MMA Fighter - PA Trooper - Russo Hammers Out Dog Violence
Pat “The Punisher” Russo, 33, is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a former police officer in Plainfield, N.J., now a Pennsylvania state trooper and a professional mixed martial artist.
The former Military Police Officer, now a resident of Allentown, PA has been serving on the Pennsylvania state police out of the Belfast for eight years. The hours of his work schedule may vary from time to time, however they follow a pattern of 10 consecutive days on with four days off.
“If I’m not in a patrol car, I’m in the gym” Russo said.
Complicating his schedule even more is the fact that he splits his time in two different gyms in two different states. He trains mostly at Hammer Training and Fitness in Allentown, and at Alex Wilkie’s Martial Arts Academy in Bridgewater, N.J.
Russo first competed in mixed martial arts in April 2002 making him an 11-year veteran of the sport.
At Hammer he is trained by Rod Guignet, a 47-year old fighter holding two light heavyweight championship belts in both Delaware and Virginia. Guignet is currently fighting the good fight to get sanctioned as a professional fighter in his home state of Pennsylvania so he can work his way towards the trifecta, earning his third gold strap.
Russo, a muscular, 220-pounder cuts down to 205 pounds come fight time and on June 8, the ‘Punisher’ will look to improve his record with a win over Darnell Hayes (0-4) at XFE 24 at the Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem, PA.
“He physically dominates because of his size and strength,” said coach Guignet. “He is probably the best guy I have as far as strength and conditioning goes and he sets a great example for other students.”
“Our biggest goal is to go in to train for a smart, clean fight, and then follow through with the game plan come fight night,” Guignet said.
While a nagging shoulder injury has led to several stoppages in his fights resulting in a win-loss record that Russo is not thrilled about (1-7), it is what he fights for both in and out of the cage that is most impressive.
Russo, who wishes to try out as his squadron’s dog handler started a non-profit organization to help put an end to animal abuse. When he presented the idea of putting on a fight card to help raise money to bring back military service dogs from Kuwait, gym owner, Guignet was all for it.
Using part of the gym name, the organization was rightfully called “Hammer Out Animal Cruelty.” Last year they put on a fundraising event entitled 'Operation: Trigger Rescue' that raised $3200 to return a dog named Trigger from overseas to a wounded warrior that could use him stateside.
‘Hammer Out Animal Cruelty’ aims to raise awareness of the animal cruelty and the dog fighting problem that affects many suburb and city areas. Team Hammer utilizes the phrase, "When we get in the cage, we choose to fight, dogs don't."
Team Hammer's quest to aid in the animal cruelty and dog fighting war came in to play when Russo heard a story pertaining to a dog named ‘Gremlin.’ Gremlin was used as a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring. Gremlin's back legs had been broken and her vocal chords ruptured by what a veterinarian said was the end of a baseball bat. Eventually after enduring all that pain and torture Gremlin became a therapy dog to help children and elderly alike.
Hearing what this defenseless animal had endured and how she still came to prevail through it all inspired members of Team Hammer to utilize the fastest growing sport in the country which in itself resembled the intensity and ferocity of the dog fighting ring, to raise awareness of animal fighting and animal cruelty.
Russo states that he will donate his entire fight purse earnings from the upcoming June 8 XFE 24 fight to a local American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The Punisher wants to personally thank the head coaches, staff and training partners at both Hammer Training and Fitness and Wilkie’s Mixed Martial Arts.
“I couldn’t do any of this without them,” Russo said.
Also his main sponsors Sarco Firearms, one of the world’s largest wholesale and retail suppliers of firearms, firearms parts and accessories in Easton, PA, and Sick Ink Studios (Tattoos) in Whitehall, PA.
To find out more about Hammer Out Animal Cruelty visit https://www.facebook.com/HammerOutAnimalCruelty
Purchase Fight Tickets
To purchase tickets for Russo’s upcoming fight on June 8 please visit http://www.xfemma.com/
The card is headlined by UFC veteran Carmelo Marrero and J.A. Dudley with a co-main event of another local fan favorite, Scott “the Animal” Heckman and Terrell Hobbs.
Video below is Russo officiating a sparring session as Operation: Trigger Resuce. Second video is Russo at Ulimate Grappling Challenge in Hamburg, PA.