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Windy City Rollers Fri May 03 2013

Behind the Costumes: WCR Mascots Speak Out

Fonzo McKnuckles. Manic Man. Bull Diablo. Shinobi Bloody.

Their names may not be familiar, but if you've been to a Windy City Rollers home season bout, you've surely seen them. They can often be spotted high-fiving little kids and posing for pictures with fans. If not doing either of those, they're likely starting a dance party somewhere.

SCS_2056-20130301-_9.jpgThey are the mascots of the Windy City Rollers home teams. Fonzo McKnuckles is a giant white gorilla who, according to his Facebook page, was hatched from an egg on Feb. 13, 2011 and now wears an orange cape for The Fury, who are 3-0 going into tomorrow's Ivy King Cup playoffs. Manic Man, in a blue and green body suit, represents the Manic Attackers, while Bull Diablo wears red and black for the Hell's Belles and Shinobi Bloody wears a black ninja outfit for the Double Crossers.

Michael Sawyer is in his third season playing Fonzo. He said his first introduction to the team was through a friend who used to skate for The Fury.

"I immediately became a Fury fan," Sawyer said. "I was a superfan, I guess."

Three years ago, he said, the Windy City Rollers talked about creating mascots for the home teams. When it came time to decide who would jump into the mascot role for The Fury, the skaters made a quick decision.

"A bunch of them said, 'Sawyer'll do it,'" he said.

Sawyer said he had no objections and with that, Fonzo was born.

IMG_5814-20110409-_11.jpgThe rookie of the mascot crew is Mickaella Castaneda, who plays the Double Crossers' ninja, Shinobi Bloody (a name she made up). She said she sort of stumbled into the role when she suggested to a friend on the Double Crossers that she'd be good for the ninja role.

"Just as a joke, I texted her, 'You know who'd be a good mascot? Me,'" Castaneda said. "I've never been a mascot before."

Castaneda, Sawyer and Trisha Kaufman (who plays Bull Diablo) all say that they tend to seek attention. Castaneda describes herself as the "ham of the party," while Sawyer calls himself an "attention hog." Kaufman didn't say it so bluntly, but she did say she was comfortable making a complete fool of herself in public.

"It takes lack of humility," Kaufman said.

Fonzo is the only mascot who is actually a fully-developed character.

"I was adopted by The Fury and they raised me and taught me to be furious," Sawyer said. "I have a son named Plantain."

But little Plantain is not the only other member of the McKnuckles clan. Sawyer said that every year, at the bout closest to Mothers Day, Momzo McKnuckles makes an appearance. Though Momzo is usually played by whoever Sawyer finds to don the Momzo suit, tomorrow, he said, it will be someone special.

"It'll actually be my mother," he said with a laugh. "I'll make her do it."

The mascots said they usually don't plan interactions with each other.

"We pretty much just play off each other," Castaneda said. "We don't really set anything up."

IMG_1194-20120128-_8.jpgKaufman, Castaneda and Sawyer all said they are a part of their respective teams - a fact which, this season at least, is hard for Kaufman. Kaufman used to skate for the Hell's Belles under the name Pominatrix. But an accident during a speed skating competition ended her derby career.

"Being Bull Diablo has been really hard this season," Kaufman said. "Every time I'm there, I want to put on my skates."

Sawyer said that he loves being a part of The Fury and seeing how the team works together every day.

"It's fun to be with them and see the energy they put into it," he said. "It's a rush. It's a high."

Sawyer was the only one of the mascots willing to talk any smack. His Fury are 3-0 heading into their bout against the 0-3 Double Crossers. The winner will advance to the Ivy King Cup finals next month. Sawyer said he was so confident about The Fury's chances to win the Cup that he made the team a very serious promise involving brass knuckles, which are the symbol of The Fury.

"We're going flawless," he said. "I promised the girls if they gave me a flawless season, I'd get brass knuckles tattooed on my body. And I want that damn tattoo."

See the mascots in action

  • What: First round of the Windy City Rollers Ivy King Cup playoffs.

  • When: Saturday, May 4. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the first bout is at 6 p.m.

  • Where: UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine.

  • How much: General admission tickets are $20, while VIP seats are $35.

Photos by Steve Stearns

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