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Substitute Teacher Started 'Fight Club' to Befriend Teens, Cops Say

"The truth is I'm an idiot," the fired 23-year-old told police.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo of Fish via the Connecticut State Police; screengrab of Brad Pitt via Fox/YouTube

Substitute teachers often take a hands-off approach to sitting in on someone’s classroom. Maybe they’ll put on a vaguely educational movie, or hand out a worksheet and basically let the kids chill while they dick around on the internet. But one sub in Connecticut decided to get a little more involved, allegedly taking the liberty of cheering on teenage boys while they beat the hell out of one another, the Hartford Courant reports.


Ryan Fish, the wannabe Tyler Durden in question, was arrested on Thursday after a months-long investigation. The 23-year-old acknowledged at least witnessing the fights, telling police the first brawl in his Montville High School classroom went down in September, followed by perhaps three more, according to his arrest warrant.

After presumably briefing his kids on the first rule of fight club—you do not tell your parents about fight club—he'd allegedly let them slap-box one another while someone filmed the beatdowns. One video that the cops obtained showed two kids "swinging full force at each other’s heads with open-handed strikes," according to Fish's warrant. Police suggested the two kids going at it were at least sometimes deliberately unevenly matched, ostensibly to keep things interesting.

The fights, which were said to involve four boys between 14 and 16, apparently got pretty brutal, even if the school superintendent said no one was hurt. One came to a close after a 16-year-old kid started vomiting—at which point Fish allegedly tried to keep the melee going by yelling "round two." A student involved told the cops Fish would set up a de facto ring by "moving things out of the way," so they'd have plenty of space to throw bows, and would count off the brawls like some kind of amateur UFC ref.

"I would let them be teenagers and let them get their energy out," Fish told the cops. "I will admit that I did at one point egg them on."


Fish was fired in October after school administrators saw cellphone footage of fighting, but the school never notified the cops, which the superintendent has since acknowledged was a mistake. It wasn't until December—when the Department of Children and Families told the police about a 14-year-old kid who had been "traumatized" by the fights—that the cops began their investigation, which culminated in Fish's arrest this week. He's now facing charges of reckless endangerment, risk of injury to a minor, and breach of peace.

Fish told the cops he "wanted to be the teacher that kids could come to"—that, essentially, he wanted to be the cool sub. That move never seems to work out well.

"The truth is I'm an idiot and wanted to befriend them," he said. "I'm immature."

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