Jacksonville cops and firefighters will go at it again in the ninth annual Guns ‘N Hoses charity hockey game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Then the 24th annual Guns ‘N Hoses charity boxing match will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 15 at the University of North Florida Arena, after a street party at 3:30 p.m.
Both sporting events have raised more than a million dollars for charities supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters over the years. If that isn’t enough inducement, the doubleheader events should be a lot of fun for first-time as well as past fans, said.
“People really enjoy it, two weekends in a row to support a great charity and really have a good time of brotherhood and sisterhood,” said firefighters union chief Randy Wyse. “Just the draw of a public safety event will make people come. People see us in a professional way, out responding to the public, so to see us in a totally different venue is very interesting.”
The Jacksonville firefighters lead the boxing matches overall, with two draws, and the hockey games are tied. But FOP Lodge 5-30 President Randy Reaves said both events are a win for local sports fans.
“It’s going to be a family fun event, especially the hockey this weekend,” Reaves said. “And we are really excited about the new boxing venue at the UNF Arena. They just remodeled their arena so it will be a smaller venue. But being a bit smaller will add to it with the excitement. I think we will be able to pack it out.”
Hitting the ice
First up is the charity hockey game, set for 3 p.m., then the Jacksonville Icemen will host the Atlanta Gladiators at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at both games will benefit FOP- and JFRD-supported charities. It is “two games in one,” Reaves said, since each ticket purchased for the Icemen game admits fans to the Guns n’ Hoses charity hockey game as well.
“There’s one day a year where JSO and JFRD go head to head in the Guns n’ Hoses competition series,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “I want to thank the Jacksonville Icemen for once again opening the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena to our city’s first responders for an afternoon of family fun for a great cause.”
The firefighters will bring 23 players to the 17 on the police side. There will be some “very talented players” from police and firefighter ranks, even if they are not from around the Sunshine State originally, Wyse joked.
“You would be amazed at the number of northern brothers and sisters who come down and become firefighters,” Wyse said. “Everybody wants to move here, so we have a lot from up north that played as kids and teens.”
“Police won last year in a shootout, so we have the trophy and hopefully we get it back after this weekend,” Reaves added.
Then comes the Guns ‘n Hoses charity boxing match a week later, moved this year to the UNF Arena. Proceeds benefit the FOP Foundation’s local charities and Police Athletic League as well.
The usual Guns N’ Hoses format since the first games in 1999 sees firefighters and officers facing off in three one-minute rounds each, with a total of nine matches this year. The firefighters and police officers are all amateur boxers who began training in January for next weekend’s matches, where they will wear full pads and safety equipment. The winner receives a title belt for the year.
This year’s boxing roster includes fighters from Jacksonville, Clay and St. Johns counties, Wyse said.
“We are representing the whole of Northeast Florida,” he said. “We have nine fights this year, but we will have 15 or 20 out training, committing a lot of time and a lot of work, and some of them will actually get a fight. They have to pair up size-wise and skill level.”
Normally, police go head to head in both events. But in 2021, Jacksonville’s firefighters and officers teamed up to take on The Fighting Finest — New York City’s official police and corrections boxing team — at the boxing event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. In that one, Jacksonville’s firefighters and police won.
Guns ‘n Hoses schedules:
- Police vs. firefighter hockey game — 3 p.m. Saturday at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, 300 A. Philip Randolph Blvd. Tickets for the game, and the Icemen match to follow, range from $20 to $40.
- Police vs. firefighters boxing matches — 3:30 p.m. April 15th street party at 3:30 p.m. April 15, then the fight bell at 6:30 p.m. at the UNF Arena, 11852 UNF Drive. General admission tickets are $15 each plus fees; reserved seats are $25 to $40 plus fees.