Typically when someone describes a fighter they don’t usually say things like, “He’s got a really big heart.” But Chuck Horton and Brad Bennett, two former boxers and combat veterans, say just that about each other.
They met years ago and had an instant connection through their service history; Bennett was a Marine in Vietnam and Horton served in the Army in Desert Storm. Horton grew up in a boxing family in Duluth, Minnesota, and Bennett boxed a little as a Marine. This brought the two men closer.
After leaving the military, Bennett watched boxing from afar. He knew how hard people had to work to be good at the sport. He says he has a great deal of respect for the athletes and was always impressed with those like Zach Walters who could make something of it.
When Horton was getting started and looking for an announcer for his matches, he asked Bennett if he would be interested. Not only did he jump at the chance, his wife got involved as well. She sold the tickets for the Duluth boxing club’s 50/50 raffles and he encouraged the crowd to purchase tickets between matches.
These days Bennett spends his time behind the mic on his radio show, Sound Off, on WDSM 710 AM in Duluth. He says he likes to throw out some issues at the beginning of his show and kind of let the listeners determine where the show goes. And although regional and national events get some air time, most of his show is based on what’s happening locally in business and politics.
This time of the year for Bennett there’s plenty going on locally. He’s currently in the midst of planning a Christmas Eve dinner for anyone who needs a hot meal that afternoon. It’s a tradition that started almost thirty years ago with one turkey and the usual fixings. Now they’re averaging between 400-450 diners.
And the best part is that all of the food is donated, and the cooks and helpers volunteer their time.
They turn-over the tables at the VFW in Duluth’s west end about three times that afternoon to accommodate all the people. But the help don’t mind. They are happily there in their Christmas aprons and Santa hats, ready to enjoy a visit from Santa himself.
Bennett says, “At the end of the day you’re worn out, and now you have to go home and do your own stuff. But it just makes you feel good.” And he says he runs it the same way Horton ran his gym, no one is turned away. It’s just what’s best for the community.
Two tough guys with big hearts, indeed.
Author: Roxanne Wilmes
Be sure to visit the other sites of Duluth boxing promoter and trainer, Chuck Horton, for more interesting stories.