ATLANTA, GA. - There's been resounding response to the now-viral story of a local gym's "no cops" policy since 11Alive first posted it online, Tuesday.
Many expressed outrage after a sign, with profanity, appeared in the window of the EAV Barbell Club in Atlanta. But there was one response that was unexpected -- a local cop who's challenging the owner of the gym to a boxing match.
In an email sent into 11Alive's newsroom, Tommy Lefever said he'd like to challenge the gym's owner, Jim Chambers, to a match at an upcoming boxing event. So, we reached out to Lefever to talk to him about the offer.
"He seems like he might enjoy getting the opportunity to punch a cop in the face and I'd be happy to oblige him and give him that opportunity," the Fayetteville, Georgia resident said.
According to the Jim Chambers, who owns EAV Barbell Club, has had the "No Cops" or military personnel policy since it opened. Chambers, a lifelong political activist, told 11Alive he defends the controversial policy. He said groups who work out there are generally minorities who are uncomfortable with the presence of law enforcement agents.
"It was really just that the vulgarity in that sign, and that seems to bring it out for people," he said.
The story sparked the idea with Lefever, who asked to keep the department he works for anonymous. He told 11Alive's Chris Hopper he understands the challenges police officers face in 2017. But, the seven-year police veteran said he hopes the boxing match will change Chambers' mind.
"I found, you sweat, you bleed with somebody, you exchange punches with somebody in a sport like boxing, it's hard not to respect the guy for getting in there with you afterwards," he said.
While it may not be duked out as Ali versus Foreman's "Rumble in the Jungle," Lefever said it's not about breaking a nose, but about bridging a gap.
"Gaining mutual respect for one another in the boxing ring might be the start of something that can help overcome differences in world view, ideology, what have you," he said.
So, will it work?
Who knows. But Lefever said the challenge is on the table.
"There's more work to be done, and I'd love to, if there's anything I can do to help make that connection, then it's totally worth it to get in the ring with a guy and make it happen."
Chambers laughed when 11Alive told him about Lefever's offer. He said he wanted to know if it would be a fair fight before he accepted. Meanwhile, Lefever said he'd love to start a conversation and see where it goes.
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