HAMMOND — Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has yet to decide whether he'll run in 2022 against U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., for a six-year term representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate.
But the Democratic chief executive of Lake County's most populous city announced on his "Left of Center" podcast Tuesday he is ready to throw his hat, and his body, in the ring against Young — so long as it's a boxing ring.
"I am challenging you, Todd Young, to a celebrity boxing match in the Hammond Civic Center," McDermott said.
Even though he's four years older than Young (52 vs. 48), McDermott is confident his recent triathlon training will help him successfully knock out the onetime Marine, whose current athletic endeavors largely are focused on soccer.
The mayor also suggested Young has gone "soft" by eating steak dinners in Washington, D.C., since being elected to the Senate five years ago, after previously serving six years in the U.S. House representing a south-central Indiana district centered on Bloomington.
"I'm not saying he'd be easy. ... Todd could be sneaky tough," McDermott said. "But I would love to fight Todd Young in a celebrity boxing match."
McDermott quipped that if Young is willing to fight then padded headgear will be required because "this face is my trademark."
"This face is what it's all about with me. If I'm like beaten beyond recognition, I'm going to lose my job — so I've got to have headgear on," he said.
The mayor also promised Young could select the judges for the fight, even though McDermott said Young probably would pick three Republicans to ensure Young wins if it comes down to a decision on points.
"So I'm going to have to clearly knock his ass out if I'm going to win," McDermott said.
Alternatively, McDermott said he's open to making the fight less of a boxing match and more of a mixed-martial arts contest — whatever it takes to get Young in the ring.
"Let's throw a cage up," McDermott said. "I was a wrestler. I'll bust out my old wrestling moves and mess him up."
Either way, McDermott believes a match between the two politicians in early September could raise at least $100,000 for charities picked by each fighter, which he said is a better use for the money than the $150 million Young reportedly plans to spend on his reelection bid.
The Young campaign declined to respond to a request for comment on McDermott's celebrity boxing proposal.
McDermott said that's in keeping with Young backers turning "paranoid" and "threatening" toward McDermott and his supporters ever since word started spreading last week of McDermott's potential interest in the U.S. Senate race.
"Sen. Todd, somebody's going to run against you," McDermott said. "I think Todd Young is a (expletive) senator. I do. I hate to break it to you, Todd, 45% of the people in Indiana think you're a (expletive) senator."
In 2016, Young defeated Democratic former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, a two-term Indiana governor, by a 52%-42% margin to win election to the Senate.