Rock-'Em-Sock-'Em Hotshots

Firefighters box cops for charity in 'Battle of the Badges'

Photo by Jana Birchum

Deeper meaning? C’mon son, this whole event was for charity. But the ones sparring in the ring were actually boxing one another – were, you know, juking, jiving, dropping hooks from left and right.

Seeing things that way, it’s safe to say local law enforcement got their proverbial asses whupped Saturday night at Austin’s first annual Battle of the Badges, a charity fundraiser benefiting Partnerships for Children, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas, 100 Club of Central Texas, and the Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund. Of the 16 actualized bouts (APD senior officer Jason Wolf won his match on a default decision after his opponent failed to post for weigh-ins), the Austin Fire Department and a few ringers from Emergency Service Districts 11, 5, and 8 won 11 of the bouts held against a blue-trimmed conglomeration of officers from the APD and Travis County Sheriff’s Office. All told, the contest saw four knockouts, a series of split decisions, one much-publicized nipple slip (from a dancer escorting one boxer to the ring pre-fight), and, by my count, three potentially broken noses.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office fared worst, you could say, dropping 10 of 13 matches and the first seven of the evening. TCSO officer Mario Sotelo ended the drought with a super heavy weight knockout of the Pedernales Fire Department’s Justin O’Baugh, springing a three-bout run by the association of law enforcement officials. But an Ivan Drago-looking fellow named Damian McKeon, who beat APD officer Keston Campbell on a judge’s decision, helped return momentum to the firefighters, who went on to enjoy a successful evening.

(Now would be a good time to explain that, a few hours before the event, I drove past the Hyde Park Fire Station and spotted a firefighter standing in the driveway beating a tractor tire with a sledgehammer, something you rarely see from local on-duty cops during their moments of downtime.)

In any event, both sides should have teamed up to land a right-handed roundhouse on evening emcee Chad Hays, an Arkansas-born Sean Hannity-befriended comedian who apparently emcees events like these all over God’s green country. Hays, a U.S. Army vet who served in Desert Storm, presided over the evening with four-hours worth of racist and sexist jokes, balancing appreciations for religious deities with chauvinistic lines about the daintiness of the female boxers and a willingness to make fun of one Asian firefighter’s name.

In fact, the whole event Saturday seemed to carry a weight of false values and unforeseen cultural ironies, whether it be through Hays’ doggish musings, the assault rifle a Houston gun retailer auctioned off “for the children,” or the two African-American dancers who emerged onto a platform dressed as cowgirls so that they could mockingly dance to the Gourds’ cover of iconic gangster rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.”

Via Twitter from his vacation spot in Hawaii, Police Chief Art Acevedo told two women in attendance Saturday that he’d “debrief” with Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton and AFD chief Rhoda Mae Kerr about the tone of the evening’s rhetoric “to do better in the future.” Surely our police chief has better things to do than monitor the anti-social undertones of our city’s weekend fundraisers, but someone should get on that. No female officer doing three rounds in the ring for the sake of kids with Down Syndrome should have to be reminded she might break a nail.

See the blow-by-blow action in our photo gallery.

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