NewsThe West

OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Wyoming sees 1st sanctioned bare-knuckle bouts in more than a century

Author: Associated Press - June 15, 2018 - Updated: June 28, 2018

Reggie Barnett, left, fights Travis Thompson in the 135-pound super fight during the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The night was promoted as the first sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting in more than a century. (Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP)Reggie Barnett, left, fights Travis Thompson in the 135-pound super fight during the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The night was promoted as the first sanctioned bare-knuckle fighting in more than a century. (Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP)


Bare-knuckle fights wow Wyoming crowd

CHEYENNE – A capacity crowd stood and roared its approval as Tony Lopez and Joey Beltran wearily wailed away on each other last week at Cheyenne Ice and Events Center.

In the ninth fight of the first sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing card since 1889, Lopez and Beltran delivered the kind of bout the blood-thirsty crowd expected.

Beltran walked away with a unanimous decision, a broken right hand and two sets of stitches running vertically between his eyebrows.

“I wanted to be part of something new and something historic,” Beltran said. “This was that.”

“Plus, this is right in my wheelhouse. I can strike, clench and box without worrying about getting taken down or kicked,” Beltran said. “This is perfect for me.”

The 36-year-old from San Diego had fought Lopez in two mixed-martial arts events and expected a battle.

“I respect Tony Lopez like crazy,” Beltran said. “He is like Batman to my Joker. We need each other, and we bring out the best in each other.

“The response was overwhelming,” said Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships promoter David Feldman. “It was unbelievable. It was the fight of the night.”

Only three of the 10 fights on the card went the distance. The others were stopped by the referees or doctors because it was unsafe for them to continue.

Sam Shewmaker from Gravois Mills, Missouri, delivered the quickest fight of the night when he ducked a punch and delivered an overhand right to the jaw of Eric Prindle of Prescott, Arizona. The bout lasted 18 seconds.

“This is a new era in combat sports, it’s exciting,” said Shewmaker, who works for a company that makes metal pole barn kits. “… I have always been an athlete and involved in competition. I haven’t had any competition in a long time.

“I am 33 years old. I can’t play baseball no more and I can’t play football. I decided I would give this a shot.”

The parking lot overflowed nearly an hour before the first bout was scheduled to start. The line of people with tickets wrapped around the Ice and Events Center’s miniature golf course and dwarfed the line of people buying tickets at the venue.

Feldman expects to bring another bare-knuckle card to Wyoming, but he hopes the Cheyenne event opens the door with commissions in other states.

“This isn’t the death match some people thought they were going to see,” Feldman said. “It was a great, entertaining night of fights.”

New Mexico

Republican Gov. Martinez attacks GOP nominee for Congress

ALBUQUERQUE — Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says the GOP candidate in a closely watched Congressional race in southern New Mexico may not fairly represent the state.

Martinez told the Albuquerque Journal Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican who won the GOP nomination in the 2nd Congressional District, faces questions “with reference to her ability to . represent New Mexico in a fair and reasonable way.”

She made the remarks after testifying on oil and gas leasing in a U.S. House committee in Washington, D.C.

Herrell beat former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman in a heated GOP primary. Jay McCleskey — a longtime ally of Martinez’s — did media consulting work for Newman’s campaign. Herrell faces Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres Small in the general election.

A Herrell spokesman declined to comment.


Kansas to use ‘Rep’ to distinguish candidates with same name

TOPEKA, Kansas — Activists in both parties strongly suspect that political skullduggery led to two Kansas candidates with the same first and last name running against each other in a congressional primary, but a state board this week faced its own challenge: How should ballots differentiate between the two Wichita men?

Republican voters in the 4th District in the Wichita area are now set to choose Aug. 7 between Rep. Ron Estes , the incumbent, and Ron M. Estes , the challenger. The Kansas secretary of state’s office devised the listing after Ron M. Estes filed to challenge the freshman congressman in the GOP primary. A Democratic candidate objected, arguing that the plan to list the incumbent with “Rep.” gave him an unfair advantage.

But the all-GOP, three-member State Objections Board led by Secretary of State Kris Kobach concluded that using middle initials to distinguish the candidates on the primary ballot still might prove too confusing for voters.

Democratic candidate Laura Lombard, who filed the objection, surmised that confusing voters was the point for the challenger or others backing him. So did Rep. Ron Estes’ chief of staff, Josh Bell.

“I definitely do think someone put him up to it,” Lombard told reporters after the board’s decision, saying the Estes vs. Estes race has become a “circus.”

Rep. Ron Estes, a former two-term state treasurer, won a tougher-than-expected election last year for the seat formerly held by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Meanwhile, Ron M. Estes said in an email that he’s worked for aircraft manufacturer Boeing for 40 years.

Both men are 61.

A Kansas election law generally prohibits listing a candidate’s name with a title. But the statute makes an exception for using “a prefix or suffix when necessary to distinguish one candidate from another.”

“I think that’s the best we can hope for with this impostor candidate filing to run,” said Bell, the incumbent’s chief of staff.


Navajo presidential race draws crowded field of candidates

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — The race to become president on the country’s largest American Indian reservation has drawn a record number of candidates with 19 filing for the office.

The field includes tribal President Russell Begaye, Vice President Jonathan Nez, three women, and others who have previously held or sought the tribe’s top two elected positions.

The number is up from 17 four years ago, when a tumultuous election season was extended by nearly five months because of a heated court fight over a candidate’s ability to speak fluent Navajo. That qualification loosely remains because it will be up to voters to decide whether that matters to them.

Candidates regularly promise to improve the tribe’s economy, increase government transparency, secure water rights and deliver basic services. A new challenge will be dealing with declining revenue as roughly one-third of the tribe’s budget is at stake if a coal-fired power plant on the reservation shuts down as planned next year.

One candidate is pushing hemp farms, another wants to build on efforts to designate the tribe as a Medicaid provider, some want to revisit the tribe’s ban on gay marriage, and others are promoting accountability and vowing to combat nepotism.

The top two vote-getters in the August primary choose their own running mates and face off in the Nov. 6 general election.

South Dakota

South Dakota sheriff loses re-election, fires winning deputy

TYNDALL, Sout Dakota — A South Dakota sheriff waited a whole minute after polls closed to fire a deputy who undid his re-election bid last week.

Bon Homme County Sheriff Lenny Gramkow fired deputy sheriff Mark Maggs after Maggs defeated him by a vote of 878-331 in the Republican primary election. Maggs posted his time-stamped termination notice signed by Gramkow on Facebook after polls closed.

“As of this moment you are no longer an employee of Bon Homme County,” Gramkow wrote. He didn’t give a reason for the firing. South Dakota is an employment-at-will state where employees can be fired without cause, with exceptions. The state’s sheriffs also have the authority to hire and fire personnel.

Gramkow declined to comment about the firing.

No other candidates filed for the race, meaning that Maggs will assume office in January. But for now, the father of four is out of work. He planned to meet with the county commission on Thursday.

“I trust our county commissioners heard your voices (Tuesday) night through the election results, and I also trust that they will stand with my family and I (in) the way you all have and ensure that my family will not be left hanging without an income or insurance,” Maggs said.

Associated Press

Associated Press