As our nation’s culture and economy continues to deteriorate, more and more people are taking an interest in watching people beat the shit out of each other. While, under normal circumstances, these events are highly promoted and take place in giant arenas after two opponents carefully train, there is still a place where brawls remain brutal, honorable and organized.
Set inside a large tent among hay bales and picnic tables, faceless guys in spray painted masks and camouflage suits wandered about and distributed small bottles of some sort of hangover cure — it was, after all, the crack of 1:30 p.m. The crowd, although thankful, was uninterested, remaining fixated on the numerous young women dancing on stage.Hosted by Pennsylvania rap/metal outfit Wolfpac, juggalo combat is one of the more intense experiences at the Gathering of the Juggalos, America’s weirdest, largest music festival, put on by Psychopathic Records and Insane Clown Posse each summer, and this year set in rural Thornville, Ohio.
On cue, the same anonymous figures who were passing out supplement beverages were called to stage to grab riot shields. The crowd snapped to attention and rapidly began packing up close to watch the first match of the evening: Nebraska, a broad-shouldered kid with dreadlocks who was the reigning champion, was to fight a kid from Arkansas with a short mohawk who looked like he just gotten out of basic training. After starting the match, the heavily tattooed “referee” Chucky Chuck backed away and allowed the two opponents to grapple and throw wild fists while the riot squad muscled the contenders away from the hosts and toward each other.
The match was moved to the ground and the crowd was ordered to clear away the tables and hay bales. Moments later, the melee continued until the scraggly-haired Nebraska was declared the winner, after mohawk-boy tapped out. The two hugged and thanked each other.
After some confusion, two more juggalos stepped to the center of the pit — a nimble Canadian and a shirtless slugging machine who came into the ring with a number of heavy scratches on his back. Following an announcement of the rules, consisting of “fuck each other up,” the two spent much of their four rounds on the ground as the crowd and hosts made gay jokes. “They were whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears.”
The audience also predictably yelled some shit about Canadians, which probably prompted the northerner to give up a little earlier. Despite a few impressive jump kicks the red-shirted neighbor to the north landed against the head of his opponent, he forfeited the match after a number of visually exhausting rounds. (The knees to his face probably didn’t help much either.)
The final match of the afternoon was between the winner of the first match (and juggalo boxing veteran), Nebraska, and a wiry but muscular guy wearing red shorts with close-cropped hair. By this time the thin, padded gloves the fighters had been wearing were deemed too tame and abandoned as sweat poured and oozed from each of them.
Following a brief interruption after a young boy somehow got nailed in the junk, the match ultimately ended a short time later when Nebraska delivered a devastating knee to the stomach of his opponent, who dropped hard.
With perspiration dripping from his dreaded hair and coarse beard, Dyllon “Nebraska” Leafty was hoisted to the sky by the cheering crowd. Later, after a short time talking to his supporters and shaking the hands of his competitors, we learned a few things about him.
Believe it or not, the multiple-year winner of a savage fist-fighting competition for deranged clowns isn’t some sort of terrifying and hardened convict — he’s a personable and modest 22-year-old dishwasher from Lincoln, Nebraska. He’s the kind of guy who takes advantage of an interview with a major media outlet to talk about how much he loves his job at Paddy’s Pub in Lincoln, Nebraska, then encourages you to try their reuben pizza.
Known throughout his circle of friends for his fist-swinging prowess, the Midwest juggalo described himself as a peaceful and relaxed person — at times to a fault, he says. Leafty recalled an incident earlier at the gathering that happened during Twiztid’s set, when he was forced to confront a bumbling pickpocket.
“I grabbed him and told him ‘look, I will lay your ass out,’ and let him go,” Dyllon says. “I’m too passive, man.”
Dyllon, looking shockingly unscathed (you’d believe he just went for a light jog), explained that although he knows he could probably fight professionally, he’s unwilling to for personal reasons.
“They’d want me to cut my hair. And I love my beard.”
Despite his presence at a predominantly rap-centered festival, Dyllon also mentioned his love for death metal a number of times in our brief conversation. So on a final note, if anyone in the Lincoln area is looking for a vocalist or a drummer who is capable of savagely beating up numerous people back to back, drop a line to Nebraska_Warrior@Yahoo.com.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 28, 2014