MOUNT PLEASANT — So what happens when two rival public safety officers strap on the gloves, step into a ring and square off against each other? Fundraising.
That’s the idea, anyhow, when the bell sounds on a first-time Guns and Hoses Tough Man event Thursday at the Omar Shrine Temple at Patriots Point. It’s expected to feature at least five three-round matches between local police and firefighters.
For the competitors and a legion of public safety personnel expected to attend, the event is primarily another chance to help Lt. Will Rogers and his family. Rogers, a Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy, was shot outside a gas station in May and is struggling to recover.
“He said he was thankful for all the guys fighting and he hopes no one gets hurt,” said Jamie Wyatt, his daughter.
Rogers has good days and bad, she said, but is doing well and appreciates the prayers.
The competition is the latest of a number of efforts for Rogers put together by local officers. The Lowcountry Firefighters Association and Shriners Hospitals for Children will also benefit.
The $35 ticket event is put on by Bobby Mitchell Productions out of Jacksonville, Fla. It’s one of those charity competitions that raises money for local causes after costs have been covered and the promoter paid. Steve Tartaglia, handling the event here, did not immediately say what it costs to put one on.
In Jacksonville, the Guns and Hoses competitions now pull in thousands of spectators per match and have been augmented by races, hockey and even poker matches.
Lowcountry departments are leery enough about it that one captain denied approval for an officer to talk about his participation.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office decided not to have employees participate, spokesman Maj. Eric Watson said. “When we were approached by organizers for this event, we believed and continue to believe that this event is being organized in good faith and the spirit behind it is for a good cause.”
The competition is among a number of similar efforts that are held across the country. The Association of Boxing Commissions doesn’t take an official position on them.
“These events are generally amateur and must be sanctioned by a nationally recognized amateur sanctioning body. If done in this fashion, they are legal,” said Tim Lueckenhoff, president of the commissions. “One of the largest ones in the country is held in St. Louis the night before Thanksgiving. It has been a huge fundraiser to help families of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.”
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