‘A Brotherhood’ – How New Immigrant Denis Puric Found A Sense Of Belonging And Safety With His Breakdancing Crew

Denis Puric Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat ONE Fight Night 17 18

Denis “The Bosnian Menace” Puric didn’t know anybody when he moved to Canada from war-torn Bosnia, but he eventually found a group of friends who would become his family for life.

The 39-year-old flyweight Muay Thai star – who will face Jacob Smith at ONE Fight Night 21 on Prime Video in U.S. primetime on April 5 – found his tribe with a local breakdancing crew, but it offered him a lot more than just entertainment.

As a young man in a new city with nobody else to rely on, “The Bosnian Menace” needed the new group to fulfill a variety of roles in his life

He reflected on that period of his youth before battling Smith at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand:

“In high school, I moved to a city named Hamilton, just outside of Toronto. During that time, the city was dangerous, filled with street gangs. Growing up, I never had brothers or sisters watching over me. I’m a lone soldier. But to survive, you had to be rolling with a couple of guys because the streets were dangerous.  

“I met a couple of guys in high school, they were Southeast Asian guys. A lot of them were from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. I started hanging out with these guys, then I see them start doing their breakdancing thing. 

“It was those times when guys were carrying cardboards around, and they’d stop at a bus stop and bust a flare. So we created a breakdancing crew called ‘The Red Dragons.’ We had a lot of guys, man. We would go to places in the streets, and there would be breakdancing shows where we would compete with other crews. That was big in Hamilton.” 

Still finding his way in a new hometown, Puric could have been drawn to any of the cliques that high school offered, but something about “The Red Dragons” pulled him in. 

There was nothing selfish about the group. Instead, it was a collective that worked together – both in good times and bad.  

The Team CSK representative recalled: 

“I was drawn to them because I felt the way they handled themselves was like a family. I saw a bunch of brothers. The way they hung out, it was always together. When they ate, they ate one meal together, whether it was one guy or 23 guys, everybody shared. That’s what drew me to them. 

“It was the way that they moved, and especially during those times, I wanted to be a part of that because it looked safe, it felt safe, and when one went down, everybody went down. So that’s how it was, survival of the fittest, and we survived because we had each other. We held it down like that.” 

What ‘The Red Dragons’ Meant To Denis Puric 

Most young people look for camaraderie in one form or another, whether from sports, music, video games, or any other type of subculture.  

For their part, “The Red Dragons” had a certain look that distinguished them from everybody else – though it sometimes attracted the wrong kind of attention. 

But while the locals might have thought they were unruly youths, Puric says that wasn’t the case, at least most of the time: 

“We were kids, man. They looked at us because we were wearing colors and going around as a group of guys who all looked thugged out with saggy pants. There were a lot of us, man. So imagine 50 to 70 guys walking around town wearing colors, people looked at you different. But we never went around causing trouble.  

“But there was a lot of trouble because it’s the streets, man. So basically, the reason why we got together was more to protect each other, and it became like a brotherhood.” 

Most teen collectives start to dissipate as the crew members get older, and while that was also true for “The Red Dragons,” it wasn’t the end of their friendships. 

Puric is still close with many of his old breakdancing buddies. At the same time, he’ll always miss their heyday when they were young and carefree.  

He added:

“Just being with the guys was the best thing about it. Going around from one part of town to the next part of town, breakdancing, battling, hanging out, being wild sometimes. Being kids!  

“That’s what I miss during those days because we were together all the time. And the bond together as a group is probably the one thing I miss the most. But it was a good time. Some of the best times.” 

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