Phoenix Police Officer Critical After Charity Boxing Match

By Ray Stern

Phoenix Police Officer Barry Scott [pictured] was "fighting for his life" Monday after an unsanctioned boxing event on Friday night at Fort McDowell Casino, police say.

Sergeant Andy Hill, spokesman for Phoenix police, says it was a "tragic twist of fate" that Scott was injured while competing in an event designed to raise money for the 100 Club, which raises money for the families of officers injured or killed in the line of duty. Scott was off-duty during the boxing event.

The "Guns N Hoses" event, put on by Felko Promotions , pitted cops versus firefighters. Boxers wore 16-ounce gloves and battled each other in three one-minute rounds. Like other boxers, Scott apparently signed a waiver before the competition, McGill says.

Tom McGill, marketing director for Fort McDowell, says he heard that Scott went down in the middle of the third round of his fight but had "no visible injuries."

Hill says Scott was taken to a hospital but remains in critical condition. The police spokesman described Scott as a 22-year-old Iraq war veteran with a wife and infant child. Scott joined the force in May of 2007.

The event wasn't -- and did not need to be -- sanctioned by USA Boxing, the group that oversees most amateur boxing events in the state, says Michael Sanchez, president of the group's Arizona chapter. However, Sanchez added that he considers Guns N Hoses to be "Toughman" fighting that can carry more risk for boxers than typical amateur events.

True Toughman boxing matches, which usually involve people with no boxing experience paired with an experienced amateur, have led to several deaths in the last few years. Some states have banned them.

Sanchez says deaths and injuries in amateur boxing, overall, are rare. Still, "Hey, you’re taking a risk -- it’s not volleyball."

Part of the problem, Sanchez says, is that the one-minute rounds encourage an "all-offense" strategy by the boxers that encourages throwing more punches and less defense.

Hill says he doesn't know whether any kind of investigation will be launched following the incident.

Maybe Scott had some kind of pre-existing condition that made him more susceptible to a hard punch. If not, authorities will probably want to look more closely at these type of events to make sure the best safety practices are being followed.

UPDATE: Scott Dies of Injuries

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern