Mixed Martial Arts School To Open In Oswego

OSWEGO, NY – The name kind of says it all: The School of Hard Knocks. Successfully completing the program can have a positive influence on the students, according to the owners.

The mixed martial arts training facility, located at 157 E. First St. – Suite 11, is currently a work in progress.

School of Hard Knocks co-owners Bill Ruggio Jr., center, and Paul Ruggio, right, pose outside the new business with one of their students, Shane Fetterley.
School of Hard Knocks co-owners Bill Ruggio Jr., center, and Paul Ruggio, right, pose outside the new business with one of their students, Shane Fetterley.

Its tentative opening date is Nov. 10, according to owner Bill Ruggio Jr.

“This is the newest up and coming sport,” Ruggio said. “It is very big in just about every state, except New York, right now. In New York, it’s getting bigger. But the problem is, you can only train, you can’t actually compete. But it is the fastest-growing sport there ever was. It’s actually bigger than boxing.”

The fierceness of the sport has some people opposed to it.

“A lot of people think that this is just something for the thugs,” Ruggio said.

However, he adds, he would welcome everyone, including ruffians, to train at the school.

“That’s the thing, we aren’t going to be teaching how to go out and take advantage of someone else. We are all about respect and control,” Ruggio explained.

“That’s one of the rules here, if anyone gets into trouble outside of the gym, they’re out of the gym,” co-owner Paul Ruggio, Bill’s uncle, pointed out. “Any fighting or anything like that, outside of the gym, that’s it, you’re done.”

“Exactly,” his nephew agreed. “If you come to this school and after everything we teach you, if you can’t just hold the guy down (if he attacks you), maybe you weren’t taught that good or something. We teach how to stay controlled, not how to be aggressive.”

“I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now with a good buddy of mine,” he added. “That’s part of why we decide to open the school.”

Shane Fetterley is one of his students.

“It changed my life,” he said. “I was angry, and now I’m less angry. I was bored and angry and then I found MMA and had a way to release my anger in a positive way. It’s a good thing. When I first came in here, I was a lot more angry.”

There will be classes for kids, 5-13 years old. Adult classes will be offered for those ages 14 and on.

A workout (floor training) program will be open to every age, Bill Ruggio added.

The school also has a personal trainer.

The kids’ division will only focus on karate and wrestling – with an eye toward forming a youth wrestling club.

The programs will meld disciplines such as karate, kickboxing, wrestling and several others.

“And, then there is the team aspect of it. We train here and we fight in Ohio,” he said.

“Me and my nephew are both licensed in Ohio,” Paul Ruggio pointed out. “It’s all training what we’re doing here, all training.”

As soon as New York legalizes the MMA competitions (possibly by the end of this year), they said they want to do demonstrations at Harborfest and other venues.

The school has a cage. Right now it will only be used to spar.

“It’s locked; nobody can get in unless me or one of the teachers is in there,” Bill Ruggio explained. “The main purpose is for training only. You can spar in there, but it has to be with me or a teacher in there.”

The facility can accommodate about 170 people.

Anyone interested in signing up for classes can contact Ruggio at 532-1529 or 575-3576.


  1. Glad to hear that there is going to be a place to help the teenagers deal with their frustrations!!

  2. Don’t hold your breath- the Governor has said he will not sign the bill plus the Democratic senate and assembly will not pass it- there is no support.

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