Knockout: it isn’t fun and games

Published 7:58 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Knockout; Knockout King; One-Hitter-Quitter; Pick ’Em Out and Knock ’Em Down; Knock ’Em and Drop ’Em….whatever the punks call it, it’s not funny.

And there’s even the racist “Polar-Bear Hunting” – another reference (apparently with whites as the pre-selected targets) to the Knockout game that is growing in popularity with the majority of the unprovoked attacks carried out by young African-American males.

There have been two reports of Knockouts occurring in Ahoskie, both at the same location on Memorial Drive. Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said an arrest is pending.

My question to the good Chief is, what charges will be filed? Will it be a case of aggravated assault? Why isn’t it a hate crime? After all, if this “game” isn’t about robbery (I haven’t read one case thus far where a victim was robbed after being knocked to the ground), then it has to be carried out for some other reason. If the attack is unprovoked (and in all cases I’ve read, there was no “triggering” agent used by the victims), then doesn’t that constitute hatred as to what drives the attacker?

But maybe it is just a game. If so, there is no winner.

From what I’ve read and heard, the game is simply one where a group of teens or young males in their 20’s walk up to an unsuspecting target and, bam…punch them in the head with as much force as possible. The intent is to knock the victim out cold with one punch.

I watched a YouTube video, filmed in New Jersey, where teens cold-cocked two men in public. The video prompted a TV station there to go out in the street and interview random groups of young people about what the “game” was all about….most of the responses were that it was funny.

I’m sorry….I’m not laughing.

This is serious stuff, but it’s also a sad reminder of how low society, in general, has fallen. If knocking out an innocent person, to include women, is funny to some, then we’ve slipped lower than whale droppings and they’re on the bottom of the ocean.

It’s so serious that two men are dead after being a Knockout victim this year.

According to, 51-year-old Michael Daniels of Syracuse, NY died in July from a blow to the left side of his face, which caused his head to rotate and hyper-extend to the point that an artery near his brain stem severed. A 16-year-old stands accused in the case….it’s not a game anymore.

In September, a homeless man, Ralph Erick Santiago, age 46 of Hoboken, NJ, was found with his neck wedged between iron fence posts along a street in that town. A pair of 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old have admitted to playing Knockout, leaving the victim where he was later found. All three face murder charges….gee, what fun!!

And on Nov. 9, a 78-year-old woman is walking down a Brooklyn, NY street, her arms full of shopping bags and her purse, when she was the victim of this sick game. Fortunately, that attack did not result in death, but it left this innocent woman terrified to ever step foot again on the streets of her neighborhood.

What terrifies me even more is that these unprovoked acts of violence/hatred will soon be carried out on someone who will fight back. And what if the victim is packing a legally-permitted handgun, and chooses to use it in self-defense? Will someone finally step up and condemn this “fun” game and the people who carry it out?

I believe we all know deep down what the reaction will be if a victim retaliates and either wounds or kills his or her attacker(s).

Let’s hope that doesn’t occur. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to be vigilant of their surroundings when walking alone. That’s not to say that everyone you meet, especially youngsters, are looking for trouble…just a reminder to keep your head on a swivel.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal