By JOHN HINTON, Winston-Salem Journal
WINSTON-SALEM, NC (AP) – Fermin Lopez, a blacksmith from Winston-Salem, won the History Channel Armed Forces Tournament and a check for $ 10,000 for his efforts.
Lopez was named the tournament champion on an episode of the network’s “Forged in Fire” television show that aired Wednesday night.
Lopez, a US Army veteran, faced off against three other blacksmiths who are also military veterans.
“I guess it’s out of the hat now,” Lopez told about 30 friends and family who gathered for a night out at JuggHeads Growlers & Pints at 4843 Country Club Road in Winston-Salem.
“Thanks for your support,” Lopez said. “It was quite a trip, but in the end I was the champion. I am richer by $ 10,000. “
The crowd then applauded Lopez for his effort.
During the TV show, Lopez smiled as he sat down next to his wife, Robin. They brought three boxes of cupcakes for their guests at the bar.
Lopez, 53, made a Civil War-era cavalry sword in the forge at his home in Winston-Salem which passed three tests from the show’s three judges.
During the History Channel show, Lopez faced off against three other contestants to show off their skills as blacksmiths.
“I’m having a great time,” Lopez said during the show.
The judges compared the competitor’s military knives and narrowed the field down to Lopez and the other competitors. After the judges tested their knives by attacking them against a small torpedo, only Lopez and another competitor were left.
“It’s good to see someone locally on TV,” said Kelly Michaels of Rural Hall, a friend of Lopez’s. “He’s doing a great job. I have one of his knives.
In a head-to-head duel on the July 28 episode of History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” Lopez was named a finalist after a duel in the Armed Forces Redeployment Tournament.
Lopez, won $ 2,000 and the opportunity to join three other duel winners in the final.
In 2019, Lopez made his first appearance as a candidate for “Forged in Fire” when top blacksmiths from every branch of the U.S. military – Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy – competed to win a prize. price of $ 50,000. Lopez was a finalist in this competition.
Most recently, “Forged in Fire” once again welcomed eight members of the armed forces – and former contestants of “Forged In Fire” – to face each other in an intense five-hour battle.
On July 21, four contestants competed in two duels in Part 1, with two winners making their way to the final tournament. On July 28, Lopez entered a Part 2 contest and won his duel.
The two winners of the first episode and the two winners of the second episode met on Wednesday evening for the third and final tournament.
On July 28 in the Sergeant Duel, Lopez was challenged to make an M1915 Bolo Bayonet, a hybrid version of the traditional bolo knife and bayonet designed at the turn of the 20th century and abandoned by WWII.
Born in Puerto Rico, Lopez attended Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia from 1985 to 1987. In August 1989, he joined the United States Army.
Fermin became a helicopter medic and rose to the rank of sergeant before being discharged from the army.
“I was injured when I was in Iraq, and I was released on medical conditions,” Lopez said.
He eventually moved to North Carolina and began working for the Kernersville VA Healthcare Center, where he is now the custodian of medical records.
Lopez has always been a huge fan of “Forged in Fire” since its first episode in 2015 and kept telling himself that one day he would appear on the TV show.
He said 16 contestants were chosen for the “Forged in Fire: Battle of the Branches Tournament” – four from each branch of the military.
For the Army competition, Lopez faced two men from North Carolina and one from Wisconsin.
In late 2018, Lopez was selected as a candidate for the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” television show for a five-part competition in which top blacksmiths from every branch of the US military – Army, Air Force , Marines and Navy – competed against each other to win a prize of $ 50,000. Lopez was a finalist in the competition.
Today, his bespoke knives sell as fast as he makes them and have been purchased by customers around the world including Australia, South Africa, Russia and Puerto Rico.
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