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Grappling to honor the fallen officers

Fundraiser: L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies go up against LAPD to raise funds

Posted: September 19, 2010 10:40 p.m.
Updated: September 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

In the middle of a darkened field, lit up by baseball diamond flood lights, scores of people sit around a circular wire cage.
Ear-splitting rock music starts. It’s the sound of George Thorogood and The Destroyers with their song, “Bad to the Bone.”

From inside billowing clouds of dry ice nearby, a young man in shorts and a muscle-clinging T-shirt marches out of the mist across the damp grass to the cage, in the shadow of the Castaic Sports Complex.

The crowd — dotted with those with beers in hand, some balancing pizza slices on paper plates — cheers wildly as the man steps into the cage.

Another man, almost his double, follows him into the cage.

The door behind them is shut.

It’s bout No. 6, police officers versus sheriff’s deputies in a grueling one-on-one grappling match.

It was Saturday night and it was all right for fighting and certainly all right for fighters to raise money in honor of their fallen fellow officers.

The 2nd annual In Their Honor Submission Grappling Duel, pitting (for the most part) sworn officers of the Los Angeles Police Department against those with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was staged specifically Saturday to raise money for a memorial to honor fallen officers in Santa Clarita.

Sponsored by the Farmers Insurance Group, the event hosted vendors and crafts people selling things like T-shirts, necklaces and candles.

Bout No. 6 saw Deputy Gabe Barlow of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station take on Canyon Country resident and LAPD officer Alan Sellers, both trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“Primarily, grappling and wrestling are a lot the same, but there are some holds and certain positions not allowed here. And, they can tap out at any time,” said Lt. Brian Morguchi, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and president of the Professional Peace Officers Association, which staged the match.

“And, we don’t allow body slams and we don’t allow finger-locks because you could easily break a finger. All this is so they can build a peace officer memorial at the Santa Clarita station.”

Moriguchi’s voice was suddenly drowned out by shouts of “push his head down, push his head down” and yelps of onlookers cheering and spilling beer and popcorn in the excitement.

The man who suggested holding the fight in Castaic was the man whose arm was now being raised by the referee inside the wire cage.

Bout No. 6 was over.

“This was a common thing we all cared about,” said Barlow, panting and sweating as he stepped out of the cage.
He suggested the grappling fundraiser come to Castaic in the hope of building a memorial honoring local fallen peace officers, with proceeds going specifically to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Memorial Fund.

“All the guys felt that this was something we could do for a fellow fallen officer and something they deserved,” Barlow said.

Fueling the need for such a memorial was, most notably, the recent death of 27-year-old local Deputy Cameron Glover.

On April 28, Cameron Glover died while off-duty in a motorcycle crash on McBean Parkway near Granary Square in Valencia.


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