In Anaconda, Montana history was made June 30, 2017, when Jacob Fridley and Erick Hempstead of Lights Out Boxing returned boxing to the town after a 20-year absence. It also included Montana’s first female fight. Anaconda was once a tough town filled with tough men willing to prove themselves in the ring. With the dwindling of the mines went the dwindling of the men; physical action replaced first with arcade machines then smart phones. One can only punch buttons on an, i-phone for so long until boredom settles in. A Montana town needs Montana action, not frou-frou video games common with many of today’s rubber-kneed pseudo-males. Montana needs boxing.

The action occurred at the historic Washoe Theater, the last built Nuevo Art-Deco Theater in the country. The theater is a lovely venue for a boxing match, richly decorated with room for tables around two sides of the ring for high rollers and sponsors and comfortable seating out front for the audience including a balcony for necking between bouts.

That Hempstead and Fridley had the energy to both fight that night was, remarkable. Both men worked tirelessly almost until the opening bell. Small budget shows require much effort by the promoters since there is little money to hire much needed help. It takes real dedication to both promote and to fight.

Beer flowed freely through the mostly all white fans. (Montana is not exactly considered “liberal” and any signs of the many black cowboys who helped build the past have disappeared.) Regardless of how one tries to disguise it, professional boxing is an "us against them" contest whether it's Montana against Idaho, Anaconda against Billings, or a black man against a white men. A black man against Hempstead would sell out the state. Even better if he's from Billings.

Montana has no boxing commission, at least none visible. According to Gary Pemble, of Pemble Enterprises, one has been proposed but, since the government is involved, they are unable to actually make a decision or do anything as yet. According to ring announcer Chauncy Welliver, Montana does have a commission but they are easily ignored. Because of this I offer a word of caution: ALL JUDGE'S DECISIONS OF THESE BOUTS ARE SUSPECT! (On several occasions the excellent referee, Russ Hanson, had to explain the rules to the judges.)

 

MAIN EVENT

 

Eric Hempstead by KO over Anthony Sullivan – There is no doubting the popularity of Hempstead. The town loves him – not so much Anthony Sullivan. Sullivan is considered the Montana State Champion although such official information is scarce. It certainly does not appear on BoxRec. Hempstead came out strong and battered Sullivan about the ring. Sullivan attempted to fight back but with little success. Hempstead is a heavy hitter and all his 6 wins have come by knockouts over pro debut fighters with losing records. His power is not in doubt. The fight was all action and very satisfying for the crowd. Along with power, the very quiet Hempstead also carries the killer instinct needed in a fighter with potential. With any luck he might be able to return boxing to the area on a regular basis. He could make a real mark in Montana.

 

Bout 1 – Johnny Brock scored a UD over John Freeze

Bout 2 – Kenneth Johnson scored a SD over Jacob Fridley. History was also made in Montana with one of the most ridiculous decisions the state has ever seen. Fridley looked extremely good and stylish as he continued to pick Johnson apart. He managed to catch a few shots in the third round by lowering his right. Had he thrown any body shots he would have dropped the aging Johnson. Johnson is tough and battle-hardened but was clearly out-slicked by Fridley. Two of the three judges didn’t know a left hook from a maple bar. I am sure they can find work in Australia.

Bout 3 - Shawn Patrick O’Hara by UD over Shaun Forsberg.

Bout 4 – Erik Lopez KO over Kyle Segmiller. Segmiller started well in the 1st round and there was no shortage of action for as long as it lasted. Lopes came alive in round 2 and finally put Segmiller away.

Bout 5 – Thomas Allison KO over Michael Whitman. Two raw kids with lots of energy made for an entertaining fight.

Bout 6 – Donald Cyr vs Dylan Martin

Bout 7 – Dennis Creasin KO over Chris Marez. In a terribly brutal KO Creasin sent Marez reeling. Marez, eyes somewhere neat the planet Krypton, went down, rose knee high, stumbled across the ring reeling from rope to rope, and finally woke up asking for extra cheese on his pizza. A brave man who tried desperately to rise when others would have simply lain there picking their noses.

Bout 8 – Wendy Toni by SD over Amanda Guidoni. In Montana’s first ever woman’s bout, tiny Toni, like an electric typewriter, tapped away at Guidoni. There were no weigh-ins for the fights and apparently discrepancies in tonnage were not a problem. Guidoni looked huge compared to Toni. She fought hard and the fight could have gone either way.

Bout 9 Andrew Huckabee by UD over Cody Woslager. A very good scrap and one of the most enjoyable fights of the evening. Wodlager was intent of letting a salvo then running. He foot-word was great. Unfortunately for him, this was not a foot race and Huckabee managed to catch him often enough to carry the bout.

Bout 10 – Tylor Reed by SD over Brandon Brisbo. Another entertaining fight. Brisbo seemed the better skilled boxer but he suffered from the one ailment that defeats many new boxers – out of shape. By round 2 he was tired and Reed took over.

Bout 11 – Chris LaTray by TKO over Jace Lane. For a big man, LaTray showed nice skills in his win.

 

Montana is my favorite state, vast plains, rolling hills, rugged mountains, and rivers and streams carrying the most pristine water in the world. What a place to spend time in the wilderness. And that is just what is needed when attempting to stage a low budget boxing event. Because there was no money for rooms, many of the dedicated boxers at the event agreed to sleep in tents at the park. Even ring announcer Chauncy Welliver stayed in a tent. These are the kinds of people so dedicated to the sport they will do almost anything to bring an event to life.

Anaconda is a lovely place to hold such an event. The small town is welcoming, the pizza is first rate, and nothing beats breakfast at Donivan’s.

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