It's 8:45am on the morning of Saturday, February 12, 2011. A 40 year-old man named Joseph Lozito is riding the New York City Subway to work at his 40-hour a week gig in the box office of Manhattan's Avery Fisher Hall. He's nearing Penn Station on the final leg of his retardedly long commute from his home in Philadelphia – a two-hour pilgrimage he readily undertakes every day as a way to help provide food and a roof for his wife and two young sons. A ridiculous trip that makes pretty much everyone else who complains about their commute look like total pussies. A trip he's been taking five days a week since 2005.
As his Subway car pulls into the station, he notices a commotion taking place on the platform. Cops are running around frantically, people are shuffling around like spastic zombies, and even though it's obvious that things are weird nobody really seems to know what the fuck is going on. This probably isn't all that uncommon – it's New York, for god's sake, and crazy shit happens here all the time. Maybe some kid went missing. Maybe a creepy old dude exposed himself to a minor. Who fucking knows with this place.
The Subway doors hiss open, and a super-shady dude with sandy blond hair calmly strolls onto the car. Everybody kind of eyes him a little suspiciously, but then again crazy people on the New York Subway aren't exactly anything new either.
A typical morning commute in New York City.
But then shit goes straight from weird to alarming. This bizarre dude quietly surveys the car, looking across the faces of Joseph Lozito and the other men, women and children who happened to be unfortunate enough to be stuck on that Subway car at that particular point in time, his face completely devoid of emotion. Without a word he marches up to the conductor's door and starts pounding on it, demanding for the train driver to let him in. When the conductor shouts, "Who the hell are you?", through the door, this guy responds by boldly declaring, "I'm the police".
Ok, shit just got really fucking eerie. Red flags are up. Alarm bells are going off in Joseph Lozito's head. He stays calm. Just a couple more stops and he's out of here.
Then, to the surprise of everyone on board (including the police-impersonating psycho), the conductor's door slides open. Standing in the entryway are two New York City police officers, their hands on their still-holstered pistols, demanding the man back up slowly and put his hands in the air.
The creepy dude doesn't register any emotion. He takes one look at the cops, then calmly turns his back to them and starts walking towards the back of the train car – directly at Joseph Lozito. Lozito's eyes are now cautiously locked on 23 year-old Maksim Gelman, a 6-foot-tall Ukrainian dude who suddenly rocketed up the list from "creepy weirdo" to "what the fuck is up with this guy" to "holy shit he's coming right for me" on the freak-out scale.
Gelman's eyes don't blink, move, or register any kind of emotion at all. They're dead, black holes. Gelman calmly reaches into his coat, eyes still fixed on Lozito's gaze, and smoothly draws an eight-inch-long, razor-sharp kitchen knife from his waistband. Lozito then suddenly realizes the man is muttering to himself. No, worse. He's chanting. "You're going to die. You're going to die."
An eight-inch kitchen knife.
It turns out that Maksim Gelman wasn't just any nutjob riding pantless on the Subway – he was a bona-fide spree killer in the middle of a 28 hour stabbing rampage that had left four people dead and five more wounded across the boroughs of New York City. Earlier in the weekend, Gelman had done a shitload of crack and murdered his stepfather and his girlfriend's mom with a knife, stabbed his girlfriend 11 times, ran over a dude with a car, slashed another motorist, and carjacked an unsuspecting couple, stabbing both of them in the process. He was a career criminal who had completely lost his fucking shit, and now he was swinging a goddamned machete around a crowded Subway train filled with women, children, and more innocent bystanders than a superhero comic. And now he's coming straight for Joseph Lozito, and there isn't a hell of a lot this Pennsylvania native can do to avoid the confrontation. It's like a bad 80s movie about gang violence on the Subway, only this was rush hour traffic, real life, and Gelman is definitely not wearing an awesome headband or listening to rad jams blasting from the tape deck on his boombox.
But Joseph Lozito isn't just any chump on his way to work, and he sure as shit isn't about to sit there and let some psychotic madman knife him to death without putting up a fight. This guy is a life-long MMA fan who took his love of the sport to super-fan levels – he'd been to UFC 1 in 1993, never missed a pay-per-view, and celebrated his friggin' wedding anniversary by taking his wife to see the Ultimate Fighting Championship live.
He's also fucking gigantic – standing 6'2" and weighing in at 260 pounds. Gelman wasn't going to know what the fuck hit him.
"I would have done what any other person would have done, but he picked me," he said.
"I'm glad he picked me. There were a lot of women and children on the train who couldn't defend themselves.
He picked me and instinct kicked in."
As Gelman approaches, Lozito does the last thing the knife-wielding maniac expected – he attacks. Without warning, this 260-pound wrecking ball of awesome beardage leaps up from his seat, driving his chest into the spree-killer's chest Goldberg Spear style. Gelman staggers back, dazed, and Lozito busts out a fucking leg sweep that (from what I understand) probably sounds a hell of a lot more awesome in theory than it actually looked in practice. I'm picturing a goddamned duck-spinning leg swipe that would have made the evil Cobra Kai sensei cry a single tear of pride, but by Lozito's own admission, "I wouldn't win any style points for taking him down, but it did the job." I guess that's all that matters. Both men crash to the floor of the Subway, and a battle for life and death immediately ensues. Lozito is pinning the guy to the turf, desperately trying to grab control of the knife, and Gelman is slashing wildly at anything he can reach. His face and head are sliced and bleeding badly, but Lozito never even considers anything other than pummeling this guy mercilessly about the head and neck – as the two men stared each other down in their deathmatch Lozito looks his enemy in the eyes and unflinchingly tells him, "You've messed with the wrong guy. You'd better hope I die, because I'm coming to kill you."
I fucking love this. There is little in the world more badass than threatening a psychotic madman while he's in the process of trying to kill you. Never back down, never surrender.
After a short but bloody duel, police officers board the train and three cops jump in and grab Gelman. Lozito sits back and watches as they slap handcuffs on the murderer, read him his rights, and carry him off. He gets up, dusts the nasty funk of the Subway floor off his work clothes, walks back to his seat, and sits down like nothing happened.
It's only then that he realizes he's bleeding like fucking crazy.
True badasses like Joseph Lozito destroy their enemies without even taking off their ties.
Another guy on the train quickly shows up with a makeshift tourniquet and applies pressure to Lozito's cuts, but it turns out that this guy was way more messed-up than he had originally thought. When the paramedics show up and rush him to the hospital, they find that he's got a 4-inch gash along the back of his head, an 8-inch knife wound behind his ear, three 3-inch-long wounds on his arms, a huge cut under his eye that's going to leave a seriously badass-looking scar, and a tremendously-gnarly series of cuts on his hands. The doctors who stitched him back together again couldn't understand how this guy was even still conscious – let alone beating the shit out of a knife-wielding murderer in a fight for his life.
Joseph Lozito, the Subway Hero of New York, had single-handedly captured a man responsible for killing or wounding eight people in a 28-hour period, and had probably saved the lives of everyone on that subway car through his incredible determination, ridiculous bravery, and a seemingly-unflinching dedication to wrecking the asses of horrible murdering bastards. His story has been covered in newspapers and television, and the MMA-uberfan receive a special guest at the hospital when UFC owner Dana White personally came to see him and give him a set of VIP passes for the upcoming UFC 128 (an experience that Lozito awesomely-equates to being, "like a 13-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber.") He remains one of the greatest examples of a regular guy being put in an insanely-shitty situation and proving to the world that he's a face-crushing badass.
"I wasn't going to go down without a fight. I took his best shots and I am still standing."
NY Daily News