Brawls to the Wall!

New Times salutes Miami's finest fisticuffs of the past year

One month after his eighteenth birthday, the short, chunky crook was well on his way to realizing his dream. He'd made it to Miami, where guns came easy and the occasional armed robbery charge got wiped away in court like so much pudding.

The busts never got him down, either. Fuentes just kept robbing: cars, houses, people -- ten arrests in fifteen years. He refused to go quietly, beating charges left and right and resisting arrest every once in a while -- just to keep things interesting.

Ah, America.

Fuentes put considerable effort into becoming the biggest jerk ever, rising early to start work. At 8:00 a.m. this past March 1, he was trolling through Allapattah looking for an opportunity, when he spotted a black Acura LE idling in a driveway.

The car's owner, Altheysha Diaz, a 24-year-old mother of two, had just buckled in her children -- Briana, 6, and José, 2 -- and left the engine running as she dashed back to close the front door.

Fuentes made a beeline for the driver's seat. "What are you doing?" Diaz asked as he got behind the wheel. She lunged at Fuentes, begging him to take her Acura and leave the kids. Fuentes threw the car into reverse and dragged the hysterical mother along her driveway, smashing the car into a telephone pole, crumpling the driver's door.

According to police reports, Diaz rose from the driveway, badly bruised, just in time to see Fuentes speed off with her children. She took off running behind the car, following desperately for the next fifteen blocks.

Meanwhile Fuentes must have been fairly pleased with himself. He had never kidnapped anyone before, much less beaten up a mother. Yes, he'd risen up into a whole new bracket of ...

Whack!

Tiny fists and book bags came flying from the back seat. Little Briana had launched an assault. Fuentes turned around and boxed her on the ear. Big mistake. Clutching a 48-page hardcover copy of Sarah's Unicorn, Briana began laying into her captor with full force. At 17th Avenue and NW 32nd Street, Fuentes let the little girl and her brother go.

Three weeks later, someone in the neighborhood dropped an anonymous tip on him -- just like Cuba! Fuentes was seized with yet another stolen vehicle (having wrecked the Acura) and charged with kidnapping, carjacking, and aggravated and simple battery.

Briana and her family received a brand-new car from Ellen DeGeneres.

Meanwhile Fuentes's trial is under way. In all likelihood, he'll receive a long prison sentence, the net result of his marginal criminal career.

Yet another tale of an immigrant's dreams dashed at the hands of a six-year-old girl.


The Brawl to End All Brawls

It began (as these things often do) with the best of intentions: the first game of an annual City-Line Series, in which the town's two college football teams -- the University of Miami Hurricanes and Florida International University's Golden Panthers -- could compete at the 70-year-old Orange Bowl for local supremacy.

What a great idea! Toss the ol' pigskin around and show the kids that it's all about school spirit and sportsmanship and all those other things they tell you about when you're eleven.

It didn't take long for the trash-talking to take hold.

FIU was coming into the match having won only fifteen games in its five years of football. Everyone was pretty sure they would be trounced, so for them, this delightful pick-up game was to be more of a public flogging.

When FIU wide receiver Chander Williams saw a UM player intercept a pass and set down on one knee, he missile-launched himself head-first into the bastard. Who wouldn't? The fuckers were up by thirteen points.

As the third quarter was winding down, Miami halfback James Bryant taunted the FIU cheering section with an ironic bow shortly after intercepting another pass and scoring a humiliating touchdown. He was penalized fifteen yards, but FIU needed revenge.

When Miami kicked for the extra point, FIU's Chris Smith decided it was on. He seized Miami's Matt Perelli, body-slammed him, and began punching him in the helmet and neck. Smith's teammate, Marshall McDuffie, joined the fray, delivering a swift kick to Perelli's helmet as he lay on the ground, establishing that, for the next five minutes or so, kicking people, in the head, while they were down, was A-Okay.

What was truly amazing about the bench-clearing brawl that immediately ensued was its inspired savagery. This was no kick-dirt-on-the-umpire's-pants baseball fracas; neither was it a grab-each-other's-jerseys-and-yell basketball scuffle. This was Iwo Jima on ice.

UM's Anthony Reddick hurled himself into the maw, brandishing a helmet like a war club. (He received a New Times "Best of Miami" award for that stunt.) FIU's A'mod Ned hobbled onto the field on a pair of crutches, swinging them wildly at opponents. (As a result, he now has an unauthorized clothing line dedicated to him.)

( Eventually Miami-Dade Police officers were called in to quell the uprising. After a twenty-minute deliberation, officials ejected 31 players from the game. Miami won after scoring an additional 21 unanswered points, post-brawl.

No one really got hurt. And in a way, we all won that day -- for it was truly the best brawl of the year.

Check out this video of the best brawl of the year:

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