Annual Fight Night Comes Out Swinging
Kyle Florence

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This past Saturday, bar-goers in downtown Stevens Point were offered the opportunity to throw back more than just drinks. The annual event, aptly nicknamed “Fight Night” by students and residents alike, returned to Club 956.

“It’s crowd-participation kick-boxing. You do not receive any form of compensation for partici­pating, and it is strictly regulated and completely voluntary,” said Tim Schertz, the owner of the establish­ment.

According to Schertz, fights take place every Saturday night through the months of February and March. Anyone willing is welcome to partake, and participants must sign up between 10 and 11 p.m. Eight par­ticipants are selected each night, and they are matched by size, weight, and physical stature. Before each match begins, participants are fitted with an array of protective equipment to ensure their safety.

“Everyone has shin protec­tors, groin protectors, head protec­tors, and everyone gets a fresh mouth guard,” Schertz said. “Heavier gloves are used to soften the blows, and there is always a licensed paramedic on sight.”

In spite of these precau­tions, however, some University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students are still not convinced of the legitimacy of Fight Night.

“It doesn’t seem very safe,” said Molly Santkuyl, a senior early childhood education major. “I don’t think that putting drunk people into a metal ring and having them fight each other is a very smart idea.”

Director of Student Health Services Jen Sorenson shares a simi­lar outlook, maintaining that con­cussions and other similar injuries associated with repeated blows to the head are an unavoidable risk.

“Concussions are obviously a concern, but we also need to worry about second-impact syndrome,” Sorenson said. “An initial concus­sion can cause damage and cogni­tive problems, but if you get another injury within a short timeframe after that, you can actually have significant additive effects to the original cogni­tive impairment.”

Schertz is adamant, however, that safety is his number one priority.

“I always assess participants’ level of alcohol consumption—if you’re intoxicated, you will not be allowed to participate,” Schertz said. “If, for any reason, I feel that one par­ticipant is far superior to the other, then the match is stopped. If you ever get a bloody nose or bloody lip or any­thing like that, the match is stopped. If at any point you are knocked down, the match is stopped.”

Alicia Casey, who is also a senior at UWSP, said she feels the fighting is not specifically what is dangerous, but rather the message it sends to spectators.

“I think that it provokes violence in the audience. The fact that most of the people watching are drunk—I think it could cause situa­tions to escalate a lot faster,” Casey said.

Claire Kirschoffer, a graphic design major, agrees.

“It sounds slightly unsafe if people were to get drunk later and attempt to have a rematch with some­one outside of the ring or make a negative decision due to alcohol con­sumption afterwards,” Kirschoffer said.

This apprehension, however, is not apparently shared by all.

“The public is requesting it to be here on a regular basis,” Schertz said in reference to “Fight Night.” “People always want it to come back because it is a fun promotion that everyone can participate in.”

Seth Nelson, a paper science and engineering major, said that he has always enjoyed attending.

“It seems fun with a reason­able amount of safety,” Nelson said. “I guess something could go wrong, but I see no more risk than any other kind of intramural event.”

Steven Kling, a UWSP senior, also has no issue with Fight Night returning to Stevens Point.

“I think it is a great idea to get people into the bar and boost business,” Kling said. “I personally went to the fights this past Saturday and was thoroughly entertained.”

Zach Brandenburg, a for­mer UWSP student and resident of Wisconsin Rapids, participated in Fight Night last Saturday, and made it clear that he did not regret his deci­sion.

“I felt that the fights were con­ducted in a safe way,” Brandenburg said. “Before we fought, we had to meet with the bar owner, and he went over what was legal and what wasn’t. It was pretty obvious that safety was his main priority, other than provid­ing fun entertainment for everyone.”

Nevertheless, Sorenson remains skeptical.

“Fighting generally ends badly. Protective gear or not, alcohol consumption or not, there is always the risk of injury,” Sorenson said.

Regardless of personal stance however, Schertz assures that Fight Night is both safe and here to stay.

“People come to participate thinking that this is an Ultimate Fighting Championship-style event, and it’s not. You need to wear the gear, and there is no grappling, no elbows, no going to the floor and no wrestling,” Schertz said. “It’s good fun. It’s for entertainment, and it’s not meant to be any more than that.”