Rough house boxing returns

Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Boxing is back in Juneau once again.

Following the success of the `King of the Ring' -- an open-format roughhouse boxing competition where anyone can lace up the gloves and swing a punch for prize money -- comes the Southeast Showdown, which will use a similar format. The Southeast Showdown is at 7:30 p.m. both Thursday and Friday at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

Winners from each of three weight classes earn $1,000 and black leather championship belts adorned with golden boxing pins. The belts were fashioned after the one former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta wore, said Bob Haag, the event's co-promoter who brought King of the Ring to Juneau.

Each weight class (165-pounds and under, 165-190, 195 and up) includes up to eight fighters bracketed according to ability, said Haag.

``We try and situate the best fighters on opposite sides of the bracket.'' Haag said. He expects about 12 bouts Thursday night, and the winners advance to fight Friday night.

No experience is necessary to box. Each bout consists of three, 1-minute rounds, and fighters use oversized 18-ounce gloves. Emergency medical technicians sit at ringside.

Most of the proceeds go to the Juneau-Douglas Boxing Association, a local amateur club that survives largely through donations, Haag said.

``That was the sole intent of King of the Ring,'' Haag said. ``My real goal is to build a strong amateur program. The profit from roughhouse boxing goes to help the Juneau-Douglas Boxing Association.''

Haag, the former owner of the Pines Club in Anchorage from 1991 to 1993, held roughhouse boxing competitions there. He co-promoted the first roughhouse boxing competition at the Egan Center in Anchorage, and also works as a professional auctioneer.

``Roughhouse boxing in Anchorage is real successful,'' Haag said. ``They took it out of the bars and took it to another level.''

He's also promoted roughhouse boxing competitions in Sitka - where his parents live - at a club his mother used to own.

``It was crazy,'' Haag said. ``It had 250 seats and it sold out the first Friday and Saturday of each month.''

Haag is looking to do the same thing in Juneau. He wants to bring roughhouse boxing to Juneau the first Thursday and Friday of each month from October until April. If the response is there he'll aim for a bigger venue, like Centennial Hall.

``I'm really curious about the crowd,'' Haag said. ``If we sell out both nights we might just have to look into finding a place with 900 to 1,000 seats. But if we don't get the response we expect we'll cut it back to one night per month.

If the response is anything like last month's sell-out show at the ANB Hall, Haag has little to worry about.

``I can't wait,'' Haag beamed. ``There's going to be some great fights.''

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