On the eve of Thanksgiving, I brawled out with Power 96.1 morning show host Bret Mega at Buckhead Brawl. That night was by far one the best times ever, not just for me but all who came.
Ask anyone that attended their thoughts on Buckhead Brawl and you are sure to receive nothing less than “Wow! Wow and wow again!” Matt Thomas, the organizer, transformed the Grand Hyatt’s ballroom into a movie scene.
Guest fancied their way across red carpet into a lobby so lively you could lose yourself in the platonic energy forgetting the main event to come. A barrage of elegant wardrobes filled rooms and crowded mini bars and casino tables. Lofty bartenders served a marathon of drinks and noble pit masters awarded the lucky few. Some guest posed for photos nearby or eagerly approached admirable people like host Jessica Black, Miss United States 2010 and Ronndell Smith of GAFollowers.
Music roaring from the ballroom peaked our curiosity for what lay behind either sets of double doors left us taken back. The site of the glamourous chandelier hanging over the boxing ring stirred a new thrill. The appeal was so immaculate that even if you were in general admission you felt like VIP, especially if this was your first time attending a boxing event.
The first fight commenced and viewers realized, these are real fights! Contenders wore protective headgear and girdles, but that didn’t prevent a few bloody noses and a couple knock downs.
My first time ever stepping into a boxing ring was at Buckhead Brawl. I never saw myself boxing, let alone being popped by a popular iHeart Radio show host, Bret Mega of the Power 96 Morning Show.
We first met at Delgado boxing gym a while back. I was in need of a story to write and went to catch up with a different fighter, Adam Berlin. Adam happened to be training alongside Bret and radio co-host Scotty K. The two co-host were initially arranged to fight each other in the main event.
It was a fun meetup. Bret and I didn’t share many words. I was more focused on interviewing Adam and learning about Delgado Boxing’s charitable initiatives. Every Saturday, Delgado host sparing matches to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease.
Outside of promoting and marketing for the event, I didn’t think much of the actual fights until two weeks prior to the event. I was sitting around drinking a beer with Ronndell when he gets a text from Matt. “Scotty’s nose is broken. Think you can get JB to fight?” Ronndell shared the text with me and I fell out laughing. “Y’all are joking, right?”
They weren’t joking.
I sat on my decision for a couple days, quietly hoping Matt would find another contender. That weekend, a couple of us met up at Big Sky Buckhead and Matt proposed to me again that I fight. After a few drinks and a bit more pressure, I said “F*ck it!”
Agreeing to step in the ring proved one of the best decisions each of us contenders made. For me, it was like the time I quit a well-paying job. There was no looking back or worrying about the risk involved, just making the most of what’s to come.
Initially, I became most concerned with my performance. But after texting Adam one night who lead in fundraising, I remembered why we were doing this event in the first place. I got to calling, emailing, and doing what I could to fuel my pot with donations. I think Bret noticed my last minute momentum and collectively, we raised more than one-thousand dollars in less than two days.
The day of the fight finally arrives and for me, reality still hasn’t sunk in. Not even during the certification process us boxers went through. A doctor gave us a quick physical, we filled out paper work for our boxing license, and then there was the weigh-in. The weigh-in that almost prevented the match between Bret and I from happening. Not going to say how light I am, but I weighed in underweight and had to put on 8 pounds within an hour. If Bret and I weren’t within 10 lbs of each others weight, the refs wouldn’t permit the fight.
Adjusting weight in a short amount of time prior to a fight is common for fighters, another first time for me. You either drink or eat a lot to put on weight or omit doing so to lose weight. My weight gain was pretty comical. In a back room, as I’m scarfing down Zaxby’s and water dressed in only boxers, Scotty K. randomly finds silverware and shoves it into the back of my draws. I tried adding more weight by hiding two water bottles between my crotch. We went a bit overboard and the ref caught on, making me remove the items. After about forty minutes of more water and Zaxby’s, I finally hit the mark.
My first spar ever in a ring didn’t go as I had hoped. Bret landed some huge hits. I remember my nose running during the first round and going back to my corner with a huge smile thinking, “this is awesome. I just got my first bloody nose!” Josh Jelks held it down as my corner coach and I have to thank him a lot for managing my bloody towel. I also have to thank each of my friends for cheering me on. Having them out there was the most exciting part for me.
So, I took an L but I can take a hit. I commend every fighter for stepping in the ring.
The events biggest success was fundraising. Overall, with the help of our donors, we collectively raised over $35,000 for different charities.
Adam Berlin helped raise the most for his charity ARCA, the Aids Research Consortium of Atlanta. Adam fought in honor of his late uncle, Martin Menachem Carl who died of Aids at 31 shortly before Adam was born. Though Adam was in a couple bar fights and lost a fight to a snowboard, this was his first time boxing. He walked off with a few bruises and a larger nose, but kept his head held high after he won his match.
Another great contender, Matty Ryan, or Matty Ice as we like to call him, helped raise over three-thousand dollars for his charity Hero Initiative, a financial safety net for comic creators (heroiniative.org). Though Matty lost his fight, he did a hell of a job in the ring.
There were many other fighters, each with their own story like Jewell Lane who fought to fundraise for his daughters college tuition. I caught the 29 year old Director of Security for Atlanta Tech Village training with Matt Thomas a few times. It’s great to see the hard work each of the fighters put in, in preparation for their bouts.
- Joseph Hodges 6. Robert French 11. Jason Jordan
- Adrian Marshall 7. Christopher Mench 12. Ricardo Botet
- Turner Levison 8. Jason Miller 13. Harrison Aiken
- David Collins 9. Joe Hodges 14. Derek Woodburn
- Charles Gunn 10. Chris Corriere 15. Adam Wayton
A lot of blood and sweat went into the making of this event. No tears of course. There were an equal amount of loses to wins, but overall everyone truly did win something being a part of Buckhead Brawl. Make way for many more to come!