‘We take pride in this’: Sigma Chi fraternity hosts annual ‘Fight Night’


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

Michael Odenthal (right) lands a punch on Colin Craig (left) during their bout on Friday, March 31, 2023 at Lampkin Park in Bowling Green, Ky. at the WKU Sigma Chi Fight Night event to raise money for Huntsman Cancer Institute. Odenthal won the match.

Izzy Lanuza, News reporter

WKU’s Sigma Chi Fraternity hosted a “Fight Night” on Friday, March 31 to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

Semi-pro boxers and fraternity men boxed in front of hundreds of WKU students, alumni, and families to raise money for the cause.

“Fight Night is our coveted philanthropy event,” KJ Kearney, Sigma Chi junior, said. “We get USA boxing to sponsor an event where we have semi pro fighters and Greek life box each other, so we’ll have up to 10 to 20 fights. It’s all regulated.”

Two months before the big event, Sigma Chi sent out a sign-up link to all the fraternities. Three WKU fraternities had men sign up, which were Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Tau Delta, and Sigma Chi. A member from the Sigma Chi Chapter at the University of Kentucky signed up for the event and a Sigma Phi Epsilon member from the University of Louisville signed up as well.

These fraternity members spent months training and preparing for this event. Some of them had never boxed before signing up to compete in Fight Night.

“Just constant training five to six days a week, sometimes seven, for a solid two months,” Jacob Morrison, Pi Kappa Alpha junior, said “Just being ready to take a punch, and receive one.”

Connor Wise, a sophomore in Sigma Chi, spent four months training for the event.

“A lot of hard work, a lot of sweat, a little bit of blood, but other than that just being super disciplined,” Wise said, “I mean, you only get one shot so you have got to be up for it.”

Fraternities weren’t the only ones with men in the ring. BGKY Boxing also had members agree to fight at the event. Number seven ranked boxer in the United States Ebenzer “Stuntman” Griffith also competed in the event.

“I started boxing to prove something to myself, because I’ve always believed there was something special inside of me, and I’m ready to show the world,” Griffith said.

Griffith started fighting nine years ago, when he was only 11 years old. In December, he was invited to the Olympic trials and he hopes to compete in Paris in the 2024 Olympics.

The crowd loved Griffith and chanted his name as he walked up to the ring.

“I love Western Kentucky,” Griffith said. “I love Bowling Green. They all show me a lot of love every time I fight here.”

Despite losing his fight, Griffith remained positive.

“If there’s one thing I can say is that I didn’t cheat myself,” Griffith said. “I’m proud of the performance I put out. I know I can do better. And I’m going to be better.”

Fighters left the ring bruised, bloody and exhausted. Ashton Gaines, a Sigma Chi member from UK, left the ring in tears after injuring his shoulder during the second round of his fight. Other fighters received lesser injuries, as Delta Tau Delta member Colin Craig came out of his fight with only a bloody nose.

Members of Sigma Chi cheer in support of a fighter on Friday, March 31, 2023 at Lampkin Park in Bowling Green, Ky. during their organization’s Fight Night event to raise money for Huntsman Cancer Institute. (Arthur H. Trickett-Wile)

One of the most popular fights of the night was between Wise and Pi Kappa Alpha member Manny Deng. Each fighter’s respective fraternities could be heard cheering for their brother.

“Didn’t come out on top,” Wise said. “I thought it could’ve gone my way, it could’ve gone his way. It’s a toss up, but I did it and it was fun.”

Morrison, who has no boxing background, returned to the ring for the second year in a row.

“It’s the environment,” Morrison said, about his reason to return to the ring. “The environment is fun. Getting people to cheer you on and just being recognized for something.”

Pi Kappa Alpha senior Grant Smith decided to compete in Fight Night for the first time so that he could “go out with a bang.” He started training for the event over winter break and has spent the past month and a half training at BGKY Boxing.

Despite having no previous experience in the ring, Smith was able to secure the win.

“I was just ready to whoop some ass honestly,” Smith said. “I mean, I’ve been preparing for a while. Get in there, get the job done.”

Fighters aren’t the only ones that spents months of time and effort into preparing for this event. The men of Sigma Chi also spent months preparing for this day. The WKU chapter is one of only three Sigma Chi chapters that host a “Fight Night.”

The two biggest things they have to do are getting USA Boxing involved and finding the venue. They also need to finance security and a bar.

“It’s a long process that people on the outside probably don’t realize,” Kearney said. “We take pride in this, it’s our philanthropy.”

Sigma Chi charged $150 for VIP tickets and $30 for general admission. The VIP area was more spacious and pass holders could freely move around the space, had tables to rest at and featured an open bar. The general admissions side was full, with the crowd shoulder to shoulder.

While Fight Night is their most popular event and “money-maker” event, it is not their only philanthropy event. Sigma Chi also hosted a telethon, a paintball event, and a cornhole tournament.

All proceeds that were raised at Fight Night and throughout the rest of Sigma Chi’s philanthropy week will be donated to Huntsman Cancer Institute, a woman’s cancer research foundation.

“Cancer is something that affects everybody, and especially women’s cancer,” Kearney said, “It is something specific that everybody can get behind.”

Like a lot of his brothers, Kearney has a personal reason to support cancer research.

“I lost my grandfather to cancer,” Kearney said. “I watched my best friend’s mother beat breast cancer. I watched two of my other elementary school teachers beat breast cancer.”

Last year, the event raised $50,000 and they were able to send $25,000 to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Sigma Chi estimated that they raised around $65,000 this year, and after paying off expenses, they should be able to send around $35,000 to the foundation.

News reporter Izzy Lanuza can be reached at [email protected].