Island prepares for first boxing match in a century

Laura “Angel of Death” Swanson trains with Bainbridge Island Boxing Club owner Ben Little.  Swanson will be fighting in a match at the Battle for the Beast on Saturday, Aug. 11 against Allison “Sugarfists” Spiceland. - Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review
Laura “Angel of Death” Swanson trains with Bainbridge Island Boxing Club owner Ben Little. Swanson will be fighting in a match at the Battle for the Beast on Saturday, Aug. 11 against Allison “Sugarfists” Spiceland.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

Islanders from the Bainbridge Island Boxing Club won’t have to wonder if they could have been a contender—they will be this weekend.

Battle for the Beasts will take over the Bainbridge Boxing Club at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Boxers from the island will be putting on their gloves for charity — proceeds will benefit the Kitsap Humane Society.

The boxing matches have been a long time coming to the island. It will be the first match in more than 100 years on Bainbridge Island. The last match in 1906 drew a considerable crowd.

“It was down in Pleasant Beach where Lynwood Center is now,” said Ben Little, owner of the Bainbridge Island Boxing Club.

The match featured lightweight legend Joe Gans. A hotel hosted the event, but sold twice as many tickets as there was seating, resulting in crowds of angry fans left outside.

“There was a big match and it was oversold, so people climbed the walls to watch,” Little said.

Not only did they climb the walls, a mob broke through one of the doors. The swelling audience caused the stadium seating to collapse, sending 160 spectators falling to the ground.

Aside from a promotional event for the opening of the Town & Country Market in 1957 that brought Joe Louis and Max Baer to the island, boxing hasn’t been very prominent until Little opened up the Bainbridge Island Boxing Club last year on Madison Avenue.

Now the club is showing the island what makes boxing great, and fun. And it’s for a good cause: the Humane Society.

“It should be completely unique for the island and a pretty fun way to spend a Saturday night,” Little said.

The event will include two kickboxing matches, and three orthodox boxing matches.

The main event will feature John “Sandman” Daigneault up against Dustin “Hurricane” Praxedes. Both contenders are professional MMA fighters.

Other matches will place Laura “Angel of Death” Swanson against Allison “Sugarfists” Spiceland, Isiah “King Kong” Conner versus Jason “Mean Mother” Tucker, Jim “Iron Man” Savage facing James “The Vanilla Gorilla” Miller, and a match between Keenan Borrow and Josh Girello.

Professional UFC fighter Ivan Salaverry will be one of the judges for the matches.

Little said that while the boxing matches are quite a spectacle to see, they aren’t as sensationally ruthless as what people might expect

“It’s a very athletic sport,” Little said. “It’s not as brutal as a lot of people think it is. It’s a technique-based point scoring sport.”

“There is point scoring, 10 points per round,” he added. “A guy can have a perfect defense, not get hit, and still not win a match.”

Fighters for the Aug. 11 matches come from Little’s own gym and across the Puget Sound in Seattle, and span all skill levels.

“The pros have opted not to wear head gear, but everybody else will be wearing head gear and pads,” Little said.

One such fighter is Swanson, an islander and member of the Bainbridge Boxing Club.

“I’m completely addicted to it,” Swanson said.

“I’m really looking forward to the fight this weekend because it will be a great learning experience and I’m excited to get a ton of people in the gym to see what we do every day and how hard everyone has been working,” she added.

Swanson will be displaying her kickboxing skills during her match. She has grown enthusiastic about the sport and trains regularly at the club.

“Nothing motivates me to push myself more than boxing and Muay Thai (kick boxing),” Swanson said. “It’s the perfect thing to do at the end of my day to get out any frustrations, work hard and get a surge of endorphins that lasts for hours after I’m done.”

Swanson also works with the Humane Society. She has a little extra incentive to put on a good show.

“I’m also so happy that we get to raise money for the animals at the Kitsap Humane Society by doing what we love to do,” Swanson said.

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