Frontiersman sports editor
WASILLA - A few months ago, Tom Worden and his son Tommy had an idea.
As the Worden's were standing inside of the building that houses their business, the Mat-Su Valley Bingo and Pulltabs, the pair thought the facility, which normally features bouts of bingo, would be an excellent venue for boxing.
So Worden called Bob Haag, a longtime boxing promoter in the state and old friend he has known since the ninth- grade. Haag and the Wordens have since set up a Tuesday Night Fights in the Valley, an event patterned after the Thursday Night Fights held at the Egan Center in Anchorage.
The first of the weekly boxing sessions is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Parks Annex, located at 715 W. Parks Highway in Wasilla. Doors open at 6 p.m. for general admission, and the boxing starts at 7:30 p.m.
A boxing fan of more than 50 years, Haag's involvement with the sport in the state dates back to the 1970s. Haag started coaching his kids, and led an amateur boxing team to a state championship. In the 1980s, Haag started promoting Roughhouse Boxing in Anchorage, and organized regular events at bars such as Gussie Lamore's, The Pines Club and Midnight Express. He's taken boxing shows to Kenai and Sitka, and an Alaska boxing squad to Russia in 1992. For the last six years, Haag has hosted a monthly event in Juneau. Now he is bringing boxing to the Valley.
"I've always wanted to bring boxing to the Valley," Haag said. "I struck a deal, and everything has fallen into place."
Judging by the amount of people from the Valley who regularly attend the Thursday Night Fights in Anchorage, Worden said, there could be success for a boxing venue in the Valley.
"It's amazing how many people drive in to Anchorage to go to the fights," Worden said. "And half the fighters in Anchorage are from the Valley."
Each boxing session includes seven fights per night. Most of the amateur fights separated into four one-minute rounds. The main events have two-minute rounds. The goal is to have as many local fighters compete in the Tuesday night series, Worden said. But at least one main event is featured each Tuesday. Tonight the featured match is Jamie Lee Mie, of Fairbanks, against Johnny "The Cobra" Totton, of Anchorage. Worden said this is a perfect match to get the Valley excited about the weekly boxing events.
"They are two of the toughest lightweights in the state," Worden said. "People have been talking about this little match for years."
Worden said The Annex has a capacity of about 450 fighting fans. There are general admission seats, ringside tables and a penthouse. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $30 for ringside tables and penthouse seating and $60 for platinum ringside seats.
Each event is also catered by the Glacier Canyon Grill, the restaurant inside Grand View Inn, and fans must be 21-years or older to enter.