Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Nov. 3 newspaper on Page A1.
In this corner, a fighter for people of all abilities and the superintendent of the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities — The Beacon Bomber.
In the other corner, a pawpaw king and elected official who has served as Athens County Commissioner since 2013 — The Bludgeoner of Blight.
These two celebrity fighters will go head-to-head in Sam Jones’ legendary boxing ring on Sunday, Nov. 10, all in support of the Trimble Local School District.
The boxers are better known as Beacon School Supt. Kevin Davis and County Commissioner Chris Chmiel.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, they are not. But the two hope their participation will help better the community.
Their match be the featured event at this year’s Boxing for Books fundraiser, set to begin at 4 p.m. in the Trimble Elementary School Gym.
Since 1975, Sam Jones has hauled his boxing ring to the school and used the event to raise money for the students of Trimble. This fundraiser has generated tens of thousands of dollars in support of the district, and specifically the Trimble Textbook and Supplies Foundation. A few celebrity boxers have turned up in Trimble Twp. over the years, such as Buster Douglas.
Chmiel works with Jones on projects for the Athens County Land Bank, adding that the boxing legend helped to start the Land Bank through his promotion of cleaning up Glouster and Jacksonville’s images.
Chmiel said that was his first motivator: helping defeat blight.
“My ring name is the Bludgeoner of Blight,” he said, “because I had to come up with something that addresses my connection with the Land Bank.”
But he had other motivations for accepting Jones’ challenge.
“You know, the legendary Sam Jones,” Chmiel mused. “I wanted to experience some of that magic. His gym has to be one of the coolest places in Athens County.”
Chmiel initially sought out Morgan County Commissioner Adam Shriver as his opponent in the match, as he is about the same age and weight as Chmiel. Part of Trimble Township is in Morgan County, Chmiel reasoned, so it would be a good way to promote the event. However, it didn’t work out.
Soon after, Chmiel saw Davis at a local event.
“He was sizing me up, looking me up and down during open session of the commissioner’s meeting,” Davis remembered. “Then he asked me how old I was, and how much I weighed.”
The two quickly agreed to the fight.
Jones believes it will be an even match. The two have been regularly training at Sam’s Gym in Glouster since July, sparring once or twice per week. The amateur pugilists both expressed gratitude toward the more experienced boxers for their help this year.
Davis admitted the training has taken a toll on him, saying he is “not built for it.”
“I’m ready for it to be over,” he said, pointing out his bruised knuckles. He has plans to immediately retire from the sport after their match.
“It’s hard (to box), because I like Chris,” Davis added. “It might be easier if he was someone I didn’t like.”
The Beacon Bomber did get some helpful advice from Trimble Supt. John Hurd, who told him: “There’s nowhere to hide in a boxing ring.”
“He’s right about that,” Davis said.
Still, none of this is stopping him from throwing some trash talk around.
“I’m going to knock the goat cheese out of him,” Davis predicted with a smile.
Chmiel has been equally cordial, but just as confident.
“Trimble has a proud history of brick making,” Chmiel wrote in a social media post promoting the fight. “I’m going to be pounding on (Davis’s) nose like a Trimble brick. See you in the ring on November 10th.”