Barry Farms Dwellings court has long been known as the home of the George C. Goodman League, one of the hottest summer basketball leagues in the country. But the legendary Southeast D.C. playground recently made history as host to another great sport.
“Da Farms’” neighborhood basketball court was transformed into a boxing arena as the Woodland Tigers Sports and Learning Complex teamed up with Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls to present the Friday Night Boxing “Inside da Gates” on July 26. It was the first time in recent history that an outdoor boxing event was held in D.C., and after a successful night, there’s a strong chance that it won’t be the last.
More than 2,000 people crowded into what Rawls has affectionately nicknamed “the BF Coliseum” to watch 15 different bouts featuring amateur boxers from D.C. and Maryland, ranging from 8-year-old youths to 22-year-old adults.
Those in attendance didn’t hesitate to post pictures and comments about the fights on their social media accounts. One attendee in particular said Barry Farms had turned into the Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Arena for the evening.
“It was a gorgeous event,” said legendary boxing trainer Ham Johnson, father of Hall of Fame boxer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson. Ham, recognized as one of the greatest trainers in boxing history, now trains youths for Woodland’s boxing program. He told the AFRO he was glad to be a part of the historic event.
“It’s never been an outdoor boxing event of that magnitude in D.C.,” Ham said. “With that many people in one place to watch boxing, with no crimes, no nonsense, and for free. I’ve won national titles and world championships and I can honestly say being apart of this felt just as good. And I owe it to the fans that came out, the fighters and coaches for doing a great job, and most importantly, we owe it to Ricky Womack.”
Womack, who serves as the secretary of the Potomac Valley Boxing Association, was the lead organizer of the event. He told the AFRO that it all came from an epiphany he had while attending one of the Goodman League basketball games this summer.
“I’m what you call a ‘season ticket holder’ for the Goodman League games; I’m there every day, every summer,” said Womack, explaining that during one of those games, he had a vision of seeing the District’s fighters in a boxing ring in the middle of the court as the crowd cheered them on.
“So I took the idea to Miles [Rawls] and Miles, being such the cool guy he is, didn’t hesitate. He said ‘pick any Friday you want, we’ll call it Boxing Night ‘Inside da Gates.’ But wow, man, I never imagined that so many people would come. It was amazing.”
Womack said Miles also served as the announcer/live commentator of the fights, entertaining the crowd with his signature sense of humor that’s he’s been known for during the basketball games. They even had a “hee-haw” dance contest in between fights.
“It was a real live ‘Southeast event,’” he said, “and the people love it.”
Womack told the AFRO he met a few challenges trying to turn the dream into reality, but with the support of so many key figures, they were able to pull it off.
“I can’t take too much credit because we couldn’t have done it without Candy Jacobs, Steve Zanders, Chief Diane Grooms, and all of the support from the Potomac Valley Boxing Association, the D.C. Boxing Commission and all the coaches and trainers that participated in making this special event happen,” he said, adding that D.C. Boxing Commission provided the ring and Potomac Valley Boxing Association provided the referee and judges for the fight.
“The support was incredible. Candy Jacobs is the daughter of Dave Jacobs, the lifetime trainer of Sugar Ray Leonard, and she really rallied for us when a lot of people doubted that we should have the fight night,” Womack said.
“[Pro boxer] Dusty Harrison even came out and handed out some awards, and another really amazing thing was how legendary Baltimore boxing trainer Calvin Ford even brought a team from Baltimore out to the event,” he said. “Calvin had just had a death in his family, so for him to still come out and show his love was just an amazing thing I will never forget.”
Womack said he has an upcoming meeting scheduled with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, at which he will propose bringing back Friday Fight Night “Inside da Gates” at least six times a year.
Friday Night Fight Results:
KEITH COOKE (No Excuse) over Leon Jones (Over Comers)
KEITH BAGWELL (Charm City) over Dennis Ziegler (Over Comers)
JORDAN HUNTER (Keystone) over Marquise Balloon (Rosedale)
JORDAN JONES (Over Comers) over Kevon Cooke (No Excuse)
JALEN JONES (Lime Lite) over Corey Snowden (No Excuse)
ALONZO THOMPSON (Cherry Lane) over Tyreek Irby (Head Bangers)
HAKEEM MIDDLETON (Lime Lite) over Rico Todd (Upton)
CHARLES MATTISON (Rosedale) over Maleek Lofton (Old School)
MONYEE GREGORY (Upton) over Leroy Payne (Head Bangers)
GEORGE McRAY (Woodland Tigers) over Chamar Flowers (Head Bangers)
DAJUAN CONCEPCION (Un Attached) over Greg Blakney (Old School)
RAYVON DRAYTON (Un Attached) over Steven Epps (Woodland Tigers)
TRAYVONTE SPEED-RAWLS (No Excuse) over Kieron Hooks (Attack Mode)
MYKAL FOX (Un Attached) over Dionte Burts (Woodland Tigers)
GARY ANTWON RUSSELL (Enigma) over Jalonte Cole (No Excuse)