Knockout a V.I.P.

Photo: Tom Greene Photo: Tom Greene

Training for Dayton’s First V.I.P. Fight Night

By Miss Maha

When I first saw the tweet from Melissa Fowler that read: “Miss Maha, I have a unique opportunity for you to lend your celebrity to a charitable cause,” I was intrigued… “I’m recruiting celebrity contestants for a first-ever charity boxing exhibition, to be held at Memorial Hall.” Once I learned that proceeds would go toward the preservation of Dayton History in addition to the fight against HIV and AIDS, I was sold! Free gym use, personal training sessions and learning a new sport all to benefit charity is right up my alley. Plus, how hard could three 60-second bouts in a boxing match really be? Ignorance was bliss, and I signed on immediately to participate in the inaugural Dayton “Knockout” VIP Fight Night.

That evening, I had a horrifying flash back. That episode of the Kardashians where Bruce Jenner convinced the family to participate in a charity boxing match in which professional boxers beat the family to a pulp. I immediately freaked at the thought of having my butt kicked in front of thousands of people and I sent Melissa a message, obviously alarmed. Her immediate response was “We will match you up with someone of similar size, skill, etc. Don’t worry, we want it to be a fair fight.” My mind was put at ease … for the moment.

I knew about Drake’s Downtown Gym and their infamous Fight Nights.  Driving by, I had noticed those fighters training inside. Talk about intimidating! When it came time for my first “hits & mitts” class, I had no idea what to expect. I was very surprised to see men and women of all ages participating in that class. It was like bootcamp. Everyone had to do pushups just because I was late (talk about starting off on the wrong foot!) and then dips, lunges around the gym, tire presses, etc. Once we were warmed up, it was time to hit the bags. I had no clue what I was doing, but it felt really good to punch something that hard. After my mitts session, the trainer pulled me aside and said “You did really well today.” Success!

Over the next few weeks of training I started to feel confident, then we learned about our match-ups. One of my best friends and fellow young professionals, advocate Shanon Potts, and I were the only two who had never boxed before. We had joked that maybe it would be best if we did fight each other … Turns out we wrote our own destiny. Although the thought of taking jabs at each other was horrifying, the thought of receiving jabs from Amelia Robinson made us both realize that this was the best decision.

The first time we sparred it was intense. I realized that those three 60 second bouts that I had thought would be so simple became the hardest 60 seconds of my life! It didn’t help that before Fight Night training, the last time I set foot inside a gym had been 18 months ago when I fell off a treadmill. I definitely needed to work on my cardio and endurance.

Despite several of our friends and co-workers placing side bets amongst themselves for who might kick who’s butt, we are not fighting in an effort to win. This is an exhibition. We are all showcasing the skills that we have learned under the guidance of John Drake, Jab City Boxing and Drake’s Downtown Gym over the past three months. Thank goodness, because I know Shanon could kick my butt!

In addition to learning a new sport, the coolest part about Dayton “Knockout” has been the historical aspect. Most people don’t know that Dayton was once known as one of the most famous boxing towns in the Midwest, or that in the first half of last century, Memorial Hall hosted matches featuring boxing greats like world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. The last official boxing match held at Memorial Hall was in the 1940s, but 2012 will breathe new life into Dayton’s boxing legacy.

It is truly an honor to be one of 16 Dayton “VIPs” to take the ring on Saturday night and have the opportunity to relive history. There will be 8 fights in total for the main event, each with three 60 seconds bouts. After the main event, guests and fighters will head downstairs to the basement of Memorial Hall for a Prohibition themed “Speak Easy Lounge” after-party featuring local band Funky G and The Groove Machine. We’re taking a trip back in time for an unforgettable and historic night on the town.

This is undoubtedly the coolest thing I’ve ever done, and one of the most unique events you could ever attend! Make sure you come downtown for Dayton “Knockout” to watch local VIPs go toe to toe, support two fantastic causes and experience the newest and most unique fundraiser in town.

With the ability to seat nearly 2500 people at Memorial Hall, we are hoping for a sell-out crowd.  To learn more about the event, the lineup of VIPs fighters or to purchase tickets, visit Pre-sale tickets are $15 for general admission or a special $25 ticket includes admission and three drinks. The night of the event, tickets will be $20 at the door. Pre-sale tickets can also be purchased at the Dayton office of ARC Ohio, Carillon Historical Park, Drake’s Downtown Gym, Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery, Brixx Ice Company, the Dublin Pub, Square One Salon & Spa and Ghostlight Coffee.

The Inaugural Dayton Knockout takes place this Saturday, February 25th at Memorial Hall. Doors will open at 7p.m. and the bouts will begin at 8p.m.. Don’t miss it!

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at

Photo: Tom Greene

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