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Rounds of fury


Elijah McCall fights for his family name at upcoming Prairie Meadows event.

Elijah McCall fights for his family name at upcoming Prairie Meadows event.

Some say boxing is the last bastion of true athleticism. Others say it has evolved from entertainment in the ring to entertainment outside the ring. The likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. — with his Kanye West-esque swagger and Muhammad Ali’s athleticism — has turned this sport into a sort of business plan that has helped him compile a bank account that exceeds $100 million. Promotions and contracts aside, boxers from around the world enter the ring to test their strength and strategies in the world’s most dangerous game.

For the first time in nearly five years, the gladiator game of pugilism will be returning to Prairie Meadows to showcase some of the top contenders in male and female boxing.

“We have always offered fighters with name recognition,” said Gus Ramirez, entertainment coordinator for Prairie Meadows. “We are thrilled to acquire Elijah McCall, the son of former Heavyweight World Champion Oliver McCall, in addition to Olympic Bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk and female contenders Hollie Dunaway and rival Chantel Cordova.”

A total of eight bouts will be staged with the main event featuring 25-year-old Elijah McCall contending for the Global Boxing Union (GBU) Americas Heavyweight Championship — “a stepping-stone belt for the fighters working their way to a World Title,” according to Patrick Ortize, president of Ringside Tickets Inc.

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McCall grew up around the world of professional boxing, moving from his home in Chicago’s south suburbs to Virginia and back due to his boxing father, Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall. The elder McCall gained fame as one of the only heavyweight fighters to never be knocked down, the first person to knock down Mike Tyson and the first person to defeat Lennox Lewis. But after a meltdown in the ring — the man started crying and offered no defense when he would fight — the McCall name lost some of its tenacity.

Elijah McCall had his professional debut in 2008 and has since proven to be a formidable opponent (11-3-0) with 10 wins by knockout. With strength, drive and focus, McCall not only battles for the title but also to bring honor back to his family’s name.

The other half of the Main Event includes Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway (23-10-1, 10 KO). Dunaway is a world-class female professional boxer fighting out of St. Louis, Mo., where she was inducted into the St. Louis Boxing Hall of Fame. Having no amateur experience before her professional debut in 2003, Dunaway has said in interviews that she got into the sport after seeing female boxers training and thought it “looked like fun.” After a couple of quick losses early in her career, Dunaway turned things around, winning 13 of 14 fights. In November 2006, she beat champion Krisztina Belinszky (19-4-2) in Budapest, Hungary, for two world titles. In January 2008, she captured the NABF Flyweight Title by a unanimous decision over Sharon Gaines. She will be taking on Chantel “Gorgeous Babe” Cordova (10-4-1, 3 KO).

Olympic Bronze Medal winner (2012 London) Taras Shelestyuk from Ukraine will also be on hand. Prior to the Olympics, Shelestyuk was the 2011 Welterweight World Amateur Boxing Champion. Shelestyuk is also a three-time Ukrainian Champion. Even though he only has five professional bouts to his name (winner of all five), he boasts an impressive 195-15 amateur record.

Even with the changes boxing has seen, from improved safety measures and protective gear, the shortening of matches from 15 to 12, and the utilization of specialists such as nutritionists and strength coaches, the sport remains a combination of willpower, grit, determination and skill that defines the truly great.

“Boxing is a sport of athleticism, passion and perseverance,” said Ortiz. “Boxing offers excitement because the crowd gets a chance to be closer to the heart of the action than most other sporting events.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Where: The Bishop Ballroom of The Meadows Event and Conference Center.
When: Doors at 6 p.m., boxing at 7 p.m.
Price: $19 and up, available at the Prairie Meadows Gift Shop, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, Ticketmaster Express at 1-866-448-7849 or online at; must be 21 to attend.

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