“And the winner is...”
Amateur boxers looking for a place to trade blows need look no further than Sports USA. The venue is the site of Friday Fight Night on the third Friday of each month.
Cory Goodwin started Fort Bragg Smokers in August 2016 after an extensive boxing and promotional career, including time in the Air Force. He said he wanted to create a monthly charity-based boxing event and chose Fort Bragg because of its high-speed Soldiers. All charities that benefit from Friday Night Fights have military ties.
“We wanted to come up with a way for Soldiers to have fun and be able to give back every month to a particular charity,” Goodwin said.
The matches are restricted to rookie fighters only to prevent boxers from getting hurt.
“Amateurs kind of connotes a little more experience and training. We want guys who just want to come in and say ‘Hey I want to fight my friend,’” explained Goodwin.
The matches are open to the public, but Goodwin encourages Soldiers to come out for “Battalion vs. Battalion” fights. He hopes that as the event grows, unit leadership will become more involved with those matches.
According to Goodwin, there is one simple reason Soldiers should participate in the monthly Friday Fight Nights.
“They need to get that aggression out.”
Walter Waite, “world-class” match announcer and active-duty Soldier, agreed. He said when he first stepped into the ring as a young Soldier, he learned something about himself.
“When you’re in a boxing ring one-on-one with somebody else, it’s an individual challenge and most people in this world never have that chance to get in the ring,” he said. “What Cory’s doing is giving the average Soldier the chance to get in the ring and challenge themselves and grow as an individual and as a Soldier.”
Fighters do not need to have an ounce of experience to enter the ring at Sports USA. Goodwin and his team will even provide gear if boxers need it. They inspect all gear brought into the ring if boxers choose to use their own.
Goodwin encourages all fighters to check in at Sports USA during lunch the day of the fight. This helps him prepare the schedule in advance, but fighters will be accepted until 6 p.m. Fights start at 7:30 p.m. All boxers will be matched as closely as possible based on weight.
Waite said all this preparation creates the safest atmosphere he has ever experienced in a boxing smoker. All matches are halted before a boxer gets hurt to ensure no one suffers serious injury.
“This is a sporting event that has risk mitigation involved,” he explained.
This doesn’t mean match organizers sacrifice fun, however. Goodwin said spectators have a lot to look forward to when they come to a Friday Fight Night.
“Trash-talking, fun, and competition. We want it to be kind of like a big fight party, rather than a formal event.”
Waite said there is nowhere in the local area where Soldiers can get a better deal on a night of entertainment. All fights are Family-friendly, and food and beverages are available for purchase at each event.
The next fight night is Sept. 15. For more information about Friday Fight Nights, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/calendar/event/friday-fight-night/863970 or email fortbraggsmoker@gmail.com.