Rockaway martial artist and gym owner Chris Romulo is seeking to bring the sport to more people in southern Queens and is hosting a free expo this weekend on the Rockaway boardwalk that everyone is invited to watch.
The expo will be held at Beach 96th Street this Saturday, Sept. 14 from 3 to 7 p.m featuring fighters from all across the city, as well as students from Romulo’s gym — CROM Martial Training.
Nearly three years ago, Romulo and his wife moved to Rockaway and brought with them their love for marital arts, including muay-thai — a combat sport native to Thailand. But they noticed the peninsula lacked a facility in which to learn.
“In 2009, there was no muay-thai gym out here at the time,” Romulo said. “So my wife and I decided to open one.”
Their facility on Beach 92nd Street, was beginning to thrive when Hurricane Sandy hit and destroyed it.
“We got flooded out,” Romulo said. “We lost all our equipment and we lost our space.”
The center was shut down for months, but they reopened over the summer in a newer, larger, space at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 88th Street. Now called CROM Martial Training and Cross Fit Rockaway, the gym offers both group classes and personal training.
“Now we’re really a full gym,” Romulo said.
The idea of holding the expo came to Romulo after he noticed many of his neighbors had no idea what martial arts like muay-thai were.
“We really believe that people will get the idea of training muay-thai if we did a show,” he said.
The event is free and open to the public on a newly reconstructed part of the boardwalk. It will also serve as a chance to raise funds for a scholarship program to allow lower-income children and teens to take part in martial arts programs.