The mission of GNH remains the same every year – Support the Survivors.
Guns ‘N Hoses
Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses is presented by The St. Louis Guns ‘N Hoses Boxing Association, Inc. The organization is a 501c3 and all funds raised are donated to The BackStoppers each year in February. GNH is governed by a Board of Directors with David Stokes presiding as President and Steve Holley as Executive Director.
Our team of volunteers is led by Executive Director, Steve Holley. Each year this group of approximately 300 volunteers hosts The Jack Martorelli Golf Tournament, The Blue and Red Gala, The Annual Toy Drive, The GNH Hoe Down, the Annual Press Conference, The Annual Awards Banquet and the crown jewel – the Guns ‘N Hoses Charity Boxing & MMA Tournament on Thanksgiving Eve.
St. Louis’ Biggest Holiday Spectacle:
Budweiser Guns ’N Hoses Packs a Punch for Charity
Every year, Red and Blue step into the ring to represent their departments, peers, family, and community. It’s the biggest wedding reception you’ll ever see without a wedding. We hold a variety of mens and womens bouts including boxing and MMA, and always put on a great show! Each show, we always have something special planned. From our Ten Count Ceremony, showstopping performers, celebrity appearances, bouts, and more, Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses proves the holiday season doesn’t start until the first bell rings. This St. Louis Tradition is a staple for many families and friends in our community.
The GNH group of volunteers come from all walks of life and all businesses across the metro area. Our team is composed of many Chiefs of local police and fire departments, many union officials and members, many area first responders and a group of folks that are just passionate about the cause.
to The BackStoppers in the last 36 years
Each year, thousands honor the lives of more than 100 fallen first responders – men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty. This ultimate sacrifice is deserving of the ultimate fundraising tribute.
When these first responders and public safety workers pass, they leave behind friends and family. Family they’ll no longer be able to support. Losing those who serve to protect is a tragic reality, but we can ease the pain. We can make a difference for so many deserving families. We can pay for living necessities. We can send a child to school. We can change lives.
Within moments of the death of a police officer, firefighter, publicly funded paramedic or EMT, The BackStoppers donates $10,000 to his or her family and assures further involvement and assistance. This support includes:
- Relieving Financial Debt
- Educational Assistance
- Securing Health & Dental Insurance
- Tuition Assistance & Other Miscellaneous Expenses
The BackStoppers currently supports approximately
95 families and 80 children.
Proceeds from Guns ‘N Hoses are donated directly to The BackStoppers.
Amount donated to
Myrl Taylor got out of prison in 1969 after serving time for a concealed weapons charge. He immersed himself in the organized labor community and the amateur boxing world in which his father, Earl Taylor, was a legend. In the ring, he met fighters Jerry Clinton and Bo Holley, and the trio started planning boxing events for charities and reigniting the amateur boxing scene in St. Louis. Union and political leaders took notice, including Jack Martorelli, a former marine and also an amateur boxer. Guns ‘N Hoses was on its way to making history and creating a legacy and tradition in St. Louis unmatched by any other organization in the country. GNH would become the largest fundraiser of its kind in the country.
THE BIRTH OF GUNS ’N HOSES
Clinton, who was a Budweiser distributor, suggested The BackStoppers Inc. as a beneficiary, and a tradition was born.
THE NYPD VS. ST. LOUIS FINEST CHALLENGE
At first, Taylor and Clinton tried to pit New York police officers against St. Louis’ finest, recalled Myrl Taylor. “NYPD had about 36,000 officers with an average age of 24, and St. Louis had about 2,200 officers with an average age of 44, so that wasn’t going to work,” Taylor said.
THE FIREFIGHTER-POLICE CHARITY DUEL THAT INSPIRED IT ALL
Taylor then heard about a beef between a firefighter and a police officer in Beaufort, a small town in Franklin County, where they supposedly settled their differences by duking it out for charity. What the beef was about, or whether the boxing match ever actually happened, is up for debate. Nonetheless, the story became the motive for pitting firefighters against police officers.
UNITING POLICE, FIREFIGHTERS AND POLITICIANS
Jack Martorelli was asked to join the team and he persuaded police chiefs, fire chiefs and politicians to support the event.
THE BIRTH OF ST. LOUIS METRO BOXING SHOWDOWN
In May 1987, several hundreds watched St. Louis firefighters and police officers fight their counterparts from St. Louis County. The event was dubbed “St. Louis Metro Boxing Showdown”. “It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue,” Clinton quipped of the title. And it didn’t exactly raise money. Clinton, then owner of Grey Eagle Distributors, wrote a $25,000 check to cover losses and a donation to The BackStoppers. But the organizers didn’t throw in their towels. They moved the date to the night before Thanksgiving.
TURNING LOSSES INTO A THANKSGIVING CHARITY TRADITION
City police and firefighters won the first eight years in a row, much to the chagrin of their county counterparts, so Holley said organizers opened the bouts to all of the areas that The BackStoppers serves. Contestants now come from 21 counties across Missouri and Illinois; and, the format was changed to police versus fire.
FROM CITY VS. COUNTY TO POLICE VS. FIRE: GNH’S EVOLUTION
By the mid 1990s, organizers had dubbed the event Guns ’N Hoses. When the donations from the event reached about $550,000 to The BackStoppers, Clinton told his fellow organizers they might stop it when the total reached $1 million, Holley recalled. “Thank God he didn’t,” said Ron Battelle, Executive Director of The BackStoppers. The event now generates almost half of the nonprofit’s annual budget, and has generated a total of approximately $11 million over the past 35 years. GNH 2023 will be the 36th event held.
9/11 IMPACT: GNH’S RECORD-BREAKING DONATION
The terrorist attacks of 2001 more than quadrupled the average amount that the event generated, including business sponsorships, to about $292,000 from $60,000. About 18,000 people attended in 2001. The $292,000.00 from 2001 was donated to the 911 Fund in New York to support survivor families. Taylor and Clinton hand delivered and presented the check to officials in New York.
TAYLOR’S UNIQUE MATCHMAKING
Taylor served as the tournament director until his death from cancer in 2004, once telling the Post-Dispatch, “Everyone wants me to match the Big Bad Wolf with Little Bo Peep. That isn’t going to happen. If I don’t have two Big Bad Wolves to put together, two Bo Peeps will fight each other.”
INSPIRING NATIONWIDE REPLICAS
Organizations and departments across the country have tried to bring Guns ’N Hoses events to their own jurisdictions, Holley said. Some have succeeded, including Dallas, which began a version about 25 years ago.
DAVID STOKES: GNH’S LEGACY STEWARD
David Stokes took over as President of GNH in 2005 when he acquired Grey Eagle Distributors from Jerry Clinton. He has happily embraced the role and continues to grow the legacy of GNH.