NAME: Dark Guardian
PATROL AREA: New York, New York
YEARS ACTIVE: 8
INSPIRATION: Captain America, Superman
MOTTO: Actively seek good to do in your life.
BEFORE THE HERO: When I was younger, I definitely didn't always do the right thing. I made a lot of mistakes. I hit at a point in my life where I wanted to change everything around, be a better person and do more. I didn't grow up with any real male role models in my life. I read comic books and looked up to those characters.
ORIGIN: I'd think, “Why hasn't anybody ever gone out and done something like this?” To go out and fight crime, or go out and be a symbol of helping people. Everything just evolved from there. The name Dark Guardian is because I'm traditionally out at night and I feel like it's my duty to protect my community.
COSTUME: If I'm doing something dangerous, I'll always wear my bulletproof and stab-proof vest. I also have red and black motorcycle gear that's meant for you to be thrown off a bike and be okay—it's leather. And underneath, there's padding. I think red is just a strong color.
WEAPONS: Trained in mixed martial arts, kick-boxing
FIRST TIME ON PATROL: I started going out in a t-shirt and jeans just patrolling through areas and checking stuff out. And I'd just come across stuff: a person sleeping in the street, a mess in the neighborhood, or sometimes actual crime.
MEMORABLE DAY ON THE JOB: We went to the St. Mary's Children's Hospital around Christmas time and we brought a lot of gifts and got to spend the afternoon sitting around and talking to them. These are very sick kids—they can't get out of bed—and it was rewarding to put a smile on their faces, spread that hero cheer.
REAL LIFE IDENTITY: I'm a martial arts instructor and I teach full-time. For a long time, not many people knew what I was doing—I had the whole secret thing going on. But after a while, I hit a point where I was in the news and everybody eventually found out.
I first went out thinking I was going to fight crime. But you don't just run across a purse-snatcher. Only once you're on the streets, you notice people in need, areas that need help. There's a lot of homeless out there and it's getting worse with the economy. Myself and other people hand out food, water, all types of necessities. During the winter, we give blankets, hats and gloves. Or even something as simple as taking a trash bag and cleaning up an area. I'm on a team called the New York Initiative and they're very, very active guys. I worked for a while on this park in Washington Square. There was a crew of drug dealers there and I was out there watching it happen, reporting it to the police. Then I started to step in and start kicking people out. It got dangerous a couple times, but in the end that whole crew of people are out of there. It's still a notorious place for drug dealers, but not as bad as it used to be. I've been threatened, had a gun flashed at me, but I stand my ground. I make sure we have a camera just in case anything happens. We handle ourselves.