For the first time in almost a decade, boxing is back in Juneau.
Tonight, promising pugilists will get a chance to wreak havoc on some unsuspecting opponent at the ``King of the Ring'' boxing competition at 6 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.
``The King of the Ring'' allows all comers - male or female - to lace up the gloves. Juneau Boxing Club director Ray Lee, who organized the event, said 16 male boxers have tentatively signed up for a total of eight bouts. Each bout consists of three, one-minute rounds. Crowd members can sign up if they get an inkling to throw a few swings, but must first pass a physical and breathalizer test. Cash prizes will be awarded, and two EMTs will be on hand to give physicals and monitor the fights.
Clint Palmer, a young boxer originally from Seattle, said he's been boxing since age 16 but only rough-housing with friends. He said his motivation to box tonight was just to see how he'd fare.
``I want to see if I got the skills, win some money, have some fun,'' Palmer said.
Lee said the total number of boxers won't be known until tonight.
``The kings of the ring are the ones who step through the door,'' Lee said. ``The only difference is some are going to win $50 and some are going to win $150.''
The 21-and-over event is a fund-raiser for USA Amateur Boxing clubs in Alaska. Patrick Fagg, a trainer with the Juneau club, said the money will be split with two clubs in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. A goal of the Alaska clubs is to send boxers to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Another goal is to defray the costs of hosting two events in the coming months. On March 18-19 clubs from Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Fairbanks; Anchorage and the Yukon Territory will meet with Juneau at the Tlingit-Haida Hall; April 21-22 is the Southeast Statewide Invitational at Centennial Hall.
A similar event in Anchorage - Thursday Night Fights - runs weekly at the Egan Convention Center. Fagg said the event is very popular.
``They run it weekly, but Juneau's not like Anchorage,'' Fagg said. ``I don't think we could do that here.''
Instead, Fagg said a monthly ``King of the Ring'' event might be more likely. The local boxing club pays to bring teams to Juneau, and a monthly event could help defray those costs.
Volunteers spent Thursday setting up the 24-foot-by-24-foot official-sized ring. Derek Lee, Ray Lee's son and an amateur boxer, worked on setting and ratcheting the iron girders in place, then laying 2x12 planks across the skeletal structure. Next volunteers laid down foam padding and covered the ring with a canvass tarp. Red, nylon-covered ropes completed the $14,000 ring.
International Boxing Federation-certified referee Butch Fondahn, a member of the State Athletic Commission under former Gov. Wally Hickel and coach with the Palmer Boxing Club, will monitor the fight. Fondahn said he received his certification in Las Vegas in 1984. Mills Lane, the ref who ejected Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield's ears, taught the course, he said.
Fondahn said he's impressed with the level of dedication shown by the local club. Fondahn passed that on to Paul Fields, a director with USA Amateur Boxing in Colorado Springs who oversees boxing in Alaska.
``I told Paul Fields that Juneau should be the host of amateur boxing in Alaska,'' Fondahn said. ``Somebody's putting a lot into this. You've never met a rich amateur boxing coach.''
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