After a minute in the practice ring with a boxer half his age, 60-year-old Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Randall Cheek admits, he’s a little winded.
A few minutes later, after a couple practice rounds of his own, Cheek’s son, Jesse Cheek, 31, a corrections officer with the sheriff’s office, steps out of the ring. There’s blood on his T-shirt, and he’s dripping with sweat.
“You can’t go in and take a beating — and know you’re going to take one — without having passion for this,” the elder Cheek said. “One minute doesn’t sound like much, and then it’s an eternity if you get tired.”
Neither of the men are longtime boxers, but they’ve taken it up recently for a good cause.
On Saturday, the father-son duo will be among no fewer than six Douglas County Sheriff’s Office employees on the bill to fight under the spotlights at this year’s Kansas City Guns N’ Hoses charity boxing event.
Six is by far the most boxers from any organization participating in the event, which pits area law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics against one another.
The annual event, featuring 12 bouts and 24 boxers, raises money for a fund that helps the families of area first responders killed in the line of duty.
Randall Cheek fought last year at Guns N’ Hoses, the only one from the sheriff’s office.
This year, the self-described “old man” is bringing reinforcements.
“What I try to do is inspire all these young people to get involved,” Cheek said.
In addition to his son Jesse, another one of those “young people” is Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer Danielle Dunn, 23.
She’s one of just four women slated to fight at the event.
Dunn said she’s boxed for fitness for a couple years and attended last year’s Guns N’ Hoses event as a spectator.
Deciding to get in the ring took some “guts,” she said, but once she told her sergeant she was going to do it, there was no going back.
“When I say something, I stick to my word, and I did it,” Dunn said.
Dunn said contact fighting has been fun, and the training has made her more physically and mentally fit. She’s applied for a deputy position with the sheriff’s office and also recently joined the office’s disturbance control team at the jail — for which being physically fit is important.
Being a woman in law enforcement can be hard, Dunn said. “You get told ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you’re not a man.’”
However, she said, in her work and in her training for Guns N’ Hoses, her department is “extremely supportive.”
“My department in general isn’t like that, we’re all a big family,” she said. “All the way down to the captain on patrol ... I’ve felt like my entire department is 100 percent behind me.”
Randall and Jesse Cheek were working out Thursday in the basement of the Summit at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, where they’ve been training hard for several months.
Jesse Cheek said he was inspired by how hard his dad worked and competed last year, and now appreciates it even more.
“I didn’t realize how tough a sport it is until I started boxing,” he said.
Randall Cheek said — and his son and Dunn agreed — they’re driven to fight in the event because, win or lose, it’s for a good cause.
Plus, being physically fit and knowing you can take a punch if you have to can only help in law enforcement, Cheek said.
“A lot of people have never even been hit in their life, even in law enforcement,” Cheek said.
“If nothing else, it builds up your confidence and it builds up your stamina.”
The Cheeks’ boxing coach, Daniel Barajas, said his law enforcement students showed up with the right attitude and pre-established ability to deal with pressure in a certain way.
“The mental fortitude it takes to put yourself in there with somebody else who wants to punch you in the face ... that takes a special kind of person,” Barajas said.
Six of the 24 boxers — including one of only four women — that made the cut to fight at this year’s Kansas City Guns N’ Hoses charity boxing event are from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
They are, along with title and years with the sheriff’s office:
• Lt. Randall Cheek, 14 years
• Corrections Officer Jesse Cheek, eight years
• Deputy Mark Mehrer, six years
• Corrections Officer David Pierce, two years
• Deputy Rich Qualls, one year
• Corrections Officer Danielle Dunn, one year
Source: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
If you go
The Kansas City Guns N’ Hoses charity boxing event pits first-responders from the Kansas City metro and surrounding area against each other in the ring.
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom, 301 W. 13th St. in Kansas City, Mo. The first of 12 bouts will begin at 7 p.m.
To buy tickets, go online to kansascitygunsnhoses.com or call 816-960-6800. General admission is $25.
The event benefits Kansas City Crime Commission’s Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, or “S.A.F.E.”
The fund provides immediate financial assistance as well as burial and legal services to the families of fallen first responders in nine area counties, including Douglas. Organizers say there have been more than 20 killed on duty from the S.A.F.E. area since 2003.
S.A.F.E. also funds educational scholarships for dependents of qualified full time Public Safety Officers employed within the S.A.F.E. geographic area.