Friday, October 24, 2008
my awesome brother
Firefighter going in the ring for others
By JOANN LIVINGSTON
Daily Light Managing Editor
Published: Sunday, October 5, 2008 2:33 PM CDT
When the annual Guns and Hoses benefit boxing tournament comes around, Jacob Cooper will be one of two firefighters representing Waxahachie Fire Department.
The annual event’s card showcases firefighters boxing against law enforcement, with the money raised going toward a fund that assists the families of fallen public servants.
Cooper was one of about 28 selected from more than 140 who applied to participate in this year’s event, set for Nov. 8 at Resistol Arena in Mesquite.
Signups are in late spring, with an evaluation held in August to determine who will participate and who will be matched against whom.
Last year’s event, the sixth annual tournament, saw more than 6,000 people in attendance.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Now, I’ll get to say I did it,” said Cooper, a four-year Navy veteran who joined the Waxahachie department about seven months ago. A member of A shift, he’ll be joined in the tournament by C shift member Scott Safford.
“We encouraged Jacob to do it. It’s a great benefit to participate in,” said Waxahachie-based trainer Daniel Ortiz, who the past several years has worked with several police officers – Jeff Askin of Grand Prairie Police Department, George Williams of Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and Larry Wise of Cedar Hill Police Department. Those officers weren’t boxing this year, so Ortiz has taken on Cooper’s training regimen.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” Ortiz said, noting that Cooper began working out the first of July with a goal of peaking for the tournament.
As the weeks have progressed, the training has become more intense.
“He’s in good shape – he’s a firefighter – but he has to get into boxing shape,” Ortiz said, noting the workouts include both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, all focused toward enabling Cooper to do his best during his match.
The workouts, which can last up to 1 1/2 hours, include sprints, jogging, biometric work, shadow boxing, speed bags and hitting bags, resistance band work, focus mitts and sparring.
“This is a lot harder,” Cooper said of the conditioning as compared to the physical rigors of firefighting. “It’s at a different level.”
Each fight is set up for three, one-minute rounds, with the participants wearing headgear and 20-ounce gloves.
“They’re very careful with the fighters and match them up based on size and experience,” Ortiz said, noting, however, it is serious boxing and some participants in the past have suffered knockouts and broken noses, ribs or hands.
“I want Jacob to be confident, not overconfident, when he goes into the ring,” Ortiz said. “Your worst enemy is to be overconfident. I want him to be on his toes and moving and throwing at the same time. What ultimately matters is what’s in his heart and head.”
The benefit is heavily supported because of the good cause it funds.
“Everyone is 100 percent behind it,” Ortiz said.
There’s an odd number of matches on the card and either the firefighters or law enforcement side will be declared the overall winner at the end of the evening.
“The series is tied at three each,” Cooper said of the six years so far. “This year, we plan on winning.”
“They’re all heroes, although one side may think it’s a bigger hero than the other,” Ortiz said with a smile about the traditional rivalry between the two public service entities. “There’s a lot of friendly jibing back and forth in the weeks leading up to the week, but, that night, they’re not talking much. They’re all serious about wanting to win.
“It’s a big honor to coach these guys – police officers or firefighters,” Ortiz said. “It’s a big compliment to be asked to help these guys out.”
It’ll be Cooper’s first boxing match in a ring. Although he boxed a little on ship while in the Navy, this will be his first boxing match in a ring before a crowd, which he said will include his family, friends and fellow A shift members.
Fire Chief David Hudgins has given his blessing, as well, Cooper said of the support he’s received.
“I plan on doing my share to win the trophy for the firefighters’ side,” he said.
For sponsorship information and tickets on the boxing event, visit online at gunsandhosesboxing.com.