Two firefighters with local roots put on 16-ounce boxing gloves and got in the ring last week – for a worthy cause.
Big Walnut High School graduate Allison Holtsberry and Centerburg graduate Kristen Hunt, who also studied at the Delaware Area Career Center, stepped into the boxing ring Aug. 6 and went three rounds at the “Guns-N-Hoses Battle of the Bravest” fundraiser.
The event, presented by Title Boxing Club and hosted by Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus, raised money to support families of fallen or injured firefighters and police officers.
Holtsberry works as a full-time firefighter/paramedic with the Genoa Township Fire Department, and works part time with Westerville. Hunt is a full-time Washington Township firefighter/paramedic who also volunteers with the Porter-Kingston Fire District.
Holtsberry and Hunt had each been scheduled to fight police officers, but the cops backed out — so they agreed to fight each other.
Holtsberry, who had not boxed or been hit until she began training for the fight two months ago, worked out at Born With It Boxing and Fitness. Her main trainer was Mike Sheperd, but Sheperd was also boxing Thursday evening so pro boxer Mondo Ancona was in her corner during the bout.
“I trained every Sunday for the past two months with a group of guys from Westerville, and a couple of times during the week as well,” Holtsberry said. “When I get in the ring, I’m not worried about being hit — that’s OK. I worry about getting punches off.”
Hunt said it was also her first time in the ring, but she trains in Krav Maga, which is a self-defense system developed in Israel.
“I actually got involved in the boxing event through a coach and friend at the gym, Mark Knight, who is also a Columbus firefighter,” Hunt said. “He boxed in the same event in the spring and loved it, so he persuaded me to try it also.”
Following three one-minute rounds, judges gave the fight to Hunt.
“Allison was tough, she landed some pretty good shots so I didn’t feel very good after the fight,” Hunt said. “In a way I found it fun though. I would definitely do it again.”
Holtsberry, who trains for CrossFit and placed third in last September’s Strongest Firefighter 2014 competition at the Ohio Fire & EMS Expo at the Columbus Convention Center, said after the fight that she found boxing to be a very fast-paced sport.
“I might just stick with CrossFit,” Holtsberry said.
Holtsberry and Hunt both said following the fight that getting in the ring was more about supporting fellow firefighters and police officers and their families than winning a boxing match.
Hunt said she thought money raised last week would go towards helping Lt. Stu Tudor and his family. Tudor is a Columbus firefighter who was struck by lightning after a Columbus Crew game in June 2014. Tudor and his family were in the audience.
Hunt also said she was informed that the Guns-N-Hoses fundraising event is going to be a part of the Arnold Classic in the spring every year, creating more opportunities to raise money for a good cause.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093