Man left bloodied after defending woman from racist tirade at San Antonio gym

A San Antonio man was left bloodied Friday after defending a young woman of color from a white man hurling racist abuse at a North Side gym.

Matthew Egan, 36, arrived at the Life Time Fitness near the intersection of U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 with his girlfriend shortly after 8:30 p.m. On his way to the pool, he encountered a shirtless man shouting at a woman outside the sauna.

The man called the woman, who’s in her early 20s, obscene names and told her, “You don’t even belong in this country.”

Egan, the owner of a local search engine optimization company, stepped in between and tried to defuse the situation with a joke. When that failed, he told the man to leave the woman alone.

The shirtless man turned his attention to Egan, threatening to kill him and repeatedly headbutting him.

Gym employees called police but the man left before officers arrived. Egan, who’s now nursing an injured nose and teeth, was lauded for standing up for the woman after sharing the story on social media.

“I look at it as just — I have a big mouth,” Egan said, laughing. “I stepped in because I didn’t like what I saw. People are like, ‘You’re a hero.’ I don’t know. I’m more disappointed that I was the only one that stepped in.”

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said nothing like this had happened before in the more than a decade she has lived in the U.S. She became emotional describing the incident but identified one positive outcome.

“Even from a very negative situation, I came out with a good friend,” she said of Egan. “It’s sad. It’s very sad. You would think in the 21st century none of this would happen yet it’s still happening.”

The argument that would lead to a police report for the alleged assault began with the woman waiting her turn outside the sauna. A sign warned guests that only four people were allowed inside due to social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When someone left the sauna and she stepped inside, a man — whom police described as a white male in his 40s — barged in behind her. She pointed out the sign and the other person waiting their turn outside.

Then, she says, the man “just goes off,” shouting expletives and calling her sexist names.

The woman left to tell an employee what had happened, then returned to the sauna area, where the man continued his tirade outside the door. At that point, Egan arrived. The police report notes that the man allegedly told Egan he “was going to put him in a ‘box’ and place him in the ‘ground.'”

The woman said Egan’s intervention meant a lot because he had not even heard the entirety of the man’s rant.

“There were people already there from the beginning who were hearing all of it who didn’t say anything,” she said. “It made me really happy and it made me feel really great to know that people like him are still there to help.”

Life Time Fitness noted on Twitter that “upon review of this incident, swift membership actions were taken.” The company said it was conducting an internal review of the matter and cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.

The woman said that while she understands that everyone has bad days, projecting it onto other people is not the answer.

“No matter what anyone is going through or no matter what anyone is feeling, always make everyone feel welcomed,” she said. “Always make everyone feel like they belong. No matter what.”

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