ABOARD USS BOXER (LHD 4) -- The first rule of fight night is; everybody goes to fight night. The second rule of fight night is; everybody goes to fight night.
Boxers, boxing fans and non-boxing fans alike gather in the hangar deck of USS Boxer (LHD4) every Wednesday night for an evening of boxing and entertainment.
With the hangar deck turned into a make-shift boxing arena, literally hundreds of interested Marines and Sailors gather to watch fighters go head to head in three, three-minute rounds.
Using 16 ounce boxing gloves, mouthpieces, head and groin protection, plus having two Navy Corpsmen present, First Sergeant Charles Hutto, Weapons Company 2/4 ensures that all safety precautions are in place.
Hutto explained that he wanted some type of event to keep Marines entertained, something they could look forward to every week.
In the seven weeks since fight night has been held, the event has grown exponentially in both spectators and boxers. For the first fight there were approximately 150 fans watching two scheduled fights and now the numbers reach up to 400. Today, due to the large number of prospective fighters, even willing participants are turned away.
“I actually had to turn people away a week and a half ago, because there was no way we could fit them in one night,” said Hutto.
Known as the “Don King” of the USS Boxer, Hutto matches the fighters according to weight, ability and the amount of excitement the fight will garner. Of course the fights are not without rules and it is Hutto’s job to ensure there is an even match-up and a good clean fight.
Establishing limits while keeping it fun, Hutto requires the fighters to abide by several simple rules. No hits to the back of the body or the head, kicks are allowed only to soft tissue, no use of elbows or knees to strike, are just a few rules he holds the fighters accountable for.
“There are maybe eight rules. The last two rules I tell them before I start the fight is; I reserve the right to stop the fight at any time if anyone is medically injured—it’s my call whether they like it or not, or if the fighter is just outclassed,” said Hutto.
The fighters have varying degrees of experience. Many have never been in a fight before and others are considered amateur boxers.
“Some guys have never been in a fight. One of the [fighters] actually put on the gloves for the first time a couple of weeks ago and there was [another Marine] who has fought in some junior [Ultimate Fighting Championship] matches,” said Hutto.
Lance Cpl Ron Hinds, administrative clerk, BLT 2/4, one of the recent participants in fight night, is glad to see how the event has progressed over the last seven weeks. Having no real experience in boxing, Hinds’ first match was in the ring at Fight Night.
Fighting his first match, Hinds explained that many things were going through his mind. The noise of the crowd cheering added some confusion to the fight and one point he did not know whether to strike his opponent or listen to the Marine in his corner.
“It felt different because it was difficult to concentrate. At one point I didn’t know what to do, but it was a great experience because someone might want to run but you can’t because you have stand and fight,” said Hinds.
What the future holds for Fight Night is uncertain, but Hutto explained that there are plans to take the event a little further. Some type of tournament or championship round might be in the works since there are some unit rivalries and boxers that the spectators would enjoy watching.
The 15th MEU (SOC), part of Expeditionary Strike Group 5 aboard the USS Boxer (LHD4), USS Dubuque (LPD8) and the USS Comstock (LSD45) is currently deployed in the Western Pacific Region.