The “sweet science” is a term that has existed for more than 200 years. It was coined in 1813 by a British sportswriter named Pierce Egan and he used it to describe what he believed to be the scientific strategies fighters used to defeat their opponents.
There is a tactical element to boxing, with each boxer anticipating what their opponent will want to do in the ring. A boxer not only goes into a fight with a game plan, but he also spends much of the fight figuring out his opponents.”
It’s a sport that attracted two local first responders, both of whom attended the 2022 edition of Guns & Hoses on April 9 in Evansville. The annual event pits police and firefighters against each other in a series of bouts raising money for charities and non-profit organizations across the three states. This year, veteran Dylan Basham and rookie Tyler Gunther represented their respective departments with successful forays into the ring.
For Basham, a member of the Madisonville Fire Department, it was his sixth Guns & Hoses entry. Before boxing, he ventured into mixed martial arts (MMA), which most people are familiar with through the UFC and other smaller organizations.
“I had two cage fights before I joined the fire department,” said Basham, a former Madisonville-North Hopkins basketball player. “When I got to the fire department, Guns & Hoses introduced themselves and I focused on boxing.”
Basham was 2-0 in MMA fights and is 4-3 in boxing. All three losses were by decision.
On the basketball court, the MFD member was quite successful and earned himself a chance to play for Bethel University in Tennessee. But his interest shifted and he was drawn to MMA.
“I enjoyed watching boxing and MMA more than basketball,” Basham said. “So I started cross training in the last couple of years. When I stopped playing basketball in 2012, it was an easy transition. My first MMA fight was in March 2013.”
Gunther came cold while boxing. Before his first training session last year, he had never been involved in anything. He’d grown up fighting, so becoming a cop with the Madisonville Police Department was a natural attraction.
“I’ve always wanted to try it,” he says. “I wanted to compete in some form or fashion.”
He began training in November last year, working with trainers and fighters who have been involved with Guns & Hoses for several years.
“A lot of sparring, a lot of pad work and a lot of running,” explained Gunther. “Lots of different exercises.”
He admits he didn’t know what to expect when he first stepped into the ring, but it didn’t take long for him to realize why he decided to start.
“It was great,” Gunther said. “Once I started getting into the flow of things and the sparring and camaraderie with the people you spar with, it’s a great feeling.”
Guns & Hoses bases its matches on the overall height and experience of the fighters rather than weight classes, Gunther explained. His opponent, Michael Goldman of the Evansville Fire Department, had fought only once prior to the April 9 bout.
“It was almost like a movie,” he said. “The lights are on you and you can’t hear the crowd because you’re concentrating on the guy across from you.”
Basham feuded with Scott Township EMS’ Ryan Conaway, nicknamed “The Tank,” and won by unanimous decision. Gunther won with a second-round technical KO.
Both plan to return to the ring for the 2023 ticket. While they say the training and fights are physically rewarding, they seem more driven by the benefits to others.
Guns & Hoses is organized by an organization called 911 Gives Hope. The group has raised more than $2 million over the past 14 years, and every penny goes to charities across the three states that work with or for children. Some of the beneficiaries included Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Autism Walk, Shop With A Sheriff, and Madisonville Santa/Axe of Kindness.
“There are a lot of kids who are benefiting from the donations,” Gunther said. “It helps a lot of people”
Basham was involved in half of the events and believes the funds raised helped transform lives.
“It’s a great thing,” he said. “This organization does a lot of good in the border triangle.”
For those who did not have a chance to see the fights in person, they are all collected on 1280 WGBF’s website at www.newstalk1280.com.