For Carlisle developer, boxing ring is newest professional battleground

By Amy Tennery | May 18, 2010 05:30PM

From left: Chris Kwiatowski in the ring; Kwiatowski and opponent Eddie Martinez; and, from left: Peter Auerbach, Matthew Schmeelk, Kevin Lillis and celeb chef Todd English

In the current financial climate, there is perhaps no more apt analogy for the real estate industry than the boxing ring, where brokers and developers are getting back to their feet after a good walloping.

But that analogy is reality for Chris Kwiatkowski, an owner’s representative with M.D. Carlisle Realty, a New York City-based construction and development firm that recently completed the new Eventi hotel in Chelsea.

Kwiatkowski, 38, a Muay Thai fighter and winner of the amateur world championship last year, is launching his professional career in the mixed-martial arts discipline while maintaining a full workload as a construction and development advisor.

“The challenge is what drives me,” Kwiatkowski said, noting that key personality traits like confidence and discipline have led to his success in both real estate and Muay Thai, a one-on-one combat sport similar to kickboxing.

Kwiatkowski, a one-time track runner at New York University, said that he initially got into Muay Thai as a way to pursue his athletic interests after school ended.

There have been, however, some professional upsides to his pastime as well.

“The construction guys love it,” Kwiatkowski said, noting that it “gives [him] a little more credibility” when he steps onto work sites.

But the balance between work and the fight arena can be a tricky balance to strike, Kwiatkowski said.

A fight last Friday against Eddie Martimez (in which Kwiatkowski lost) conflicted with the opening of the Eventi and Kwiatkowski ended up “heavy-duty preparing for the Eventi and preparing for the fight.”

Even more demanding is the process of “making weight,” whereby fighters deprive themselves of food and water while wearing sweatsuits to loose extra pounds to fit into a particular weight class. During the time when he’s making weight (his weight class is 147 pounds), Kwiatkowski said he has to curtail certain aspects of his workload. Before the recent match, Kwiatkowski lost upwards of 10 pounds.

Rule one during the “making weight” process is no meetings or one-on-one sessions with clients. And a half-day is often advised as well.

But the effort is worth it to Kwiatkowski.

At last Friday’s battle, Kwiatkowski fought before a crowd of hundreds including around 220 real estate folks and celebrity chef Todd English, at his second-ever professional fight, at The Armory On Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th streets.

Kevin Lillis, vice president of real estate development with Hampshire Hotels & Resorts, who was at the fight, said that the turnout of likeminded real estaters was encouraging — for Kwiatkowski’s sake and the real estate industry.

Lillis and friends Matthew Schmeelk, a vice president with National Land Tenure, and Peter Auerbach, a managing director with Property Resources Corporation, invited the pack of developers, brokers and investors to the outing. Lillis has been leading industry professionals to events like these for about six years. But since the start of the market downturn, attendance had been sparse.

“We haven’t had a turnout like this in two or three years,” Lillis said of the recent influx of real estate attendees. “It’s not like going to see basketball… it’s interactive.”