Saturday May 2, at the corner of Lindsey St. and College Ave., J.J.'s Pizza Stop set forth its first annual boxing tournament to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network.
The benefit was scheduled as an all day with center-ring boxing matches, courtesy of Conan's Gym, scheduled throughout. However with the heavy overcast and cool winds, the crowds were not all too forth coming.
"Honestly, we put this all together to get the word out about J.J.'s. Originally we were going to donate all of the proceeds to the Bob Stoops Foundation, but because of the boxing ring, Stoops did not want to be involved. All of the proceeds ended up going to the Children's Miracle Network," said Joshua Hinkle, event coordinator.
The Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals around the world. According to their website, donations to Children’s Miracle Network from events such as this fund the medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of 17 million children each year.
The heavy misting and 50 degree temperatures were the most obvious causes of the near empty donation buckets, but talks of continuing the event in future years was talked about optimistically by Hinkle.
The event featured Norman-local bands Resident Funk and The Gunship. Also, the National Guard had promised to set up a rock climbing wall and human gyro.
"[The National Guard] never showed up because of the rain," Hinkle said, “It would have been too much of a liability and hastle.”
Along with the festivities, there were drink specials, pizza, burgers, gyros, hot wings and t-shirts for sale, provided by J.J.'s Pizza Stop.
"I have been friends with Jim Brooks (the owner of J.J.'s) for several years. I worked there during my freshman and sophomore year of college, and whenever he has a big event, like game days or boxing bashes he asks me to come and help out. I always do too, because it is fun and a great way to make some extra cash," Hinkle said.
Scott Allen, a J.J.'s Pizza employee took care of contacting the city and filing for the permit. The city of Norman supplied all of the roadblocks, as well as scheduled the Cleveland County Sheriff to make a stop by to make sure all activities were legal and safe.
"If I could change anything about the Boxing Bash it would be the weather, but I would also like to use a different company for the boxing ring. They were very unprofessional, and late. The ring was supposed to be assembled by noon, and it was not completed until 3:30 p.m.," Hinkle said.
As the event was scheduled to at noon, and the boxing ring had yet to set up at that time, Hinkle had to rely on quick thinking to find a solution. With help of the some of the neighboring Lambda Chi Alphas and a few other visitors, the ring was picked up and assembled without a hitch.
"I was offered community service hours by one of my pledge brothers, and free beer if I helped out," said Michael Peery, meteorology sophomore, “I had to go pick up the boxing ring, load it up, bring it to JJ's, and then put it all together. It was more difficult and took longer to do than I thought it would. I would definitely help out again next year though because the profits really do go to a good cause."
Admission into the boxing tournament was the highest source of donations, at $25 per entry. However, each contestant received a free mudguard.
“As soon as I signed up I ran home an found one of my old athletic cups and put it on,” Owen Hartley, economics junior.
Below: Here is Owen Hartley's personal account of his match during the first annual JJ's Jam and Boxing Benefit.
In total there were five matches, consisting of three, three-minute rounds. While Hinkle says that he would have liked more matches, he admits that for a first annual event, this Boxing Bash was a hit.
"The last fight that I stayed for were two of my friends from the army. They were both drunk; during their match, one was wearing cowboy boots and the other wasn't wearing any shoes," said John Green, military studies junior.
Aside from the drink specials that allowed for some rambunctious matches, the event overall proved to provide great time for the some 100 visitors.
"I had a really good time there. It wasn't too crowded, but there were enough people that it didn't seem lame. The band was obnoxiously loud, but the pizza was [really] awesome," Green said.