The “Celebration of Punchers & Painters” — a successful six-week long, Oregon District exhibit of boxing memorabilia and the artwork of Mike Elsass that was interspersed with several live events in downtown Dayton — comes to an end after this weekend.
But several things set in motion by the show will continue.
“I think it was a tremendous success,” said Elsass, who runs the Color of Energy Gallery on Brown Street, which housed the show. “It brought the community together in a meaningful way.”
The events drew diverse crowds downtown, not only for evenings celebrating former world champ Aaron Pryor and Olympic hopeful Chris Pearson, but especially for an open-air fight show in the middle of Fourth Street put on by downtown boxing gym proprietor John Drake.
“It showed boxing isn’t dead here, it just was asleep and needed someone to wake it up. And now it has,” said Milt Pearson, Chris’ dad, who works with the Montgomery County Juvenile Courts and runs a Trotwood boxing gym on the side. “It’s more proof Dayton is a great sports town.”
And that has other people planning events. At least three local groups — including the Dayton Dragons — are now interested in putting on boxing shows.
And Drake is planning a big event for February.
“After seeing how (Punchers & Painters) worked, I’m hearing all kinds of ideas,” Elsass said. “Everything from someone wanting to race cars through the downtown streets to putting on a big spelling bee.
“I think we kind of set the platform to do other stuff. It proved you don’t need big committees and lots of talk. It just showed what passion, a little energy and pushing ahead can do.”