WKU fraternities throw blows for cancer research

Sumner Franklin (on left), from UK, takes a punch to the face from Miguel Brarzey, from WKU, at the Sigma Chi Fraternity Fight Night in the Sloan Conventions Center on Feb. 10, 2017. Franklin ended up winning the match.

Andrew Critchelow

Get Ready to Rumble

The Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green transformed into a fully-operational venue for boxing matches on Thursday and Friday, complete with a boxing ring, a referee, ring girls, an announcer and a timekeeper. These things came together for Fight Night, an annual event hosted by the Zeta Mu chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

The event brings together local fighters and boxers from fraternities around the state and from organizations such as the Bowling Green Boxing Club. There were 12 fights on Thursday and six fights on Friday; some fighters involved in the event chose to fight both nights. All ticket sales for the event went towards the Huntsman Cancer Institute in the University of Utah.

Attendants of the Friday matches prepared for the fights by drinking beer and by dancing to songs played by the event DJ such as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and Migos’s “Fight Night.” A painting hung on the wall of the Convention Center, depicting President Trump with the caption “Make Fight Night Great Again.”

Many of the fighters prepared before the matches by listening to music, talking over the matches with their cornermen and by jogging in place. Junior Luke Skaggs said training and preparation for Fight Night is essential.

“For the past month, month and a half, I’ve been trying to change up my work outs, get them a little more cardio-based,” Skaggs said. “I’ve been doing a lot of running up stairs and stuff like that, sprints, trying to get used to the 60-second rounds.”

This year was Skaggs’s first year participating in Fight Night. A graduate of North Oldham High School in Goshen, Kentucky, Skaggs said his interest in Fight Night started early on.

“Since I was in high school, I heard about Fight Night, and I was like ‘that’s pretty cool, it sounds like something you got to have a little courage to do it,’” Skaggs said. “I just figured why not get in there, and it’s for a great cause.”

Skaggs fought during both the Thursday and Friday events. Referring to himself as an “adrenaline junkie,” Skaggs said boxing gives him a thrill he hasn’t experienced doing anything else.

“It was the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had,” Skaggs said. “Our whole fraternity was here, and I’ve got a lot of friends on campus, and everybody was pretty hyped up.”

The first fight on Friday started around 8:15 p.m. and many audience members voiced their support for their preferred fighters by yelling and beating on the side of the boxing ring.

“Bowling Green, are you ready to rumble?” the announcer said over the speakers before the first fight.

Skaggs said the audience participation in the event was a big factor in the fights.

“You have a game plan but when that starts happening you come out way hotter than you would normally,” Skaggs said. “You start swinging for the fences pretty early when people are yelling and stuff.”

The Friday event also included a guest appearance by head football coach Mike Sanford, who spoke in the ring between fights. Sanford expressed his support for the Huntsman Cancer Institute during his appearance, referring to it as a “great cause.”

The Huntsman Cancer Institute is one of the national philanthropic organizations donated to by most Sigma Chi chapters in the nation. The organization is focused on cancer research and treatment. Skaggs said the Huntsman Center Institute was a big factor for him in deciding to take part in Fight Night.

“That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing it, no doubt about it,” Skaggs said. “It’s such a great cause and they’re raising so much money for it. You’ve got to have people to fight for people to come, so I figured I’d go in and be a part of that.”

Reporter Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected].