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Punchers & Painters opens with a knockout night

Punchers & Painters opens with a knockout night by Tom Archdeacon for Dayton Daily News

Punchers & Painters – the annual multi-week, multi-event embrace of boxing and art in downtown Dayton – kicked off Saturday night with a well-attended, enthusiastic“Celebration of Davey Moore” at the Color of Energy Gallery in the Oregon District.

One of the most legendary athletes ever to come out of the Miami Valley, Moore was a flashy Springfield boxer who represented the United States at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, won the world featherweight crown as a pro and toured the globe before he died from injuries suffered in a title defense with Sugar Ramos at brand new Dodger Stadium in 1963. He was just 29 when he passed.

Davey Moore bigger than life image at Punchers & Painters exhibit at Color of Energy.

Saturday night’s reception – with food and drink were provided by the adjoining Sidebar – included everything from a presentation by Mike Major, the nationally-acclaimed Urbana sculptor who had made the 8-foot Moore statue that eventually (when final funds are raised) will be erected in Downtown Springfield to the weigh-in of several boxers who will show their fistic wares at this Saturday’s “Fight Night” – the free, outdoor boxing show in front of Drake’s Downtown Gym. The ring will be set up on E. Fourth Street between St. Clair and Patterson Blvd.

Moore’s wife Geraldine and three of their children – Denise, Rick and Samone – as well many family friends were at Saturday’s reception.

“The glow from the Moore family was just special,” said Color of Energy owner Mike Elsass, who co-promotes Punchers & Painters.

Sunday morning Moore’s daughter Denise agreed with him: “Last night was a beautiful event. I got pretty emotional at it and we all really appreciated it. This morning when we got up that’s the first thing we all talked about.”

Geraldine Moore was especially taken by the water-color portrait of her late husband done by Dayton Daily News artistGreg DeGroat,who has four works depicting Ohio champions – the others include heavyweight Buster Douglas, middleweight Kelly Pavlik and lightweight Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini – in the show.

Folks enjoying Saturday night’s “celebration of Davey Moore. “Greg DeGroat’s work is a must see as are the sculptures of Mike Major,” said Elsass of the exhibit that will be up until August 15.

Other Punchers & Painters events this year include:

 “Fight Night” at Drake’s Downtown Gym, Saturday July 16. The first of the night’s10 to 12 amateur bouts begins at 7:30 p.m.. The sanctioned show will include fighters from Drake’s, Donnie Branch’s stable at the Prodigy Gym in Springboro, Milt Pearson’s Prime Performance gym in Trotwood, as well as Columbus, Indiana and Michigan.

Artists will be painting at ringside and Major’s eight-foot Moore statue will be on display. While Drake has sold out the 16 ringside tables he has for the show, all general admission viewing is free and open on a first-come, first-serve basis. Donations will be taken to help finance the Moore project whose last phase of funding has stalled recently.

 “An Evening With Buster Douglas,”7 to 9 p.m. Friday July 22 at Color of Energy. The former heavyweight champ – and onetime Sinclair Community College basketball player – was a 42-1 underdog when he fought then-unbeaten Mike Tyson 20 years ago in Tokyo. He managed to pull off one of the biggest upsets in sports history when he battered Tyson and then knocked him out.

— “An Appreciation of Chris Pearson”– The Trotwood middleweight is one of the favorites to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. He will compete for the berth at the U.S. Boxing Team Trials in late July in Mobile, Alabama and will be honored at Color of Energy in early August.

— Dayton Dragons’ Fight Show will feature top notch amateurs in an outdoor ring set up Aug. 12 near home plate at Fifth Third Field. The Dragons are expected to announce their card this week.

“Punchers & Painters has become a series of events that have exceeded my dreams,” said Elsass. “It’s just a fun event that’s good for the town.”