A determined foursome brings pool and mixed martial arts together for a benefit in Nanuet, NY
Skip Maloney
Jan. 22, 2020
Tom Romano, Kathi Romano, Frankie Hernandez, Tommy English, Evan Broxmeyer and Kerry Stellar
Tom Romano, Kathi Romano, Frankie Hernandez, Tommy English, Evan Broxmeyer and Kerry Stellar
On Saturday, January 18, a bunch of pool players got together and played pool with and against a bunch of mixed martial arts competitors at a benefit Scotch Doubles Tournament, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY. It’s unclear, but clearly unlikely that there’ll be a future event in which a bunch of mixed martial arts competitors invite a bunch of pool players to compete in a mixed martial arts arena. Based on the success of this charitable endeavor, however, the event is likely to be repeated in its current pool-playing format.
 
This might have fallen into the ‘Relative Obscurity’ bin of recorded events had it not been for the fact that there were some seriously strong and recognizable pool players who got involved. Jayson Shaw, for example, and Earl Strickland, Tony Robles, Mika Immonen, Jennifer Baretta and Monica Webb. There was also a strong contingent of other recognizable names from the New York Tri-State area, like Emily Duddy, Frankie Hernandez, Sean Morgan and Mike Salerno, to name just a few.
 
The event, affectionately dubbed as the 1st Annual Player’s Brawl, used the celebrity of its pool and mixed martial arts stars to raise money for the Lustgarden Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, seeking funds for research into those two diseases. Organized by Evan Broxmeyer (whose father passed away due to pancreatic cancer), Tom Romano (who’s been living with Crohn’s disease for 25 years) and his wife, Kathi Romano and Kerry Stellar, a mixed martial arts journalist for MMA UK and creator of “In the Girl’s Corner,” an on-line publication (www.inthegirlscorner.com), featuring, among other things, interviews about and with mixed martial arts competitors.
 
A Main Event featured a single 8-ball, scotch doubles match pitting Earl Strickland and MMA/Muay Thai competitor Kevin Ross against Mika Immonen and MMA competitor, Mickey Gall, won, as it turned out by Strickland and Ross. The event also featured a standard double elimination tournament in which 17 teams competed.
 
That 17-team event was won by the team of Frankie Hernandez and Tommy English, who defeated Jennifer Baretta and John Beneduce to get into the hot seat and then, after Baretta/Beneduce lost their semifinal match, downed the team of Monica Webb and event producer/promoter, Kerry Stellar in the finals to claim the event title.
 
The teams were fighting for championship title belts, cue cases, glass trophies, and gold medals. There were no fees and no payouts beyond $1,000 for the two winners of both the Main Event and the double elimination tournament. According to Tom Romano, 100% of the funds raised for the money generated through varied auctions, sponsors and pay-per-view for Upstate Al’s live stream went directly to the two organizations with a 50/50 split. All of the expenses incurred by the event were paid for by a combination of the promoters and sponsors.
 
Tony Robles put his own Predator Pro Am Tour on hold for a week to attend, event-direct and emcee the evening. John Leyman was the event’s official referee, while Jennifer Gorski added to the Main Event by moving around the table during the match with a rack-shaped sign indicating the number of the game. Erwin Dionisio, as usual, provided world class photography for the event.
 
The event’s promoters thanked them all, to include The Spot’s owners, Lenore Donovan-Chen and Rhys Chen, as well as Upstate Al for his live stream of the event and all of the professional pool players, MMA fighters and volunteer personnel who made the whole thing happen.
 
The promoters created a Facebook page to help promote the event, before and after. Their final story is, at present, the uppermost post on the page – http://www.facebook.com/PlayersBrawl/posts - and includes a prodigious list of ‘thank you’s to a lot more entities than those mentioned here, all of whom combined to help generate $2,509 in funds for the Lustgarden and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.