BY DANIEL VOGEL & CAMRYN LELAND
LO’s “Fight Club” started with just a few friends boxing for fun at each other’s houses.
“At first, it was just me fighting people,” said LOHS junior Pranav Sharan. “It started off with me fighting Matt Eggiman. After that, I fought Nick Kiddle. And then it just got bigger and bigger from there. That’s how it went from ‘fights’ to ‘fight club.’”
The “club” grew from just a few friends boxing each other to a massive public spectacle, attracting over 200 people at the largest event.
The group hasn’t had much trouble with the school, but has faced off with the Lake Oswego Police Department (LOPD) on multiple occasions. At the most recent event, over 60 people were detained, including one Lake Views reporter.
“We were all just talking, chillin, and then the cops showed up and said, “you’re all being detained for disorderly conduct,” and then they made us all sit down,” said junior Carlos Cueva, who had participated in the ring at a previous event. “Usually when you’re detained you can ask if you can leave, but then he said, ‘no, you have to all stay for this whole time.’ They made us stay there for 10 minutes, and they talked to us about how it’s not legal to fight in a public place, or something.”
Two LOPD officers, Officer Suzanne Jones and Officer Wesel, arrived some 20 minutes after the lone, one-round match that took place that night. Upon arriving, they announced that everyone there had to stand on the stairs. “We’re investigating the possible crime of Disorderly Conduct. Any questions about that? Everybody understand? Nobody’s free to go right now.” said Mr Jones. “We have to determine that the crime was committed and who committed it.”
“They told us we were all being detained, but they didn’t tell us why. They gave us a B.S. reason,” said one of the fighters, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.
“They shined the flashlights in our faces for two minutes, then they got us all on the steps, and then kinda stood around, waiting for another person to show up. They asked questions, specifically to Pranav, because he was holding the boxing gloves. He [Pranav] talked about how the police, a couple weeks before, had told us to fight at Westlake,” said junior Maddie Boe, who arrived just five minutes prior to the police. “I was right about to go to the bathroom when the police showed up, and then I thought they would let me go, because I wasn’t going to run away. I told the male policeman that he could watch me walk to the bathroom and make sure I would come back. He didn’t actually respond to me, but he asked the girl, and she told me not to, so I had to wait 10 more minutes. They took a while, and then I just went right after.”
Sharan, who orchestrates the club, talked to the officers directly after the crowd was dispersed.
“Listen. Go to google. go to Oregon revised statutes, you’ll see wording in there that’s something to the effect of ‘engaging in violent tumultuous behavior.’ Ok? Period. And it goes on from there. But that’s what the definition of the crime is. It’s not a real high level crime, but it’s a crime,” Officer Whiteman, who arrived last, said to Sharan.
“But no one here was drunk,” Sharan replied.
“Even if you were consenting to fighting, the public doesn’t know that. They don’t know that a fight isn’t occurring between two people who don’t want to be fighting. And that’s the problem: you’re alarming the public,” replied officer Jones.
“So you guys saw the movie “fight club” and wanted to try it?” added officer Whiteman.
“It’s not like that,” Sharan said, “Everyone’s wearing mouth guards and that kind of stuff.”
“They [the cops] weren’t really adequately giving us any answers,” said junior Tommy Ainsworth. “The first two that were there were somewhat polite, and they were being cooperative with us, and we were being cooperative for the most part with them. Then that third cop showed up and he started mouthing off. He said the park was closed, and it was 6:45. And then Ben went up and asked, ‘when does the park normally close?’ and the cop was really arrogant. He said, ‘It closes now! Get out of here.’ And Ben, him [Officer Whiteman] having refused the question, asked again, and he said ‘It closes now!’ Just completely not giving a reasonable answer.”
“It was kind of frightening. I didn’t like it, I didn’t do anything wrong. But I understand why they did it,” said junior Jack Macmillan. “I was a witness, and they detained me. Obviously I wasn’t a fighter. The fighters were dressed up in a whole bunch of stuff, and I was wearing a flannel and jeans. They didn’t really have a reason to pull over and tell me to sit on the curb.”
“It was kinda cool, I’d never been detained before,” said Alex Shakerin, sophomore. “personally I wasn’t offended by it, but I don’t know the system, and I don’t know their rights or my rights. So I should probably look that up.”
Issues arose from this incident because, technically, officers aren’t allowed to detain people for disorderly conduct (a Class B misdemeanor) if they weren’t present at the time it occurred. Likewise, most people were detained as witnesses to a crime that hadn’t yet been established as having happened. Officers are usually only allowed to detain people if they have probable cause that that person committed a crime, and that probable cause must be specific to the individual, not placed across a group of 60 people.
According to the public records division within the LOPD, no officers filed a report on the incident, and the police never included in any of their records the detention of the 60 people.
The LOPD public affairs officer didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
THE ORIGIN STORY
Juniors Ralph Smith (who asked his name not be changed for fear of retribution) and Pranav Sharan orchestrate the club.
Smith used to box with his brother Zach. “We’re siblings, we fought growing up, y’know. We boxed.”
Smith boxed friends for awhile, including junior Matt Eggiman this summer. “We get out a Bob Dylan record, and we turn it up all the way–it was one of those big records, but we played it on small record speed, so it was like, ‘nyeahh!!!’ So then we beat the crap out of each other in his living room,” said Eggiman.
“He wore my football helmet, and then I wore this karate helmet since I’ve had since second grade. Matt still got a concussion, even with a helmet on,” said Smith. “It was like his seventh [concussion]. He’s got a lot of head trauma going on.”
“Up until this point,” said Eggiman, “it’s just a fun thing to do with friends, and it’s not ridiculous. But then Pranav hears about it. Whenever Pranav gets ahold of anything, it goes way too far. It gets out of hand.”
Later in the summer, and after a few other friendly fights, Smith boxed Sharan. “We boxed; it was a solid match,” said Smith. “Pranav’s a real tough guy, it was a solid fight.”
“Riley won the fight overall,” said Sharan.
Eggiman and Sharan then arranged a fight, which took place at Westlake Park and a friend’s front yard. The match was attended by a few friends. “He used a helmet, and I didn’t, and I still fought him,” said Sharan. “That’s why my face was bleeding and his wasn’t. Cause he used a helmet with a face guard.”
Unlike the fight club portrayed in Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club,” this fight club has ground rules other than not talking about fight club. There are three 90 second rounds, and boxers are not allowed to hit below the waist, kick their opponent, or take their opponent to the ground. Most every match is attended by a referee, and both fighters wear gloves and a mouth guard.
Sharan, Smith and Eggiman all agreed that the Eggiman v Sharan fight was when fight club officially began. Quickly after, Sharan received multiple requests to box other people. “After I fought Matt, Nick Kiddle was like, “Pranav, you have terrible technique,” and I was like, “Ok Nick, let’s box,” and I knew I was going to beat him,” said Sharan.
Kiddle received a concussion soon after the beginning of the fight.
Sharan and Smith are quick to point out that if a boxer is injured, they receive the proper care.
“I really liked what Pranav did that day,” said Smith. “See, most people wouldn’t really care, they’d be like, ‘oh yeah, I destroyed you, so, like, you lost,’ right? But the whole rest of that day, Pranav was texting Nick Kiddle, making sure that he was o.k. and that if he had a concussion that he stays awake. I thought that was real cool of Pranav.”
“Pranav gave me a dollar for McDonald’s,” said Nick Kiddle, in addition to the other assistance.
The biggest and event happened the night of December 19th, just before winter break, at Uplands elementary school. Around 100 people attended. This was also the first event where multiple fights happened.
The crowd gathered in a circle around the first two fighters. The size of the crowd put most attendees on edge.
“Halfway through, some car pulled up–people thought it was a cop–and everybody ran away. After that we realized it wasn’t a cop and kind of regathered,” said Sharan.
Then, “The [actual] cops showed up and everyone ran,” said Carlos Cueva, one of the fighters at this event.
“Some people talked to the cops, and the cops said, ‘we’re not going to get you in trouble or anything, but we don’t want you to be doing it at Uplands,’” said Sharan. “They suggested Westlake as the place to box. So then we went to Westlake.”
As none of the fights have happened on LOHS ground or during LOHS hours, there’s little the LOHS administration can do to prevent fights from happening. “As long as students aren’t participating in the activities on school ground then, there is not much we as a school administration can do,” said Vice Principal Travis Johnson. “There’s a reason we do not have a boxing or martial arts team.”
“My biggest concern is if someone gets seriously injured, Pranav can be held liable and that most likely won’t end well,” said Johnson.
After being kicked out of Uplands by the LOPD, the group relocated to Westlake Park, where Sharan boxed junior Willie Monje. “It was a pretty aggressive fight, from both of us, we were both hitting each other a lot,” said Sharan. “Then he tripped and fell and pushed me over, and hit his head on my head. And then he was unconscious for a little while. Then he started throwing up. He wasn’t able to fight anymore–he definitely had a concussion. I was pretty much fine, for some reason.”
“It was pretty exciting,” said Monje. “I guess you could say Pranav won since I blacked out, but I was pretty sure I had a concussion and didn’t want to get hurt anymore.”
“The whole fight club thing was really stupid. It was just bored Lake Oswego teenagers trying to liven up their weekends,” said Byrd.
Sharan vouched for the sporting aspect of the club. “I don’t think it’s violence at all, because there’s no hatred between either of the two people. It’s a sport that people do for fun.,” said Sharan. “It’s like football, or soccer, or tennis. It’s not offered at the school right now and that’s why we have this club.”
Others felt this detracted from the fighting aspect of a fight club. Bryanna Byrd, a junior at Lakeridge, fought a sophomore at LOHS earlier this year, but not as a part of the LOHS fight club. ““I wanted to fight her because she challenged me and i am not scared of anyone!” said Byrd. “Fight club is completely dumb and they only do it for attention. It’s wrong to beat people up for fun. Amanda and I fought to end our on-going beef.”
“Boxing is a sport. That was two people who hate each other wanting to punch each other in the face in the street,” said Smith. “This is a sport. It’s a sport that, around the world, everyone loves. That was just two crazy people in the street wanting to punch each other in the face.”
Even though the last event was raided, Sharan was quick to say that this isn’t the end of fight club. “I want to say that this shouldn’t discourage anyone from coming to fight club. It’s only happened this one time. Next time we’re going to find a better spot to do it. Fight club will continue,” he said.
“If anyone wants to fight, please contact me,” said Sharan, “Pranav100000@gmail.com. Hit me up.”