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UFC's Ring plays superhero in Calgary

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Reid Forgrave

Reid Forgrave has worked for the Des Moines Register, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Seattle Times. His work has been recognized by Associated Press Sports Editors, the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and the Society for Features Journalism. Follow him on Twitter.

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Nick Ring doesn’t read comic books. He can’t name a favorite superhero. He can’t say which is his favorite “Avengers” film. He’s just your average guy from Calgary, working as a landlord, smoothing out disputes between tenants, fighting in the UFC and occasionally swooping out of mid-air to save a damsel in distress.

But when you hear this 33-year-old middleweight say something like this about his actions Wednesday night — “I was just glad to see justice get served” — you wonder: Is Nick Ring hiding something? Does Nick Ring have some sort of secret identity that he’s not revealing to the UFC public? When bad things happen in the world, is Nick Ring actually a superhero?

Here’s why we’d ask: A bit after 9 p.m. Wednesday, Ring left a yoga class at Moksha Yoga in his hometown of Calgary. It’s only about six weeks before Ring steps in the Octagon to fight Court McGee at UFC 149 in his hometown, so he needs to stay limber, and yoga helps. He went from the yoga studio across the parking lot to a Starbucks to grab a coffee. He was starting to drive back home when he noticed something awful happening.

Across the street at a bus stop, a group of teenage thugs — maybe four of them, maybe six, maybe more — were ganging up on a boy and his girlfriend. The boy, who is 17, had a bloody gash over one eye. The girl, also 17, was getting kneed in the face, and the bigger group, Ring noticed, had stolen her backpack. According to Calgary police, it had started as simply a dirty look exchanged between the two groups. Then it became an argument between the girl and a 15-year-old girl in the other group. Then it quickly escalated into a brawl.

Ring knew that he needed to do something, and he needed to do something now. No time to wait for police. And no time to find a phone booth to change into any sort of superhero costume.

“They were really pounding on these two,” Ring told FOXSports.com on Thursday. “Not on my watch.”

So Ring made eye contact with another stranger who was nearby. “Let’s go get those guys,” they said to each other.

The two sprinted across the street. The bigger group started to run. Ring and the stranger — Ring never did catch his name — tackled the slowest one and held him down. “I didn’t do it!” the boy shouted. But Ring and the stranger told him it didn’t matter; he was the slowest one of the group, so he was the one they got.

Then Ring whipped out his secret weapon: A cell phone. He called the police as he continued to give chase.

“Just a big group of them, and complete cowards, too, beating up two defenseless people,” Ring said. “We were just a couple people who didn’t like what we were seeing, and we weren’t going to stand for it.”

After Ring had chased the group about six blocks, police caught up with them. Three of the teenagers were arrested and charged with assault, and Calgary police said a fourth could be charged as the investigation continues.

“There are people like this out there who every day will do this because they feel it’s the right thing to do,” Calgary police spokesperson Kevin Brookwell. “All of a sudden, the (bad guys) have someone who is a pretty fit, strong individual who is intervening, and it becomes a little bit more than they bargained for.”

The day after his superhero turn, Ring was waxing philosophical about good fighting evil. To him, the moral equation is just that simple: Something bad was happening, and he needed to do something about it.

“When you turn a blind eye to something like this, you’re giving your consent,” Ring said. “I don’t generally get involved in other people’s business. But when it’s something like that, I couldn’t help feeling like if I didn’t step up, who was going to? They were getting downright assaulted. There wasn’t anyone around. It had to be me.

“If you have the ability to help somebody, you have the responsibility to help somebody.”

And when he said that, Nick Ring almost sounds like another superhero: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

But unlike Spiderman — or Batman or Superman for that matter — Nick Ring failed one part of Superhero 101. After the police made their arrests and Ring drove home, he did something very un-superhero-like: He revealed his identity. He posted the story of the assault on Facebook.

By midday Thursday, his post already had 450 likes.

You can follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @reidforgrave, become a fan on Facebook or email him at reidforgrave@gmail.com.

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