We had the good fortune of connecting with Austin Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Austin, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The reason we wanted to turn the Salt Lake City Crusaders from an amateur sports group into an official business is because of how truly wonderful all the members of our team are. People are willing to sacrifice so much time and money to help the team grow, to travel for unpaid events, to provide supplies for team members and support; we just couldn’t sit by and let that continue to happen. We wanted there to be enough money coming in that people could be a part of this sport and not have to choose between saving more money for their families and future plans or being a part of something so enriching.

What should our readers know about your business?
So our business is a very unique one. We are a group of professional medieval knights that compete in a European-based sport called Bohurt. We don authentic blacksmith-made armor and weapons and fight using a set of rules originally codified in the 1500s by King Rene of France. Our rules haven’t changed that much since then. We have two main fighting styles. 1. Duels- two men enter with the same type of weapon and try to hit each other more than their opponent and the best 2 out of 3 60 second rounds wins. Then the most exciting style, melees. Melees are a team battle with as 2 teams of 5v5 or as many as 32v32 with the goal being to make your opponent hit the ground. The team with the last men or women standing wins. The Salt Lake City Crusaders stand out for a few reasons, we are one of the oldest teams in the US. We are one of the largest teams in the US. By spring 2022 we will have the largest female Bohurt team in the US. And finally, we have a reputation for being a kind and inviting group with high levels of integrity and chivalry within the sport.

Now you may be wondering, “Wow that’s cool but how is that a ‘business'”. Well the thing that really sets the Salt Lake City Crusaders apart from other teams in the US is that we have team leadership with a vision. There are many other Bohurt teams in the US but almost all of them are amateur teams. The SLC Crusaders wanted to be more than just a group of men and women who get together and bash each other’s skulls in. We wanted to bring the excitement of this sport to the greater community, show off this incredible group of knights, and give our people a chance to travel the US and eventually the world.

To answer the question of whether it was easy or hard to build the business would be too limiting. Some aspects of the work have been easy and some hard. We decided to turn this team into a business exactly 1 month after the pandemic officially started in 2020 and that made it hard. Festivals and other large gatherings were all canceled and it made it very hard to find paid work. But it gave us time to organize, get our vision in order, and be prepared for a very successful 2021 when restrictions were partially lifted. By the time summer of 2021 was occurring we were being asked to go to so many events we didn’t have enough manpower to cover each event and had to turn some things down

We are still growing in membership and have plans to open a gym in southern Salt Lake County no later than fall of 2022

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you have someone visit Utah you have to take them to the mountains. Whether it’s winter and you can go skiing at Snow Bird or Alta or it’s summer and you hike Mt Timpanogos or Mt Olympus you will be in for a treat. If they were into history it’s always worth a trip to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City to see the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They have museums, videos, and artifacts from the pioneer treks and you can see the beautiful buildings their ancestors built after arriving in what was a desert just a few years before they got there. From there I’d show them that Salt Lake actually has a number of different cultures which is represented by the great restaurants you can find in nearly every town in both Salt Lake and Utah County. Utah is actually the #1 state in the US for the number of accepted refugees from around the world so you can get authentic food from countries such as Iraq, Ghana, Sudan, the Philippines, and many more. Finally, I’d get my teammates together to give them the best show of all, 10 armored knights going head to head wearing armor from the years 1300-1599 and using real steel weapons ranging from swords, axes, polearms, and more. We’d do some duels and team fights and then let my friend try some armor on and see how life-changing it is.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The list of people who deserve recognition for their effort and support for the SLC Crusaders is long and unquantifiable. We have dozens of kind, strong, and helpful individuals that ensure our business grows each day. Just to name a few we have the Millerds, Kendra and Phillip, who are respectively the team Operations Manager and Team Captain, and President. They ensure events and competitions are run like clockwork and provide entertainment and opportunities for growth amongst our fighters and support. Carly Sebaske is our head of finance and merchandising and without her experience and creative thinking, we wouldn’t be able to have half the financial success we otherwise would have had. Jacob Omer is the national liaison and one of the original fighters in the United States in this sport. He brings a wealth of tacit knowledge that makes us better fighters and have an easier time navigating the national landscape for armored fighting. Finally, we have John Otufangavalu, our practice and exercise coordinator. He has a heart of gold, is universally loved by everyone on the team, and when he isn’t kicking our buts in the ring he is kicking our butts in the gym and ensuring all of us are making progress. And I cannot go without saying we also have dozens of other volunteers that help practices and events happen. Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do half of what we do.

Instagram: saltlakecity_crusaders_acw

Facebook: Salt Lake City Crusaders

Youtube: Salt Lake City Crusaders

Image Credits
Salt Lake City Crusaders

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.