Article by Stephen Koepfer. Additional material contributed by Chuck Hardin.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Geraci: Claim by Claim
- 2.1 BJJ Black Belt?
- 2.2 Testing for Sambo “Black Belt”?
- 2.3 Boxer, Kickboxer, and Mixed Martial Artist. Geraci’s Pro and Amateur Records?
- 2.4 Military History: Special Ops?
- 2.5 Combat Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriquez at Camp Lejeune?
- 2.6 Training under Rob Guarino, Chris DiTroia, and Eric Hibler?
- 2.7 Claims of Criminal Activity
- 3 An Apology
- 4 Geraci: After the Dust Settled
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 Further Reading
Khristian Geraci ran a Pittsburgh Mixed Martial Arts club called “Iron City MMA” in which he was head coach. At the time of the start of the investigation his bio on his now defunct website stated as follows:
Name: Khristian "The SANDMAN" Geraci
Weight Class: 145
Record: Pro 19-6-0-1
Profile: Khristian is the head instructor at Iron City and holds a Black Belt in BJJ. He is also a professional boxer and Muay Thai Kickboxer. He is the current Extreme Cagefighting Lt.Weight Champion and has created a fight team that is like none this sport has ever seen!!!
From day one, Geraci’s bio had serious holes. Nobody could confirm his BJJ black belt. Geraci’s own website boasted a pro record of 19-6-0-1. This was in serious conflict with Sherdog’s official record for Geraci of 1-9-0-1. Full Contact Fighter had his record listed as 2-9-0. Now, we all know it is common for some minor inconsistencies to appear in varied reports on fighter records. However, Geraci’s claim of 19 wins and 6 losses was in complete contrast to Sherdog/FCF’s claim of 1 or 2 wins and 9 losses. Furthermore, there was no distinction between his boxing, kickboxing, and MMA records.
Aside from his fight record, as the investigation rolled on the following claims were discovered and investigated:
- That Geraci was awarded a black belt in BJJ.
- That Geraci was awarded a black belt in “Combat Jiu Jitsu” by Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriguez while in the Marines at Camp Lejeune.
- That Geraci was authorized to promote people by the “American Black Belt Association”.
- That Geraci was a two-time golden gloves boxing champ and all armed services boxing champ.
- That Geraci was in the Marines Recon or Navy Seals as either Recon or a sniper and was discharged due to being wounded.
- That Geraci was training with Jeremy Drenning in sambo and was going to test for a “Black Belt” rank in sambo.
- That Geraci had trained under the following coaches: Rob Guarino of Rhino Fight Team, Chris DiTroia of Real Combat Martial Arts, and Eric Hibler of Pittsburgh Fight Club.
- That Geraci has a 17-1 pro boxing record with 17 KO’s as stated during his appearance on the “Tapout” television show.
- Allegations of criminal activity by Geraci.
Geraci: Claim by Claim
BJJ Black Belt?
This was the claim that started it all. On March 5th, 2008, Jimmy Cerra (aka frodo and hobbit), a BJJ purple belt (under Bobby Palumbi at Team Balance) at the time of this investigation, posted an inquiry on the NHBgear forum and Sherdog about Geraci’s claim to be a BJJ black belt. In fact, Jimmy had one year prior, as a blue belt, grappled Geraci to a 17-0 victory at a local tournament and was convinced that Geraci could not be black belt level. Furthermore, it could not be established who had awarded Geraci his apparent BJJ black belt. Here is the video of the 2006 match between Geraci and Cerra.
According to Geraci’s now defunct website, at the time of this investigation, he claimed to be a Black Belt in BJJ and had this picture posted:
However, only 14 days after the investigation began, the BJJ black belt claim vanished from his site. Furthermore, Geraci explained that the photo was a misunderstanding and that he had no knowledge of what his web designer was posting about him on his own website.
I also see how the picture and the gi looks to you all, but that was not my intention. I just happen to like the gameness gi's. I'm not familiar with all of the BJJ traditions so I did not realize I would be offending or misleading anyone with the gi. I apologize for leaving the wrong impression. As for the website, yes I've seen it, but no I never payed much attention to it. I didn't even know there were fighter profiles up until I was informed about this thread…I've explained everything that has anything to do with the school and I've made sure that the web-host has removed any references to BJJ.
The notion that a school owner had no knowledge of what was posted about himself on his own website did not seem believable to posters on Bullshido. Being skeptical, these posters searched and found several other claims to Geraci’s BJJ prowess. Several posters logged on to the various forums to claim they had met Geraci and that he told them personally that he was a BJJ black belt.
Furthermore, this podcast interview with Geraci was discovered where he openly claims BJJ training. He also claims his father was a former US Navy Seal and started training him in combatives since the age of 4 (more on the military story later).
On March 5th, Cerra’s coach, Bobby Palumbi wrote the following e-mail to Geraci:
My name is Bobby Palumbi, and I am a Balance Studios brown belt under Reason Gracie/Phil Migliarese. There has been much talk in the BJJ community as of late that your BJJ black belt was never awarded to you, and that you basically promoted yourself. As someone who is working towards his Black belt, it is very frustrating to hear these stories, and I would take a great deal of offense towards it if it were true.
I am not writing you to criticize your rank. Instead, I am giving you an opportunity to prove yourself and silence the banter about your belt status. Team Balance Pittsburgh is having an in-house tournament on Sunday, April 6th. It will be a small tournament. We are having a blue belt absolute division, and I would like to invite you, free of charge, to compete in this division.
If you would rather compete in one match gi superfight, that can be arranged. I would be honored to step on the mat and test my skills against an accomplished BJJ black belt. However, I know that you weigh around 160. I walk around at 205, but I could cut to 190.
I understand that this could be a problem because I am still heavier. I have a purple belt named Jimmy Cerra who could make 160 without a problem, and he would be glad to compete against you. Also, I have two new blue belt, both around 160 and under a year's worth of training. They would love the opportunity to step on the mat with a BJJ blackbelt and test their skills.
Again, this is a way to squash the rumors and prove your validity as a BJJ black belt in the community. I hope to hear from you soon,
Team Balance Pittsburgh
I have no problem proving my worth and I appreciate your respectful approach to the situation. I do have a problem with the proposed date though... if you want to set something up privately between you and I for after May 17th I would be honored to roll with you. Thank you!
This match-up never did take place. However, Cerra did visit Geraci’s club (Geraci was not there unfortunately) and reported it as follows. Apparently Geraci’s students were under the impression that Geraci did in fact have a BJJ black belt. Additionally, Cerra found the training to be sub-par based on his own BJJ experience:
I went to their school tonight; because, I won't be in town next week. I felt honor-bound to go there asap. They run their MMA gym in the bottom of a tanning salon. I participated in their practice and tapped our their "purple belt" instructor a few times. Khristian wasn't in town so he ran class instead.
The warm-ups were ok, but the instruction was kinda lazy. Most people didn't even participate for the technique phase of the practice and just hung out talking on the edge of the mat. Now I understand these are basics, but I still drill the most simple technique even if I know it. Then during rolling, they only had one group at a time (2 minute rounds) because mat space was limited. One guy went to sleep (I didn't do it). I rolled with the instructor a few times and dominated him positionally the first two rounds. During the third round I turned up the heat and tapped him out twice. He seemed to know what to do, and he has a good attitude. He could be a blue belt in skill level if he drilled more and was more explosive, but he's not a purple belt in ability right now. He complained to me that only Khristian could tap him out at the place. Most of them seemed athletic, but they need more technique.
At the end of practice, I told them that Khristian was in lots of trouble with the BJJ community for faking his black belt. They said they could show me his black belt, but I told them he could have bought it and that the belt wasn't important. I asked about his lineage, and they gave me the same story about some Rodriguez guy. I told them that's not possible, and they said Khristian said he was authorized to promote through the "American black belt association." I told them that organization can't authorize Khristian for promoting people in BJJ. Either the CBJJ or Khristian's own BJJ instructor can legitimatize it. But since nobody can verify Khristian's lineage, that their ranks would be shunned. Some seemed loyal to their gym, some seemed to be angry at Khristian, and some didn't seem to care much one way or the other. Nobody gave me a hard time. I was just honest and not angry saying it.
I don't think their blue belts have the skills of a blue belt. I don't think their purple is really a purple either. I don't think Khristian has been honest with them, giving them photocopied certificates for their "BJJ ranks." If Khristian does not attend our in-house tournament in April, something should be done before he screws everyone up.
Sorry, no photos or videos. I went alone and just brought by camera phone, but forgot to get a photo.
Cerra’s post enticed Geraci to log on and comment on Bullshido himself:
I never claimed a BB in BJJ… I have been on vacation and no one took the time to discuss the situation with me directly. All this B.S. you have been posting about me could have been avoided if someone would have spoken to me directly first.
I said that I studied Jiu Jitsu while in the Marine Corps, it was something that was offered on our base and was totally voluntary to do in our free time. And no I do not have a purple heart. I was on deployment, but I was hurt breaking someone's fall in a non-combative situation.
It was interesting that in this post Geraci claims that he did not have a BJJ black belt and that someone should have contacted him directly. But, he did have BJJ black belt listed on his website and was contacted directly by Bobby Palumbi about questions in the BJJ community in regards to his black belt. In Geraci’s reply to Palumbi he never addressed the BJJ black belt question at all.
In this similar post by Geraci on the NHBgear forum, he again denies his BJJ black belt, blames his web designer, asserts his Marine Corp Jiu Jitsu training, and states he has never claimed to have trained BJJ:
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 10:06:06 -0700
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
I don't know who you are, but apparently you everyone seems to think that I am out running around telling everyone I'm a BJJ BB under Medeiros or something. I have never made the claim as such. I spent 6 of the years that I was in the Marine Corps studying Jiu Jitsu, they have their own ranking system which I know is not the same or even comparable to traditional BJJ which is why my school is an "MMA" school and not a BJJ school. All this has been taking place while I have been away on vacation and have not had the opportunity to defend myself and set the facts straight. As for what was posted on our website, that was a screw up by the web designer who assumed that when he heard Jiu Jitsu it meant BJJ. That problem was corrected by my assistant instructor. No one can produce one flier, poster, commercial or any tangible piece of evidence that I have been marketing myself as a BJJ BB, because I haven't. I have marketed the MMA Black Belt Program here at the school and that we are an "MMA" school... that's it. As for the name Rodriguez, that would be Gunnery Sergeant Rodriguez who was my instructor in the Marine Corps. I have not once tried to disrespect anyone but you all seem to think so. Is any of this not clear? Can I enjoy the rest of my vacation now?
These were the first denials of a holding a BJJ black belt by Geraci and the first mention of studying a different Jiu Jitsu style while in the Marines…which led to a new direction in this investigation. Geraci later claimed a misunderstanding between his Combat Jiu Jitsu and black belt and what he originally promoted as his BJJ black belt. Furthermore, in this post he claims to have trained Combat Jiu Jitsu for 6 years in the Marines, but in a PM to me Geraci made a contradictory comment, downplaying his experience:
The combat jiu jitsu training was a payed for class run by GYSGT. Jorge Rodriguez…Until I got out [of the Marines] I wasn't as serious about martial arts as you guys are…
But, more on Geraci’s military training later.
After investigations on Bullshido, NHBgear, mma.tv, and Sherdog, Geraci publicly admitted to not holding a Black Belt Rank in BJJ, but continued to lay blame on his web designer for placing incorrect information on the site without his knowledge. Geraci never admitted to lying about the BJJ rank himself. This type of excuse would also come into play again when he was confronted with biographical questions related to his 2 time golden gloves championships and military career posted on the now defunct FTP Systems website (Feel the Pain - his former gym). Geraci claimed:
…Whatever they put up I can't speak for. I was spec ops in the USMC and I did compete in golden gloves, but did not win it.
This is contradicted by an old FTP press release announcing Geraci’s involvement in their program.
There was apparently some very bad blood between FTP and Geraci upon their going separate ways. However, little was expanded upon this in the investigations.
Testing for Sambo “Black Belt”?
On March 18, I was contacted by a poster on the NHBgear forum who informed me that Geraci claimed he was going to be testing for a black belt in sambo under Jeremy Drenning. In the same exchange Geraci also mentions receiving a jiu jitsu black belt “from the Corp”.
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2008 09:44:05 -0700
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
You are correct in this info. And yes I do have a blackbelt in traditional Jiu Jitsu from the Corps. I served from July 1995 until I was hurt in combat in 2004. I will also be testing for a BB in Sambo under Jeremy Drennings here in the next 2 months…
Also note for later that in this e-mail Geraci notes that he was wounded in combat, which led to his discharge from the Marines.
I was asked if I could confirm the sambo claim or if I knew Drenning personally. I had never met Drenning, but I knew of him. He’s part of Lance Campbell’s USA Storm group and promoted his students under the old rarely used American Sambo Academy ranking system. This old, but still sometimes used system is considered outdated, but legit. It is generally used as an in-house type of ranking system these days. I offered to contact Drenning and ask about Geraci.
I did speak at length with Drenning and on March 19th, I posted the result of my inquiry with him. Geraci was not testing for a sambo black belt as he had claimed in the NHBgear forum. In our e-mail conversations (which Jeremy requested I do not share publicly), Drenning confirmed that Geraci had trained with him on occasion for less than a year, that his stand up was good and his ground game was improving. He also thought Geraci was a BJJ black belt and a former Navy Seal. But, Geraci was not testing for any sort of rank at that point. Drenning also added that Geraci was always a nice and respectful man and that he was surprised to find out about all these allegations. Drenning was a good sport and took a friendly “forgive and forget” approach with Geraci…providing he came clean. Drenning has since moved out of PA and no longer trains Geraci.
Boxer, Kickboxer, and Mixed Martial Artist. Geraci’s Pro and Amateur Records?
On Geraci’s now defunct website, he claimed a 19-6-0-1 Professional MMA record. During his appearance on “Tapout” a claim was made that Geraci held a 17-1 record as a professional boxer, with 17 KO’s to his credit.
These claims are in stark contrast with available public records. Sherdog Fight Finder has Geraci listed with a record of 1-9-0-1. Full Contact Fighter’s database lists Geraci as 2-9-0. At the time, Boxrec boxing records listed Geraci as 1-2-1 as a pro. As of 8/8/08 Geraci now has a listed pro boxing record of 3-3-1.
Furthermore, on the now defunct FTP Systems webpage about Geraci, claims were made that he was a 2 time golden gloves champ. Geraci later addressed this as well, admitting that he did not win any golden gloves championships, but claimed that he was not responsible for what FTP put on their site, and laying the blame on bad blood between him and FTP after his leaving that club. He also mentions his time serving in special ops:
The people from FTP are people that I distanced myself from because of the B.S. they were doing. Which is why I opened my own school and they are going to jail. Whatever they put up I can't speak for. I was spec ops in the USMC and I did compete in golden gloves, but did not win it.
However, Geraci’s own AOL bio claims a Golden Gloves championship, an all armed forces boxing championship, along with further conflicting professional records:
Name: Khristian Geraci
Contact: [email protected]
Nickname: The Sandman
Team: Pittsburgh Fight Club
Date Of Birth: 7/27/77
Weight: 155 lbs.
Titles: Golden Glove State Champ, All Armed Forces Champion
Promotions Worked: Rise Fighting Champ., World Extreme, Sportfighting, Combat in a Cage, Reality Fighting
Amateur Record: 14-1-0
Professional Record: 3-4-0-1NC
A February, 2007 press release on www.mma-zone.com announced Geraci’s signing with Sin City boxing:
Khristian “The Sandman” Geraci Signs With Sin City Boxing Management Las Vegas, Nevada(February 1, 2007) — “Slick” Nick Sampson & Macke Roberts of Sin City Boxing Management proudly announce the signing of lightweight MMA fighter & welterweight pro boxer Khristian “The Sandman” Geraci to an exclusive management contract. Sampson & Roberts say with his seek and destroy aggressive fight style, Geraci is pure excitement in the boxing ring and the MMA Cage. The native of Pittsburgh, PA, has not been discouraged by some of his previous losses. “Geraci says he’s giving his future opponents some solid advice. Don’t let my record fool you. I have a lot of talent and ability inside the ring or the cage and my opponents have two options when they fight me either tap out or pass out.
Geraci says he is excited about being associated with Sin City Boxing Management and the opportunities that will present themselves now that he has a team who will put a strong focus on his career.
Nick Sampson and Macke Roberts of Sin City Boxing Management see a lot of talent & a bright future for Khristian “The Sandman” Geraci. “The Sandman” is refocused with a good team in his corner and he is going to surprise alot of people in the MMA and pro boxing industry.
Military History: Special Ops?
Several times in the past, and during this investigation, Geraci made claims to have been in Marine Special Ops. Others note from private and recorded personal communications that he claimed to be a Navy Seal, having served in Marine recon, and having been a sniper scout. Many active and former military posters on several forums disputed these claims and could not find any evidence to confirm any claims Geraci had made over the years. Such claims were made in many forums, personal communications, and websites.
It has been confirmed that Geraci did indeed serve in the military (the Navy) as per www.military.com, but under what circumstance remains foggy at best.
Name : KHRISTIAN L GERACI
Service : Navy
Service Component : REGULAR
Pay Grade : E-1
Military Speciality : SR 0000
Home of Record : Unknown
State of Residence : PA
In this podcast with Geraci he makes claims to have joined the Marines after high school, gone into special ops/recon, and attended “seal crt” training, and was assigned to seal team 3 in California. None of this has been verified.
On March 21st, Geraci PM’d me with the following information, requesting it be kept private.
The combat jiu jitsu training was a payed for class run by GYSGT. Jorge Rodriguez (I think thats how he spelled his first name)... I never looked into his background, he was a Marine and that was enough for me. [in regards to Geraci’s Marine duty he attended] 0321, S.E.R.E. training in Brunswick, Maine, Jump School(Airborne) at Ft. Benning, GA, Basic Recon at EWT Atlantic then stationed at Lejeune other than deployments…as for my injury, another marine fell, I stepped under him to break his fall and had severe head trauma from hitting the ground
His claim here to have been wounded by breaking the fall of a fellow marine contradicts his prior e-mails and reports in which he claimed to be wounded in combat, had saved someone’s life, and that this information was top secret. In this Bullshido post, he claimed to be wounded in a non-combat situation:
I said that I studied Jiu Jitsu while in the Marine Corps, it was something that was offered on our base and was totally voluntary to do in our free time. And no I do not have a purple heart. I was on deployment but I was hurt breaking someone's fall in a non-combative situation.
Interesting that he never mentioned the Navy Seals to me in his PM. When asked for his DD214 (discharge papers), Geraci declined to provide it. I explained to Geraci that I would keep the information to myself until such time investigations proved truth of the statements or otherwise. As it turns out, similar information was also PM’d to another forum member (the raccoon), but the added credential of being a sniper scout trained at Quantico.
A later e-mail from Chris DiTroia, who Geraci had claimed to train under, stated the following regarding Geraci’s military claims:
I was just reading up on your posts and I will tell you that he told me he was a Sniper in the Navy Seals and he was put into a coma saving someones life in a building re-con mission. I do not know anything about the military, but it was obvious his story had holes in it. Plus he told me all of this on our first meeting, but then told me it was Top Secret and I can never mention it to anyone. Weird to tell such a big secret within the first time meeting someone. I of course knew he was lying then and YES you can post this.
Most recently (July 4, 2007), I received an email stating the following (the sender requested to remain anonymous). This e-mail speaks to Geraci’s military history:
From: [name withheld]
To: [email protected]
Subject: Khristian Geraci
Date: Friday, July 04, 2008 9:28:41 PM
I recently read some of your posts on Bullshido about a strange guy named Khristian Geraci. I read even more disturbing posts by him claiming this that and the other. I have no knowledge of his mma training/lack there of, but I do remember him being a prisoner at the Camp Lejeune Base Brig for several years. I was an active duty Marine from 1996-2000 as a 5831 Corrections Specialist at Lejeune. I served on a security platoon as well as Special Quarters NCOIC. Khristian Geraci was a prisoner there and I believe that he came to the brig from an MOS School and was never in the Fleet Marine Corps. I remember him because he was sent to special quarter several times because of his behavior and suicide watch. Maybe Geraci has turned his life around but from several posts that I read it doesn't sound like it. I just thought I'd let you know about this. I was watching tv one day and a re-run of tapout came on and I told my wife that I knew the one guy, a few clicks on the internet and sure enough. I provided a post on Bullshido about Mr. Geraci's claim to military spec ops service, I wish I could remember more about this guy, I can't remember which branch of service he was in because the brig was joint services brig for all branches, I believe it was Navy or Marine corps, we had few army and airforce prisoners at Lejeune.
The final blow to Geraci's military claims came when the Marine Corps sent Geraci's full public records (PDF, 1.8 MB). Most of the 65-page document is redacted pending a review by JAG to determine what further legal details can be released, but we can draw some conclusions from what the USMC provided:
- Geraci entered the USMC on June 2, 1997, and left on January 28, 2005. His rank at discharge was E-1. This is the lowest possible rank, and indicates a serious problem with his service.
- Geraci's only listed training is a four-week Rifleman course, and his only decorations were the Rifle Marksman Badge, indicating that he passed the rifle course, and the National Defense Service Medal , meaning that he was on active duty during the post-9/11 period.
- His chronological record indicates that he went through Marine Basic from May 17 September 28, 1997, which is 19 weeks -- an oddly long period, since 13 weeks is standard. He was transferred to Camp Lejeune and assigned a MCC of JA4, which is the School of Infantry. He had requested such an MOS upon enlistment.
- By October 7, 1997, Geraci had a legal problem; he was assigned legal counsel that day, and the next day his primary duty was changed to something redacted. It's not hard to guess what, given that the next entry is NAMALA -- i.e., he was undergoing a mandatory appeal process. His previous reassignment was therefore almost certainly as a prisoner.
- He stayed well past any ordinary term of enlistment, probably to serve out his sentence. He was discharged from NAMALA, and this discharge would have been punitive.
This record explodes any claims of Special Operations service of any kind, or even of an honorable military record.
Combat Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriquez at Camp Lejeune?
Several times throughout this investigation and on several forums, Geraci claimed to have studied and been awarded a black belt in Combat Jiu Jitsu while in the Marines at Camp Lejeune. He claimed to have trained under a Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriguez for a period of six years. Geraci claimed to have been in the Marines from 1995-2004 when he was discharged due to his being wounded (under what circumstances we may never know). While we know that the circumstances of Geraci’s military time has been misrepresented by Geraci himself, military.com lists his as being in the Navy.
If there were a Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriguez teaching Combat Jiu Jitsu at Lejeune, it should have been fairly easy to find him. But, it was not. Numerous active and retired Marine Corp posters on several forums, who had been or are still stationed at Lejeune had no idea of who this guy was. Most of these guys are involved in martial arts and would surely have known.
I decided to contact my friend Cardo Urso. If anyone would know who Rodriguez was, Cardo would. Cardo currently owns and operates Miletich Fighting Systems, Atlantic City (http://acmfs.com), but was an active duty Marine for 24 years and continued on as an combatives trainer for the USMC. Here is Cardo’s bio:
Instruction at MFS of Atlantic City is handled by Cardo Urso and his son Dominic Urso. This father son team has decades of fighting experience between them. Cardo is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 24 years of service. From 1997 to 1999 he was the Chief trainer of instructors for the Marine Corps Close Combat Program, and then from 1999 until 2002 he went on to become the Chief trainer of instructors for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). These impressive credentials are only the beginning. He has over 35 years of martial arts training, and currently holds Black Belts in Okinawa Karate, White Crane, Judo, Jujitsu and Sambo, and is also a level 3 instructor in the Miletich Fighting Systems. He has also coached and competed at many levels including high school, college, and the Marine Corps allowing him to have a full understanding of competitive fighting both in and out of the ring.
I contacted Cardo to see what he could tell me. Cardo explained to me that he was at Camp Lejeune from 1992 - 1997 (overlapping with some of Geraci's time there). He had never heard of Gunnery Sergeant Rodriguez or anyone teaching Combat Jiu Jitsu, and he was pretty sure he knew everyone doing any martial arts there...since he was training with them. He knew who was doing jujitsu, sambo, judo, and TKD there. Cardo's words: "This guy would have to be pretty underground for me not to know who he is”. He suggested that Geraci simply scan and post his DD214 to clarify his time in the military. Geraci declined. Nor did he produce any kind of document or rank certificate.
Nobody has ever been able confirm the existence of a Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriguez teaching Combat Jiu Jitsu during the years Geraci claimed to be at Lejeune…or at any time.
Interestingly, in this podcast interview with Geraci, the only mention of any martial arts training he did in the military is a reference to “MMA”, not Combat Jiu Jitsu. He also mentions training BJJ. Nor does he mention the all armed forces boxing championship he notes in his AOL bio posted above.
Training under Rob Guarino, Chris DiTroia, and Eric Hibler?
After admitting publicly that he had no formal BJJ training, Geraci was asked who he had studied grappling under, since he apparently had some training and had previously competed. His response was as follows:
I've trained at several different schools to learn submission wrestling, the combat jiu jitsu program that I the black belt is for was where I first learned and it was a paid for class run by Gunnery Sergeant Rodriguez when I was in Jacksonville some include Chris Ditroia from Real Combat near wilkes-barre,pa, eric hibler, rob guarino from team rhino and several others plus studying and practicing on my own, I tried to learn from as many as possible…
Unfortunately for Geraci, I had contact with all the folks he mentioned training under (with the exception of Gunnery Sergeant Rodriguez). I wrote to them to confirm Geraci’s claims. These were their responses:
- From Chris DiTroia of Real Combat Martial Arts:
- E-mail 1:
Kristian trained with me about 5 times. He did fight under my school name, but it was a favor for Brian, the promoter of Reality fighting. Khristian told me a bunch of stuff about his past, and I can tell you that it was not true, just by training with him. Also, I do not have the credentials to give someone a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because I myself am not a black belt in Jiu Jitsu.
He fought under me one other time, but it was a total disaster. Quite frankly I really just cornered him for the other fight since I was going to be there with Stephan anyway, but he trained with Eric for that fight, he did not come to me at all. After that, I told him he was not welcome any more. He has NO RANKING UNDER ME.
He knows nothing from my gym. He was just starting with Eric when we were parting ways. He definitely trained with him but not for any more than a year MAX. I would guess less than that but that is just speculation. I caught him in many lies, he is a pathological liar I do not think he can help it.
Any other questions just let me know.
- E-mail 2:
I appreciate you asking me before posting it. Yes, you can post it as I understand what you guys are trying to do. I would hate for someone to get into a cage thinking they can fight because they learned some stuff from him. The only thing is that I do want it known that even though he lies alot, he is a nice kid who does not mean to hurt anybody, I really believe that he believes his lies and needs help.
Post this as well as I do not want people to hate him.
- E-mail 1:
- From Eric Hibler of Pittsburg Fight Club:
Khristian Geraci trained with me sporadically, on and off, for about 6 months. He had no work ethic and professed great skill and was continually challenged by my beginners. This kid is a serious Con Artist and as soon as we were aware of it, we set a trap, he took the bait, and I threw him out. I regularly throw out any undesirables to keep my Club free of bad element.
On the other hand, Khristian continues to Con and Lie his way all over the Sport of MMA from every end. My name and Company name are dragged through the mud alongside many others constantly I'm sure. Some of these people have even contacted me about what Khristian has stolen or knives out of them too. I would be happy if Khristian would just be caught and made to stand trial or be punished somehow. I think people need to be beware of people like him and stay away from any business dealing with him.
Khristian never earned or learned anything from me unless he thought he was getting over on me...
Eric R. Hibler
Pittsburgh Fight Club
Regarding Training with Rob Guarino and Rhino fight team, Rob called me personally to state that Geraci was in no way affiliated with Rhino and that he (Rob) had cornered Geraci on a few occasions at fights; nothing more than that. Furthermore, Steve Katz of Rhino posted the following on the Underground:
+Rhino Fight Team, Manager
Date: 03/17/08 12:04 PM
Member Since: 01/22/2007
60 Total Posts
Kristian didn't finish His training camps in Rhino NJ, never made it to NY, but was cornered by some of our Team. A lot of Fighters come for training or corner/cutman.
Khristian replied on Bullshido stating that Katz’ reply indicated that he did train with Rhino, though he never completed the training (whatever that means). This contradicts Rob Guarino’s comments to me that Khristian never trained with Rhino.
Claims of Criminal Activity
Khristian Lee Geraci, 28, no address listed, waived his preliminary hearing Feb. 1 before Opiela on a charge of theft by unlawful taking. Ross police arrested Geraci, a security officer at Inn Towne Suites on McKnight Road, saying he confessed to stealing a laptop computer and carrying case from a guest's room Nov. 13
In this March 22nd, 2008 BS post, Samuel Browning asks:
We have a copy of a criminal record for one Khristian Lee Geraci…who evidently pled out to lesser charges on 11-21-2006 while having other cases against him dropped. Do you deny you are the same person? If you are not the same person what is your full name and DOB?
On the NHBgear forum Geraci denied that he was involved in this crime:
Re: Khristian Geraci is not a BJJ black belt
« Reply #249 on: March 19, 2008, 05:32:51 PM »
I do not handle anything with the marketing/advertising for the school including the website. I'm no good with computers and I have other things I have to attend to. If I would have known what was written on the website I would have had it changed immediately. As for these laptop claims, I've never worked at a hotel so I don't know where this is coming from nor do I care. I was at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC for most of my career. As far as I'm concerned, I've never been disrespectful to any of you and if I had known about everything or if someone would have contacted me first I would have set the record straight right then and there. I was never given that opportunity.
Furthermore, regarding his claim that it could not be him because he was in the Marines at the time, Geraci states himself that he was discharged from the Marines in 2004: two years before this 2006 theft.
On March 23, 2008, under pressure from the various inquiries and investigations, Geraci announced that he would close his school:
I am tired of seeing everyone drag my family and friends thru this because of your problems with me, so you all win, I'm closing the school at the end of the week and I will no longer fight or train MMA. You got what you all wanted now please leave me alone!
While some on the boards were happy with this conclusion, many (including myself) were not and suggested that Geraci simply hire a qualified coach, continue training, running his school from an administrative aspect. Geraci clearly loves to fight, has stepped up several times, and should not stop training to fight. What most posters desired was honesty from Geraci; something which at that point he was unwilling to offer…with the exception of admitting that he was never awarded a black belt in BJJ and that he did not win any golden gloves championships. He still claimed the BJJ black belt debacle was a misunderstanding and not a misrepresentation on his part.
Two days later, Geraci posted this on Bullshido (and on the NHBgear forum):
Hello everyone concerned
Please consider this my formal apology to all those offended and hurt by some of the fabrications that have been told. I admit, I have made up some fabricated comments regarding my martial arts background. It was only to try to gain and market my school more quickly, however it was a huge mistake.
I would like to show my sincere apology by making my best effort to discontinue these behaviors. I made some mistakes and I apologize for those mistakes and hope that at some point and time I can be forgiven.
Please consider this letter as a promise to all to be sincere in the future and discontinue the behavior I previously displayed. I would like to consider this an end to these matters, and hope that others would help me put this behind and please stop trying to punish me for my wrong doings.
This post was Geraci’s first admission of “fabrications” about his martial arts career (not his military career), but he failed to note what fabrications he was apologizing for. However, at that point, after layers and layers of lies, most people (myself included) disregarded his apology and asked him to itemize what “fabrications” he was apologizing for. On both Bullshido and the NHBgear forum Geraci was asked to clarify and offer proof of: his actual military service, his various fight records, who he has actually trained with and when, whether or not he knew about what was being posted on his websites, and to admit he lied about his BJJ black belt (that it was not his web designer's fault). No new admissions were offered by Geraci.
Throughout these investigation threads there were, as often happens on the net, aspects that degenerated into mud-slinging. As typical there were occasional off-topic posts that had nothing to do with the investigation at hand. One of the resulting exchanges involved a poster on Sherdog (CrazyMcGrappler) who logged on to defend Geraci. I would not mention it as it really has nothing to do with the facts of the investigation into Geraci’s claims.
However, Khristian chimed in and responded to my comments about his behavior and requests for an itemized list of his fabrications. Geraci’s comments towards me were posted on Sherdog on March 26th, but my reply was on Bullshido as the Sherdog thread was locked before I could respond. Here is a pertinent excerpt of what he said:
What you don't get is I've admitted my mistakes that were originally questioned which was a BJJ BB and as I have said numerous times is not true. As for my military background And personal history I choose not to share publicly due to the assholes who have no real interests in clearing the air and are just looking to have a good time bashing someone…Now, I've made my apology whether you want to accept it or not is up to you…
The full exchange can be read here.
Geraci: After the Dust Settled
Since this investigation Geraci has continued to fight and stay active in the fight scene. On March 29th, 2009 Khristian Geraci cornered Tim Furay at the New Breed Fighters show at the House of Blues. Eric Simmons defeated Furay by submission (arm bar) at 2:31 of Round 1.
On July 6th, 2008 Geraci logged onto Bullshido to confirm that his school had been closed for a few months. He also stated that he had had 4 pro boxing fights since the end of the investigation, all of which he claimed to have won. This does not add up, at least not according to www.boxrec.com. At the time of the initial investigation Boxrec boxing records listed Geraci as 1-2-1 as a pro. As of 8/8/08 Geraci now has a listed record of 3-3-1. That gives him 2 (not 4) new wins and 1 new loss since the initial investigation. Nevertheless, props for stepping in the ring at least 3 more times with a wins against Eric Burke and Shawn Detamore.
Geraci also announced two of his impending bouts: June 20th vs. Ivan Popoca at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, IL televised on Telefutura and July 2nd vs. Tommy Joseph at Pullman Park in Butler, PA which would be a swing bout on ESPN Wednesday Night Fights on ESPN2. According to Boxrec, Khristian fought Joseph once before and lost in November of 2007. It seems this rematch never happened, at least not at the time of this article. Ivan Popoca defeated Khristian Geraci by TKO at 1:40 the first round of their scheduled-for-six match-up.
Geraci went on to state that he is trying to make better decisions in regards to his career and that he cleared up all misunderstandings about ranks with his former students. In response to his posts, Geraci received many posts prompting him to continue his fight career and training.
To Geraci’s credit, he had joined the various discussions himself and somewhat owned up to his misdeeds (though many questions remained and he never spoke directly to many of the claims against him). He clearly attempted to begin turning over a new leaf. Geraci, as it turned out, was a guy who dug himself a hole of mammoth proportions and had some serious trouble getting out of it. Some might argue that he is still in it. But, in my opinion, Geraci seems to be genuinely attempting to change his image, put his right foot forward, and put this unfortunate period of time behind him. Despite his many lies and misrepresentations, Geraci does love fighting, and has done so on an amateur and professional level many times as a boxer, kickboxer, and mixed martial artist. He deserves props for that…as anyone who steps into the ring or cage does.
Nevertheless, we out started asking many questions. Here is the final outcome:
- Was Geraci awarded a black belt in BJJ?
- Was Geraci awarded a black belt in “Combat Jiu Jitsu” by Gunnery Sergeant Jorge Rodriguez while in the Marines at Camp Lejeune?
No evidence was discovered to support this claim or the existence of Rodriguez.
- Was Geraci authorized to promote people by the “American Black Belt Association”?
Geraci never spoke to this and no evidence supporting this claim was discovered. Geraci did, at one point create his own “MMA Black Belt” System when with FTP Systems. However, this is presumably now defunct.
- Was Geraci a two-time golden gloves boxing champ and armed services boxing champ?
Geraci admitted to not having won any Golden Gloves Championships. No evidence was found which supported his claim to an all armed forces boxing championship.
- Was Geraci was in the Marines Special Ops or Navy Seals as recon or a sniper? Was he discharged due to being wounded in combat?
Geraci refused to post his DD214 and never cleared up the many conflicting reports he had given over the years. At different times he stated he was in Marines Recon, the Navy Seals, was a sniper, had been wounded in combat saving someone’s life, never recieved a purple heart, and that he was wounded in a non-combat operation. Geraci's public military records falsify all of these claims; he was arrested not long out of boot camp in the Marines, and remained a prisoner until his discharge.
- Was Geraci training with Jeremy Drenning in sambo and testing for a “Black Belt” rank?
Geraci did train with Drenning for less than a year on an occasional basis. He never was going to test for a sambo rank. He no longer trains with Drenning.
- Had Geraci trained under the following coaches: Rob Guarino of Rhino Fight Team, Chris DiTroia of Real Combat Martial Arts, and Eric Hibler of Pittsburg Fight Club?
Geraci did have occasion to interact with these coaches on a minimal basis as a fighter, but the claim to having trained under them was contradicted by the coaches themselves.
- Was Geraci’s record as a mixed martial artist 19-6-0-1?
No. Sherdog and FCF state Geraci’s record to be 1-9-0-1 and 2-9-0 respectively. No record was ever established which came close to Geraci’s claim.
- Did Geraci has a 17-1 pro boxing record with 17 KO’s as stated during his appearance on the “Tapout” television show?
No. His current pro boxing record stands at 3-3-1 according to Boxrec.
- Was Geraci ever convicted of criminal activity?
While Geraci denied this, court records exist with names, birthdates, and geographic locations match those of Geraci’s. Geraci’s claim that he was in the Marines at the time of the theft in question (of a laptop computer) does not hold water as Geraci himself claimed he was discharged from the Marines 2 years prior to the theft in question. Furthermore, his military record indicates significant criminal activity during his service in the Marines.