Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Firefighters, Police Officers Climb into the Ring for Charity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Firefighters, Police Officers Climb into the Ring for Charity

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg, River City News correspondent

More than 5,000 people gathered Friday night on the Southside to watch police officers beat up firefighters.

Or firefighters beat up police officers.

The throng was at the University of North Florida's Arena for the fifth annual Guns N' Hoses charity slugfest between the two public safety groups.

"This was the biggest crowd, by far, that we've ever had," said Detective Robbie Freitas of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Freitas, organizer of the annual event run by the Fraternal Order of Police, attributed its growing popularity to three factors: "People feel good about attending a charity event, people love to watch great boxing and the boxers represent the two agencies that keep everybody safe."

Boxing for the benefit of the Police Athletic League and the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 16 three-minute rounds, the natural allies were fierce adversaries in the ring Friday night.

"There's a lot of pride at stake here," FOP President David Stevens said prior to the event. "The first Guns N' Hoses in 1999 ended in a tie. The firemen have defeated us each year since then. It's hard for these fighters to live with losing for a year. They can't wait to get back in the ring."

In spite of the rivalry between the two factions, Stevens noted that the boxers are in sync when it comes to the real winners of Guns N' Roses. During the past four years, more than $120,000 has been raised for charity.

As restaurant waitresses wove in and out serving tables, bells clanged and a rowdy crowd cheered for the firefighters in red trunks and police officers in blue. It was standing room only for many, with those who had seats jumping up often and rocking the arena with each well-placed punch.

While boxers vied for victory in the ring, verbal jabs were landed in the locker rooms.

"I work with some of the boxers from the Sheriff's Office. …

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