Fil-Am mixed martial artist Ro Malabanan, whose dream is to become a film action star someday, became a real-life superhero on the streets of New York.
That's after violence erupted during what was supposed to be a peaceful commute to work for him on the morning of July 27th. Malabanan was walking on Broadway near Prince Street when he witnessed two construction workers sucker punched by a stranger.
"Two guys were walking towards me; they were just minding their own business, laughing, joking. Two construction workers. A guy walked behind one of them, and without provocation, without anything, he just sucker punched him on the side of the face," Malabanan shared.
He soon found out that the attacker, who was later identified as a 28-year-old homeless man named Samuel Frazier, also assaulted other victims just minutes prior. They included a 50-year-old male and a 17-year-old male, both of whom he punched on the head unprovoked.
Ro, a black belter, said his Jiu-Jitsu training kicked in, and he instinctively went after the attacker and grabbed him in the middle of the street.
"Once I got him on the floor, I was able to pin him chest down which is great and I immediately grabbed his hand to see if he had any razors or knives or anything... When the police came, they just got there and took him away and a lot of people were just like, 'this guy punched me.' So six people he assaulted before I got to him."
When he posted his experience on Instagram and it went viral, a number of people wondered why Malabanan was on the phone while pinning the attacker to the ground.
"I was already running late so when I pinned him, I literally had to FaceTime my client and let him know, 'hey I am gonna be running late and here's why. I'm pinning this guy on the ground, because he was punching people and I'm waiting for the cops."
Malabanan said while he is being hailed as a hero, 'it was easy work.'
"Honestly, some of the white belts that I deal with in my gym, in my academies, were a lot tougher than that guy and that just explains to you that an untrained person is incapable of hurting people that have some sort of training."
He also shared advice to New Yorkers, especially his fellow Filipino Americans.
"Just be aware. If you see something, just stand up for yourself and don't be a pushover."
Frazier has been charged with one count of misdemeanor for assault, recklessly causing physical injuries, one count of second-degree harassment, one count of assault with intent to cause injury, and one count of attempted assault with intent to cause physical injury. He is expected to appear in court on August 18.