Theodore's World: Bombed-out Building Has New Mission ~“Hell Raiser’s Hideout”

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May 11, 2007

Bombed-out Building Has New Mission ~“Hell Raiser’s Hideout”

Pvt. Richard Gray (left) of Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, Pfc. David Flores of Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, prepare to square off during the “Black Jack Boxing Fight Night Tournament” May 5, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Robert Yde.

Bombed-out building has new mission
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs


In the movie, Field of Dreams, it was the words, “If you build it, they will come,” that motivated a farmer to build a baseball field in an Iowa corn field.

As Spc. Timothy Dunbar, of Lowell, Mass., looked out onto a bombed-out floor of the former Ba’ath Party Headquarters, just outside his bedroom window, those similar words rang through his head.

Just days before christening a boxing ring that’ll be used for the first-ever, “Black Jack Fight Night,” Dunbar and a few other soldiers put some finishing touches on a boxing ring they built for the tournament.

They dubbed the location, “Hell Raiser’s Hideout,” and during the upcoming boxing smoker, soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment and 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, both units with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, will square off in the ring.

“Several months ago, the battalion commander and I talked about hosting a boxing smoker,” said Miami native Command Sgt. Maj. Calvin Morman, 3-82nd FA’s top noncommissioned officer. “After our conversation, my response was, ‘Roger Sir, I got it.’ Because of the (operational tempo) of the battalion’s mission and the troop surge, time passed. Out of the blue, the brigade asked us to host a boxing smoker with one of our sister battalions, 4-9 Cav.”

According to Dunbar, Morman asked him to do some research on boxing ring dimensions. He went online to find out what the dimension should be and put it on paper. Later, he offered up his services in building the ring.

“Originally, it was just going to be some wood and rope,” he said. “From there, we got a great welder and started putting it together in little pieces. From that, we just kept adding and adding details … even the lights above.”

Dunbar and his roommate, Pfc. Justin Netherland, of Hamburg, Miss., both have backgrounds in boxing. They used to train and fight in the “Golden Gloves” amateur level during their youth. Two other Pfcs., Timothy Iuchs, of Sedalia, Mo. and Jared Decker of Oskaloosa, Kan., never boxed in their life, but said they wanted to help out.

“We just wanted to make it as real as possible against the environment around us,” said Dunbar, who pointed at the war-damaged building that surrounds the ring. “I mean, it’s just like home, but with the feel of Baghdad all around us.”
Morman, along with others from 3-82nd, who have seen the ring transform from just raw materials said it is as close to the real thing as humanly possible. “I think it would be very similar to a real fight-night except for the location,” Morman said.
“You won’t see a fight night like ours. The location for this event is a run down foyer in the middle of the former Ba’ath party headquarters. Its rugged appearance adds something more than any fight televised. Not even ‘Rocky’ had this type of setting.”

According to Dunbar, during this project, everyone came by the “Hell Raiser’s Hideout” to lend a hand. Welders, such as Sgt. John Klempnow of Bay City, Mich., helped fabricate the corner posts. Staff Sgt. James Martin, of Bowling Green, Mich., helped by constructing the flooring.

Martin, who has helped build houses in the past, said helping build the ring was interesting because he had never done it before. Dunbar added that much of the work started in the evening when they were done with their day’s mission requirements. In all, Dunbar said the ring took more than 300 man-hours to build.

“We’d come out here and work on it four or five hours a night,” he said. “Sometimes, we’d be out here until two in the morning working on this. Every step of the way, we asked, ‘How do we make it look like a professional ring?’” Dunbar said a local painter added the writing on the ring, turnbuckles and the skirt.

The team is anticipating people’s reaction as they enter the ‘Hell Raiser’s Hideout.’ Building the ring and organizing the event has been really great for Decker.

“It’s just fun to have something to work on and pass the time,” Decker said.
Decker, who is an avid baseball fan, used to head up a homerun derby in the hideout before they built the ring there. “This is nice, but I lost my baseball field,” he said.

Although building the ring was fun, it did come with its set of challenges, Dunbar said.

“The turn posts - it didn’t help that the ground was unleveled,” he recalled. Though they had a limited budget, Dunbar said they did it at a mere fraction of what it would cost to just purchase the materials and build a ring, even without labor costs.

Through all the minor setbacks, the team built the ring and threw in a little more for the spectators and fighters because they wanted to put on a good show, said Dunbar.

“I want people to feel like this is an old Tyson/Holyfield fight when you see all the lights lit up,” Dunbar said. “I used to box. Not all the guys had the ‘big game,’ but every boxer here will feel like a celebrity. Even if you are not a fan of boxing, you’ll like this.”

For Spc. Chris Thomas, who is a Military Transition Team member from Camden, N.J., the ring is “amazing.” Thomas, who has an amateur record of 3-0, has been using the ring the last few weeks to train up for his fight.

“The canvas – this material is good, and these guys put a lot of time into it,” he said. “It’s perfect; it’s like any other ring. It’s as real as it gets.”

Wild Thing's comment.......

I think this is great, I am just so proud of our guys. I would love it if some of our professional boxers would go there to visit the troops to thank them for all they do, you just know they would love that support too.

Posted by Wild Thing at May 11, 2007 12:55 AM


GIs can usually get done anything they want to. Ingenuity is part of service life.

Posted by: TomR at May 11, 2007 04:46 AM

I love it!
Make something down and out and turn it into something wonderful.
Americans are great at this.
We took an undiscovered country and made it beautiful.
Dang, we're the best and we're great!
We HAVE to remember that.

Posted by: Lynn at May 11, 2007 06:19 AM

Outstanding, those guys are awesome, now if they'd just challenge that old boxer from Searchlight Nevada, canvasback Harry Reid, to a boxing match there, I'd pay to watch the event on pay per view.

Posted by: Jack at May 11, 2007 12:58 PM

Tom they sure can, they are wonderful.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 11, 2007 11:35 PM

Lynn I agree, we will always be so proud of them. The heck with those they just don't get it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 11, 2007 11:36 PM

Jack, LMAO oh wow what fun that would be.

Posted by: Wild Thing at May 11, 2007 11:37 PM

Petraeus's Letter has ensured that America will lose this war. Therefore we might as well leave Iraq now.

Posted by: Sue at May 12, 2007 02:59 AM