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County prosecutor packs a punch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants fights most of his battles in a courtroom dressed in a suit and tie. But on July 30 he'll put on gloves and jump into the boxing ring. 

Plants said he agreed to fight in a special event at Appalachian Power Park if a portion of the proceeds go to a domestic violence resource center that he recently helped establish.

He'll be hoping for a knockout instead of a conviction.

"I had two amateur fights while I was at WVU," Plants said. "I boxed during the summers to keep in shape. It's a hobby I enjoyed."

But the former football player hadn't put on the gloves in 11 years when he got a call from his former boxing coach and promoter, Steve Simons in Morgantown.

"He asks me every year," Plants said. "He puts on these boxing matches every year at Power Park, and this year I thought it would be a good way to raise money for my victims' rights center."

That program, housed at the prosecutor's new offices across from the county courthouse, was named for local victim Starlena Pratt. Pratt died after her ex-boyfriend, Farley Rhodes, set her on fire.

"He's paying me $1,000 to fight," said Plants, who doesn't know yet who his opponent will be. "Legally, I can't keep that money. All of it goes to the foundation."

In addition, Simons agreed to give 25 percent of the ticket proceeds to the victim's rights center. Plants hopes to bring in $2,000 to $3,000 for the cause.

"It will help me get in shape," said the prosecutor, who has started working out at the South Charleston Community Center to prepare for the match. "Sunday I sparred with a guy I don't know, and he bloodied my nose.

"I'm 33," he said. "And I'm going to be fighting someone in his 20s. For the last three weeks I've been running, punching a bag and sparring, working out with a friend.

"I'm working on my combinations and getting my cardiovascular system back in shape. I might get my head knocked off, but my cholesterol will be down."

Plants said, "I know critics will probably say it's a publicity stunt. It's just not true. I was approached, and it's an opportunity for me to help a charity.

"Some people play tennis, some golf. I box," he said. "It'll be a fun night. If I get hit too hard, I could just fall down."

The event will include 10-15 boxing matches in a ring set up in the middle of the field at Power Park. Tickets are $20, but onfield tables for groups will be available for $500 and $1,000.

To promote his participation in the event, Plants said he would have a picture of himself taken this week and blown up to full-life size for posters to place around the Kanawha Valley.

"There's already a network of groups that fight domestic violence," he said. "This is an easy way to tap into that and raise money."

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.


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