Fencer foils robbery with sword

Franco Scarmuzza Foils Robbery
Franco Scarmuzza says he knew he had to do something to stop a robbery.
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Tully Corcoran

Tully Corcoran spent seven years covering the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas Jayhawks for The Topeka Capital-Journal. His work has been honored multiple times by The Kansas Press Association. He most recently wrote for FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports Southwest. Follow him on Twitter.



Extreme activities can test even the hardiest athletes. Take a tour through some of the world's most dangerous sports.

Well, that's one way for a do-gooder to prevent a purse snatching.

Nashville, Tenn., resident (and fencing instructor) Franco Scaramuzza, said he was pulling into a shopping center last week when he spotted two men blasting a couple with pepper spray and trying to make off with the woman's purse.

"The first thing that went through my head is somebody should do something, and that's when I got really upset and disappointed with myself, because I realized I had the opportunity to do something," Scaramuzza told Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV. "And I didn't want to be a hypocrite who just tweeted about it."

So Scaramuzza brandished his sword, started screaming and charged like a madman holding a really long toothpick.

"I charged towards them, holding my épée (sword) up high, and, you know, yelling at them," Scaramuzza said. "I kept yelling throughout the entire thing. They completely panicked and dropped everything they stole and really took off."

Police ended up arresting two men in the incident — Michael Butt and Zachary Johnson — and charging them with robbery.

It is certainly a coincidence that this happened just as Scarmuzza was passing by, but he's probably a little more likely to find himself a hero than most others. He said he always keeps sharp awareness of his surroundings, and he thinks the fencing training helped him react.

"Fencing, you can do it without the weapon," he said. "It happens in your mind."

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