HAMMOND | Jack Callahan is still throwing haymakers.
And, boy, they carry some weight.
The former professional boxer has teamed up with wife Karen for an unique charity event billed as the "911 Slugfest" pitting local firemen against policemen in the Hammond Civic Center ring on April 5.
This won't be a blood-and-guts, leave-the-kiddies-home sporting event. If anything, it promises to be entertaining, highly competitive and you may catch yourself chuckling a bit.
There will be 13 bouts, three one-minute rounds, using 16-ounce gloves and "big head gear." The standard three-knockdown or 10-count will apply.
Entrants must be full-time policemen and firemen. They cannot have boxed professionally and both opponents must be within 10 pounds of the other.
If they've had amateur fights, they will be matched up against someone with the same experience.
Those first responders who lace up the gloves must sign three waivers and be from Lake, Porter, Jasper or Newton counties.
There is a natural rivalry between cops and fire fighters in general, according to Callahan, that could result in a flurry of punches.
"I tell 'em three one-minute rounds. I want you to do nothing but just BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!'' said Callahan, who is training many of the combatants throughout the area.
"It's endurance. Once you get in there, you're gonna be scared and nervous but it's all about keeping your stomach tight and relaxing."
If you're good at math without having to remove your shoes when counting, you've already figured Callahan needs 26 fighters.
He's a little more than halfway there.
"They're getting more confident, which is good," Callahan said.
Kurt Spivey, an Indianapolis detective, has been running his version of the 911 Slugfest for 11 years and has watched it grow in popularity. He's helping Jack and Karen as an advisor for their event, which they hope will become an annual affair.
"The wife and I talked and I would love to see 4,000 people in here," Callahan said of the Civic Center. "I think it's feasible. I think we can do it with the right people backing us."
There are sponsors but more are needed, and soon.
Proceeds go to the Make A Wish Foundation.
"To bring a child here and hold them would be the biggest thing in my life," said Jack, a Hammond fireman for 25 years and no stranger to tragedy and heartbreak.
He lost two children from a previous marriage. Patrick, only 7 years old, was killed in a car accident. Shannon, 25, died from an aneurism.
"It's something Jack will live with the rest of his life," Karen said. "Having gone through that, this (911 Slugfest) will help him work through his sadness.
"To help someone feel better helps him feel better."
That sense of giving has spread to all involved.
Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller volunteered to fight any other police chief.
Hammond Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf said if a child from Make A Wish wants to be a fire fighter and approaches him, he will provide the standard equipment -- a coat with the boy's name on it, pants and a helmet.
Any business interested in being an event sponsor can contact Jack (219-306-1203) or Karen (219-746-5252).
Help fill the Civic Center on April 5 and feel good about yourself.