News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2011

Amey Takes Aim: UFC fighter’s bloodines traced back to ISU brothers

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — As a mild-mannered reporter from a great metropolitan newspaper — or thereabouts — I admit I haven’t paid much attention to the burgeoning mixed martial arts scene.

I may be about to acquire a specialized interest, however.

While I don’t watch UFC events (I had to Google to make sure that stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship), I do read — much like my treatment of the National Basketball Association, actually. And in skimming a story about a UFC event in the Chicago Tribune, a name leaped out at me.

Rich Attonito.

What a perfect fit.

My ISU spies were out trying to help me determine if this is the son of the Rich Attonito that I knew — or of his twin brother Robert — and isn’t much help. It lists Rich “Raging Bull” Attonito as a 5-foot-10, 170-pound fighter with a 10-4 record who is 34 years old, is from Elizabeth, N.J., and went to Hofstra, but it doesn’t list his parents. He also has a shaved head — I believe that might be one of his weapons — so I can’t tell if he has wavy black hair like Richard and Robert.

The age is about right, however (thank goodness it’s not one of the twins’ grandsons), and the New Jersey part might work. I can’t remember if the twins were from Jersey or Pa. — that’s pronounced P A — but they could have been Jersey Shore long before the television show, and would probably frighten the current cast all the way to Delaware.

Which is why I was a little reluctant to call the twins and ask them, because I didn’t really know them all that well. They were part of the ISU football and wrestling teams when I arrived on campus, and to be honest neither was a real cuddly group.

I wasn’t covering ISU football as a freshman, so I watched those exploits from a distance.

But there was a guy I knew from Lowell on the wrestling team, so I went to one of the early meets. The match I remember involved Bob “Chico” Pychinka getting his opponent on his back just as the ISU heavyweight, Mike Kelly, sauntered to the edge of the mat holding a camera.

“Smile Chico,” Kelly said, and Pychinka stopped what he was doing, looked up smiling, then continued to pummel his opponent. This made quite an impression on me.

These guys are crazy, I thought. I like them. I’m keeping a very respectful distance.

Chico is one of the guys I can call — actually e-mail — now to find out about the Attonito family, however, and he’s confirmed that the athlete in the UFC is indeed the son of the other Rich Attonito.

Chico has a doctorate now, by the way.

I don’t remember a single example of mayhem involving any of these guys, but I credit that to the fact that the rest of the student body had the same amount of common sense that I did.

And if being rowdy and fun-loving, with a slight undercurrent of danger, is a recipe for a UFC contender, I’m thinking that Rich “Raging Bull” Attonito has impeccable bloodlines. I’ll have to check him out.

Who knows who I might spot in the crowd?


n Tweak — No, that’s not what the twins used to call me on campus — at least not as far as I know. This is a reference to other rowdy, fun-loving young men we’ve discussed here recently.

The Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association is going to institute a draft before its eighth annual all-star game next spring.

Two coaches of the year will still be chosen for the Gold and Black divisions, but then those coaches will take turns drafting the schools that will have players on their respective teams.

Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South will still be on opposite sides every year, I understand.

I like it. If they haven’t settled the lockout by that time, maybe the NFL Network will televise the draft meeting.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.