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Bar brawl 'over a girl' shames New York's most exclusive sports club

After fists fly and three members are arrested, management tries to cover up the incident
  • @guyadams

Among the character-building sports practised by wealthy members of the historic New York Athletics Club are judo, wrestling, rugby, boxing, water polo and fencing.

A combination of all six was on display when a row between the chino-wearing patrons of the club's wood-panelled Tap Room bar escalated into what a recently-published account from an astonished witness called "the best fight I've ever seen".

Three gentlemen were arrested, and two sent to hospital, after police were called earlier this month to the 144-year-old club, which overlooks Central Park and is known for its strict dress code, exclusive membership and eye-watering fees.

Fisticuffs began when two mildly-inebriated members began arguing over a girl, said a report which was posted on the "Wall Street Jackass" internet blog last week and has since gone viral. It escalated into a "non-discriminatory ragematch" which involved "young people, old people, girls, members, non-members" and ended with tables and chairs overturned, glasses smashed, blood on the floor and walls and "at least two broken noses".

Ten police officers were required to restore order at the premises, which also boast a library, squash courts, guest rooms, an aquatic centre and cabinets full of memorabilia from hundreds of past and present members who have won Olympic medals.

"It's tough to elaborate on it's [sic] epicness but I'll do my best," said the eyewitness report of the punch-up, which eventually involved about a dozen combatants. "No one could leave unless you wanted to go through the lion's pit so we all just stood ... and watched it all unfold. It came in HOT."

Among the unfortunate victims was a bartender, Luis, who apparently tried to intervene to stop two brawling women from causing each other serious injury. "BIG MISTAKE," said the witness. "Luis fell like a bag of sand after a fairly aggressive push and he started screaming 'call 911!'."

Police confirmed that three men were arrested in the early hours of 13 April. Peter Doran, 28, and Matthew O'Grady, 31, were charged with assaulting a 48-year-old man, and Colin Drowica, 30, was charged with attempted menacing.

The incident is deeply troubling to the stuffed shirts who preside over the club, which has a joining fee of $8,500 and annual membership charges of $3,000. Particularly upsetting, it seems, is the fact that details have been made public.

"I cannot state forcefully enough how abhorrent this event is to me, personally, and how contrary it is to the standards of decorum we expect from our members and their guests," wrote the president, S Colin Neill, in a letter to members which was leaked yesterday. "Appropriate action is being taken against all of those involved."

In a futile effort to prevent further details being made public, Mr Neill added: "Distribution via the various social media of photographs and letters detrimental to the club and its reputation will not be tolerated.

"It is the responsibility of each and every member to protect and embellish the standing of the NYAC."