January 5, 2018 10:38:50 AM
Shawn Gates has wanted to do something for Columbus for a long time.
With experience as a kickboxer and as a professional fighter, Gates thought the natural thing to do was to connect with Oliver Miller, who owns Miller's Tae-Kwon-Do in Columbus and has worked with and trained fighters. Gates said he and Miller have worked for the past six months to come up with an event that will bring energy back to the city. The result of their hard work is Friendly City Boxing Night, which will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus.
"We have been working on getting the Trotter rented, getting the fighters lined up, making sure we have all of the paperwork done, matching the fighters, selling tickets, getting advertising, and a lot of other stuff," said Gates, who works at Southern Housing in Columbus. "We thought we would bring something to Columbus to get something going. We think this is something that Columbus is going to enjoy."
From 6-8 tonight, there will be weigh-in at Buffalo Wild Wings on Highway 45 in Columbus.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. Gates said the first fight will be an exhibition and will start a little after 6:30 p.m. He said the main portion of the card, which will feature six fights, will start at 7 p.m.
Ringside tickets are $30. Tickets for floor seats behind the ringside seats are $20. Upper level tickets are $15. Gates said beverages, including beer, will be sold, but there won't be any food sold.
Gates said he and Miller hope to do boxing events three times a year in Columbus. He said he won't participate in the initial event, but he promised he would fight in the next one, which he hopes will take place in the spring.
Competitors who are scheduled to fight: Jake Reeves (heavyweight), Sugi Fox (heavyweight), Shannon Miller (light heavyweight), Billy Cunningham (light heavyweight), Charles Harris (middleweight), Carlos Dumas (middleweight), and Anthony Walker (middleweight). Gates said there will be other fighters on the card from the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, area, but he said he won't know their names until today's weigh-in.
Gates, a 2004 graduate of Heritage Academy, was an all-area and all-conference pick on the team that was state runner-up in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), which known at the time as the Mississippi Private School Association (MPSA). He went on to play football for one season and to coach one season at East Mississippi Community College. He also played football at North Greenville University (S.C.) in 2006.
In 2007, Gates worked as an assistant coach at Heritage Academy before moving on to work as an assistant coach for the Mississippi Mudcats, of the American Indoor Football Association, and Immanuel High School.
In 2009, Gates had earned a spot in the Georgia Force's camp before the Arena League suspended the 2009 season.
Gates spent two years as football coach at Columbus Christian Academy in 2009-2011. He attended CCA, which was known at the time as Immanuel Christian School in 1999 and 2000, and worked as weightlifting instructor.
Gates also has trained as a kickboxer and professional boxer at Miller's Tae-Kwon-Do in Columbus and worked as a personal trainer.
With the work for his first fight card as a promoter nearly complete, Gates said he is raring to go and hopes the people of the Golden Triangle will come out to support their local athletes.
"It feels great. I'm excited," Gates said. "I loved playing football, being a football coach. I love boxing, too, and I am looking forward to having boxing in the next chapter in my life."
For tickets and more information, call 662-364-3443 or 662-251-1018.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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