Kirkcaldy man enters medieval battle ‘World Cup’

Gino Sambucci of Scotland's Battle of Nations team in Croatia 2014
Gino Sambucci of Scotland's Battle of Nations team in Croatia 2014
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In armour weighing three stones , in a 40 degree heat, fighting the Battle of Nations is no mean feat - as Kirkcaldy man Gino Sambucci knows only too well.

The annual tournament, held in Trogir, Croatia earlier this month, represents the ‘World Cup’ of medieval battle and a five men-strong team from Scotland took part for the very first time.

Gino - a 32 year old offshore pipe fitter - said: “I got my armour the day before the flight and met the team for the first time on the plane.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life!”

People unfamiliar with the Battle of Nations tournament might be reminded of “It’s a Knockout” for nerdy enthusiasts who like to dress up in 14th century battle costume.

But a few seconds in, viewers realise they are witnessing professional ‘ancient martial arts’ fighters genuinely bash the hell out of one another.

“The weapons are blunted and regulation weight,” said Gino, “but off-camera we saw people with broken arms, collar bones and stretchers just going in and out of the tents all the time.

“In the first round I lost my helmet about 30 seconds in but just kept on going.

“Other fighters told us we were ‘crazy Scots’.”

The tournament, which is now in its fifth year, is incredibly popular in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as America.

Russia draws on over 1000 fighters to form a team of 21, many of whom are professional cage fighters.

For Gino, who has only dabbled in martial arts such as Aikido, 17 fights over two days was fairly brutal.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s spurred me on to get fit for the next challenge,” he said.

Nevertheless, what the Scots lacked in technique and experience , they made up for in grit and determination.

“Even the Australians were pulling out through heat exhaustion,” he explained. “But we lasted until we were knocked out.”

What’s more the team were treated as heroes by the Croatians.

On arrival in Spitz they were met by the Croatian Tartan Army and a pipe band paraded them through local streets.

Team captain David McNaughton, who swears the sport is ‘safer’ than rugby, wants to hear from others keen to take part in next year’s tournament - call 07525 368287.

For a taste of the event, visit: http://www.youtube.com/.tch?v=UZ14vNQxnvs