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Webster instructor moonlights as knight for hire

Media Credit: Lee Kuehner
Webster adjunct Karl Kindt III admits his passion is funny to most people. Kindt is a knight, with shining armor, swords, chain mail and all.

"People today are skeptical about it. They laugh," Kindt said. "It's kind of a funny thing to have a knight around nowadays."

Kindt, 57, has taught mostly computer classes at Webster, while also working at Lewis Rice, a law firm in St. Louis, as information services coordinator. He's been at each place for 14 years.

Kindt became a knight about eight years ago, and has visited over 300 schools and served 10,000 people as far away as Kansas, New York and Texas.

Even before Kindt became a knight, his life story was interesting. His father, as a 21-year-old machine-gunner, was killed during combat in World War II in Gadheim, Germany. Before his father died, he wrote a letter to "the new one," his unborn son. He gave the letter to a friend and enough money for the friend to buy a dozen roses if he were to die in battle. The roses and letter were to be delivered the day "the new one" was born.

Karl Kindt II died April 12, 1945. Karl III was born July 8.

"I thought of my father as a knight in shining armor who had, like the knights of old, fought a dragon of evil to defend my mother and myself and lost his life in the conflict," Kindt writes on his Web site

The letter stoked a fire inside him. He yearned to know and understand where his father fought and died, but no one in his family knew. Kindt knew where his father's unit fought, but that was a very large area.

In 1995, Kindt located a man via the Internet who knew where his father died. He then went to Germany to visit the towns his father had seen 50 years earlier.

"I stood on the very spot where my father's blood was shed that you and I may live free," Kindt said. "I will never need the photograph I took of that place to remember it for it is emblazoned on my heart."

Kindt also visited the cemetery in St. Avold, France where his father is buried. In that cemetery was a statue of King Arthur, amidst more than 10,000 American graves. It was there that Kindt first got the idea to become a knight.

Upon returning to the United States, Kindt seriously weighed the idea, praying for guidance. Kindt said many people don't understand that when America broke free from Great Britain, we retained the right to knight people. "They think the term knight means you must have been bestowed by royalty," Kindt said. "When you say you're a knight, they say, "What king has dubbed you?'"

After he made the decision, he had a suit of armor made to draw attention to his cause as a knight - a person dedicated to the cause of truth and justice. The armor cost $4,763.17 and required 212 measurements.

The measurements were necessary in duplicating Kindt's body so he'd have maximum flexibility. Kindt said most people confuse the 80-pound battle armor - what he wears - with jousting armor, which is more rigid and heavier. Kindt's battle armor is comfortable enough that he can run in it.

"You gotta watch your weight, especially around your waist," Kindt said. "It was designed when you were a certain size. It has no mercy."

It takes Kindt 15 minutes to put his armor on, which is an exact copy of 15th century armor. He wears thick leather clothing to prevent pinching and he must get up at least two-and-a-half hours early to drink plenty of fluids to clear his system out before getting into armor.

Along with the armor, Kindt also carries an Australian-made shield and medieval weapons, including a sword, throwing ax and morningstar.

While there used to be hundreds and thousands of knights in the Middle Ages, now Kindt estimates there are only about a thousand. That hasn't slowed his demand. He earned $350 for a Six Flags commercial and charges about $200-$350 for schools and $125 for birthday parties and weddings, depending on where they are. He also donates time to the Shriners and other charities.

"I always tell people I look a lot better with the visor down," Kindt said. "They usually don't disagree."

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