“It’s not every day you get to do a boxing match inside a church.”– Event promoter at the Battle for the Troops.
They came prepared, pumped up and ready to rumble...some 32 eager amateur boxers anxious to show their stuff.
They could have been preparing to enter the ring anywhere, but this venue would be unique. This time, the location was inside the sanctuary on the stage at the Rock Church.
The first annual Battle for the Troops charity boxing event was held Saturday, March 9 with over 700 attendees. The event was just one more way Rock Church Senior Pastor, Miles McPherson, envisions to reach out and bring Pervasive Hope to the community of San Diego County.
The family friendly event, held to honor the service and sacrifice of military men and women around the world, featured 16 amateur boxing matches, demonstrations of Mixed Martial Arts fighting and karate, as well as skateboarding, rock climbing and jumpers. All proceeds from the event went to benefit Rock disabled veterans and their families.
Two-time Heavyweight Champion of the World and Christian motivational speaker, Chris Byrd joined McPherson center stage in the ring to welcome those attending. Byrd, who has 275 wins in the amateur ranks and was a silver medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, offered words of advice and encouragement to all amateur fighters. “Watching all of you brings back memories,” said Byrd, “I feel like I am living out my childhood again. This is where it starts. Set your goals and focus so you can get to the highest level.”
For 24-year-old Navy sailor Jessie Martinez, one of the competitors, the event had special meaning. Eighteen family members – including her father and sister – drove from Phoenix, Ariz. to watch Martinez in her first amateur boxing match. Martinez is stationed at Naval Air Station North Island.
“I was nervous about my opponent,” said Martinez. “She’s 5’7” and I am only 5’1”. But I prayed and said, ‘God, you already know the outcome of this fight. You know if I am going to win or lose. Thank you Jesus, for getting me here. Please keep me safe and help me to do my best.’”
In the end, she won the match.
Boxing at the Rock where she has attended services was the perfect place to start her quest to make the Navy boxing team.
“It is humbling to be part of such an outreach,” said Martinez. “A lot of my friends have served in Iraq and the fact that boxers from across California came together to support the cause is amazing.”
Outreach Ministry Manager, Kimberly Jenson, who helped to coordinate the event, said, “With over 700 people attending throughout the day and 100 lives committing to take a step in faith, seeing The Rock as a safe place to seek the Lord - I would say today was all glorifying to God!”