The Serra BJJ Grand Opening went off without a hitch this past Saturday, May 22, as seven months of hard work culminated in a spectacular event that filled the academy with great people and great energy.
The brand new 8,300-square-foot academy includes over 5,000 square feet of training space, a full octagon cage, an assortment of heavy bags, strength training equipment, free weights, modern locker rooms and, of course, 30-feet-long monkey bars to please the BJJ monkeys in all of us.
Kids, teens and adults filled the new gym from 10am until well past 5pm. Free classes in BJJ and Muay Thai, as well as an extraordinary seminar, were well attended, with over 400 people participating in the grand opening and visiting throughout the day. Adding to the crowd were members of numerous media outlets including HD Net Inside MMA and Newsday.
A big thanks to our impressive lineup of special guests, featuring Master Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, and John Danaher. Also in attendance were several Renzo Gracie black belts including Gene Dunn, Pete Lawson, John Rallo, Greg Amici and Karl Pravec.
And finally, one last thank you to all those whose generosity added to the event, including:
Grand Opening Promotions
Serra BJJ celebrated some very special promotions at the grand opening, with a dozen belts awarded. Included in the promotions were six new BLACK belts:
John “Del” Delguadio, aka “The Hitman,” who in addition to being a longtime Serra student has provided Nick Serra with an endless supply of ’80s music. Del is a respected instructor at both our East Meadow academy and Ray Longo’s gym in Garden City.
Johnny “Manimal” Beneduce, whose successful mixed martial arts record can now include the ultimate ranking of BJJ black belt. Manimal’s love for mixed martial arts is evident in his dedication to BJJ and extends to other styles, including Filipino stick fighting.
Josh Madama is a loyal student and former police officer who owns and operates Madama BJJ in Tom’s River, NJ and makes weekly trips to Long Island to train with the Serra crew.
Franky “Patches” Schauer has been a natural BJJ practitioner since he first started training with us. Despite a recent relocation to South Carolina, Patches continues to make monthly trips to the Serra academy to visit and train with his teammates.
Gabriel “Monsta” Toribio has been part of the Serra BJJ academy since the early days at “The Barn.” His love for BJJ is unrivaled and evidenced in his dedication to the art, and the Serra BJJ family.
And last but not least is “Persian Nick” Safar, one of the most important figures in our academy’s history. Nick has been an instrumental part in the academies’ growth, coordinating the construction of all of our schools, and is affectionately referred to by Matt Serra as the Persian Bull – at 50-plus years old, he still hangs with (and humbles) the younger generation.
Sharing in the Serra BJJ graduation list were five new brown belts:
Frank Mullis; Anthony “Guido” Ladonna; Gil “Grape Ape” Renshak; Neil “Old School” Williams; and Joe “Slapshot” Kolm. Their hard work and dedication is admired and of great worth to the students who follow in their footsteps.
Lastly is our sole promotion to purple belt, given to “Big” Tony Quagliata, who has made an incredible comeback since being sidelined by serious injury after a motorcycle accident. Having Tony back training with us is an inspiration as we continue to marvel at his recovery and progress.
Congratulations to all of our promoted students; it is an honor to have you as part of Team Serra.