Boxing fans received a fun treat at this year’s Battle of the Badges on Saturday.
The fundraising event was held at the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center at Campbell University on Saturday. All proceeds from the event went to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League, a youth recreational sports league that is free for all participants.
The evening opened up with sparring rounds between children ages 9-12. At the end of every bout, each kid received a giant WWE-style belt. Safety was the No. 1 concern for event officials. All fighters used USA-boxing approved headgear and wore a mouthpiece. Kids were given heavier safety gloves and were matched up with someone within 5 pounds of weight and two years of age. All referees were USA-Boxing certified.
“Boxing actually has a safer track record than a lot of other contact sports,” said Deputy Mark Hornsby, who organized the event. “We take every precaution to make sure our kids don’t get hurt. If they start to look overmatched, we’re quick to stop the fight.”
Two more adult sparring events and an “exhibition knockdown” took place, and then the main event was underway. Special guest judges Christy Martin, Ray Mercer, Carlette Ewell and Lisa Holewyne were introduced. Ms. Martin is a former world champion boxer and often credited with legitimizing women’s boxing. Mr. Mercer was a gold medalist in the 1988 Olympics. Ms. Ewell won five professional boxing titles throughout her career. Ms. Holewyne is also a former world champion boxer.
The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office only had one participant, David Hildreth. Mr. Hildreth lost to John Matthew of Raleigh by a judge’s decision.
The Fayetteville Police Department had four fighters, but only Greg Johnson came out with a victory.
In total, nine fights took place. Total attendence for the event was around 500 people, and between profits from tickets and sponsors, the sheriff’s office raised over $15,000 for the PAL program.
“I’m so thankful for everyone who attended and for all our sponsors,” Deputy Hornsby said. “[Our PAL program is] going to do some good things for the county, I’m really excited for what’s to come.”