New York Combat Sambo is a division of American Sambo, LLC © 2003-2016 All rights reserved.
Born in 1968, Stephen is a lifelong New Yorker and martial artist. He holds black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Judo, a Master of Sport in Combat Sambo and competition experience in various combat sports. In addition to running New York Combat Sambo, which he founded in 2003, Stephen is an Association of Boxing Commissions approved MMA referee & judge, former chief official for the American Sambo Association and Class A International Referee for the International Combat Wrestling Federation. Stephen has coached his NYCS team to multiple victories in both national and international combat sports.
Since childhood Stephen has dreamed of working in the film and television industry; even having attended film-making camp during several summers of his youth. As he grew older he continued to experiment with film-making. At first with an old super-8 camera of his father's and later with modern digital technology. After high school, where Stephen focused on visual art, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City on a full scholarship for Advertising and Graphic Design. He earned is Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Therapy from Hofstra University in 1998.
While Stephen's professional life after college took him away from film and television, it was his life-long involvement in martial arts that brought him back to his original love. Recognized for his expertise, Stephen served as a technical adviser for Human Weapon (History Channel, 2008) and the season one finale of Dhani Tackles the Globe (Travel Channel, 2009), where he also appeared as himself. Stephen's inauguration as a producer came in 2011 with the acclaimed feature documentary New York Mixed Martial Arts (MMAFilm, LLC, 2011). The film's success led to distribution interest from Cinematic Right Management and can now be seen on Hulu. Stephen has been in front or or behind the camera on several other independent television, film and web-based projects in various roles including producer, actor, stunts and fight choreographer. Stephen has begun training fight choreography under Douglas Crosby and has had the pleasure of learning from J.J. Perry. Most recently Stephen was a producer of Girl Fight: A Muay Thai Story (2015).
Linked In: linkedin.com/in/stephenkoepfer
Tyga started wrestling in 10th grade at Mt. Vernon High School in Mt. Vernon, NY in 1993. His first year wrestling, he quickly realized that there was more to wrestling than what he saw on T.V. as he finished with a 14-10 record. His second year he quickly turned that around with a 29-3 record, 3 consecutive tournament championships, became divisional champion and became co-captain of the team. He accredits this to the training he received at NY Athletic Club under coach Sonny Greenhalgh (World Freestyle Champion from Iran), Hamid Kermanshah, Florian Ghinea (2x Romanian National Freestyle champion and 2x Division 3 national champion at Montclair State). In his senior year, he posted a 33-2 record, became divisional champion again and finished 2nd in the Section 1 championships.
After graduating high school, in the summer of 1996, he competed for the first time in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. He won 3 freestyle tournaments, went 7-0 on the East Coast Wrestling Tour camp where he had one of his most memorable moments defeating a high school Freestyle national champion in Florida. He also qualified for the high school Greco-Roman National championships. He went on to wrestle at Hunter College under coach Bob Guadenzi in 1996. He achieved All-State at the NY State championships in his sophomore year in college. Due to financial and family commitments, he had to stop wrestling for his last two years of college but continued to train at NY Athletic club with many great wrestlers. He wishes to pass his love for wrestling onto others. Tyga began training Combat Sambo under Stephen Koepfer in 2008. In addition, Tyga holds a purple belt in BJJ under Marcello Garcia. He is the 2008 - 2009 North American Freestyle Sambo Champion (74kg).
Assistant Submission Wrestling Coach
Anthony “Magnum” Pipola
Anthony, Ozone Park’s Secret Weapon, is a talented grappler and fighter with many competitive accolades under his belt. He began training at NYCS in February of 2011. In addition to his 3-0 record as an amateur MMA fighter, Anthony has won the Good Fight Winter Open Gold Medal (No-gi purple belt), North American Freestyle Sambo Championships Bronze Medal (A division), ISWA Carpentier Catch Wrestling Open Gold Medal.
Alexius “Stealth” Phoenix
Alexius, who works as a senior court officer at the NYS Federal Court, has been training at NY Combat Sambo since 2007. In addition, he holds a Shodan in Judo and Japanese JuJitsu. Alexius’ competitive record is a long and accomplished one including a Bronze Medal (Judo) at the 2011 World Police & Fireman’s Games. He has placed in numerous other events including the Good Fight, World MMA Expo Takedown Tournament, Ultimate Sambo Submission Showdown, North American Freestyle Sambo Championships, and Canadian Freestyle Sambo Open.
Assistant Submission Wrestling Coach
Thomas “Sambo Ronin” Doyle
Tommy has been training with NY Combat Sambo since September of 2012. In addition, Tommy holds a Purple Belt in BJJ (Oct, 2014) and is a Level 1 coach under the International Submission Wrestling Alliance. In the past several years Tommy has proven himself as an avid competitor racking up Gold Medals at the 2013 Good Fight Winter Open (No-Gi Adv) and the 2014 ADCC New York (Blue Belt Division/Gi), Big Apple BJJ Open (Blue Belt Division), Good Fight NJ Submission Only (No-gi purple - fastest submission award) and Good Fight NY Submission Only (no-gi Blue & Absolute). On November 21st Tommy made his MMA debut on the Victory VII card at Madison Square Garden. He defeated Mike Kelly via 1st round rear naked choke in what was the first ever MMA bout contested in the historic venue. Since that time Tommy has increased his record to 2-0.
Assistant Combat Sambo Coach
Paul Varacchi is a certified Krav Maga Instructor, the only American certified by Professor Itay Gil of Protect Israeli Security Systems and the Director-in-Charge of Intelligence, Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Studies at Hebrew University. In addition to representing Protect Security in New York, Paul is the owner and head instructor of Flow Krav Maga, Assistant Combat Sambo Instructor at NY Combat Sambo and a Certified Freestyle Sambo Official. Paul is also a graduate of Douglas Crosby’s Fighting for Film workshop and has a life-long love of movies and stunts.
Born in NYC in 1978, Paul has called many places home before returning back to this city that he loves. After studying International Hotel and Restaurant Management at Johnson & Wales Paul moved out West, which became the birthplace of Paul’s 20 year long career as a chef. After returning to NYC, Paul worked in many esteemed restaurants, including the Spotted Pig.
It was through a coworker at the Spotted Pig that Paul met Riley Bobycomb, World-Class Grappler who would become Paul’s sambo and mixed martial arts coach for six years. It was through Riley that Paul got to know Stephen Keopfer (Reily’s teacher). Coincidentally it was the very show Stephen worked on, Human Weapon, which introduced Paul to Itay Gil. After years of intense training, Paul received his Krav Maga Instructor Certification from Itay Gil. This did not come without its challenges, including a ruptured Achilles tendon. Not one easily deterred, Paul continued the brutal course of study. He left Israel with an Associate Instructor ‘s certificate and a date with a surgeon. Paul received his full certification after another year of training, including his final exam in Jerusalem. While in Israel, Paul also completed a week long training course with Haim Gidon, Grand Master of the IKMA (Israeli Krav Maga Association).
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