Rumble in the Park

July 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The normally calm and peaceful Woodward Park is about to be the scene of a violent encounter.Cage fighting combines boxing, kick boxing, wrestling and martial arts into one sport. Contenders often square off inside a cage, or a boxing ring. It's entertaining, and a regular feature at Indian casinos. The move to Woodward Park, with an event called "Rumble in the Park," is a first.

Like a boxing match, a cage fight, or mixed martial arts contest pits two men, or women, against each other in what can be a real brawl. "It's basically like a bare-knuckle fight, you know, and you can grab, you can clinch, you can toss, you can throw the guy, do whatever you want," said Mixed Martial Arts trainer Kru Jasper Tayaba.

Tayaba is a long time cage fighter, who now teaches mixed martial arts techniques to professional fighters, and folks who just want to get in shape, at a north Fresno gym. Despite the violence, mixed martial arts contests are increasingly popular, that's why the City of Fresno is eager to bring them to the Rotary Amphitheatre in Woodward Park. "I think the public will accept it and the event will probably be sold out," said Randall Cooper, Fresno Parks Director, "Some people might not feel it's appropriate; people beating each other up in the park. It's still a public park they have boxing matches all over the country in parks and this is just another action sport that's full contact."

Park visitors we spoke with seemed surprised an event like that would be held here. "Well I know they are trying to get diversity here as far as entertainment in the park and I guess that's about as diversified as you can go, from Shakespeare to martial arts, whether it's wrong, who am I to say that? But it's definitely different," said park visitor Al Cito.

Laura Shaw says she just heard the contest advertised on the radio.

"What did you think when you hear that advertised?"

Shaw: "That it was different for Woodward Park, it wasn't really something I would think they would have out here... but, I don't think it would be that bad of an idea."

Professional fighter Billy Evangelista thinks it's a good idea. "I think, you know, spending some time or quality time with your kids there."

Evangelista has been boxing since he was a kid and wrestled at Parlier High. He thinks a mixed martial arts contest is no different from taking the family to a boxing, or wrestling match.

Evangelista takes part in the "Wargods" contest at the Fresno Convention Center in less than two weeks. The Rumble in the Park, cage fight is set for the amphitheatre at Woodward Park in late August.


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