BREWER, Maine — Twenty-eight mixed martial artists sacrificed part of their Memorial Day weekend to bring their sport back to the area for the first time in nearly two years and support the region’s veterans community.

“All-American Kickboxing” was held at Jeff’s Catering on Saturday night, with fighters representing six different Maine gyms participating in non-judged sparring exhibitions.

Approximately 400 fans turned out to watch, and after expenses nearly $1,400 in donated admissions was presented to the Maine Veterans Project, a year-old nonprofit that provides support for local veterans, particularly with an eye toward reducing the number of veteran suicides.

“We knew they put out 400 seats and there weren’t more than 20 that didn’t have someone in them, and there were probably that many more walking around,” said event organizer and top local MMA prospect Josh Harvey.

“We had a great turnout.”

Harvey and Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington were among the fighters who took part in the kickboxing exhibitions. Boyington, who is scheduled to fight on the World Series of Fighting’s WSOF 31 card in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on June 17, had his sparring exhibition against Shawn “Doc” Goodwin, founder and president of the Maine Veterans Project.

“We had 14 [exhibitions] and every one went the distance,” said Harvey, who battled Young’s MMA teammate Aaron Lacey. “They were evenly, evenly matched and everyone said they had a good experience.”

This marked the first time a combat sports event has been held in Bangor or Brewer since Hermon High School graduate and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White brought a UFC card featuring top light heavyweight contenders Ryan Bader and Ovince Saint Preux and Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch to the Cross Insurance Center in August 2014.

But it was the second such benefit exhibition held in the last two months regionally.

Harvey, in conjunction with MaineNightOut.com, held a similar sparring event at Factory One in Dexter in early April.

Between the two kickboxing events nearly $2,000 has been raised for the Maine Veterans Project, and Harvey has scheduled another night of exhibitions for July 16 at the Dexter locale.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...