After a week in the Netherlands, Cpl. Anthony Blare from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office returned to Frederick with some new bling — a bronze medal.
Blare competed in boxing in July at the biennial World Police and Fire Games, an international athletic and public safety competition.
He felt good about his fisticuffs result — third place in the 75-kilogram (165-pound) class, which is middleweight.
Blare, who lives in Falling Waters, West Virginia, said he was nervous when he faced his first three-round fight.
He won in a walkover after his opponent showed up but refused to fight, he said. Blare said he never found out why.
At Blare’s next bout two days later, he said, he had broken through a mental barrier and was feeling ready. He lost to Keven Dhuème, a Frenchman, in the second round.
Blare said he’s 5-foot-10, and Dhuème was a little taller than 6-0, giving him more reach, which made it harder for Blare to close in and get points.
“You can always try to go in and work harder and fight harder, but at the end of the day, I felt better. Like, I felt OK with what I did,” Blare said.
Dhuème won his weight class, according to results from the games. He had competed in previous World Police and Fire Games in 2015 and 2017, records from those events show.
Blare said he is done competing in combat sports. For one, the age limit for the World Police and Fire Games is 39. Blare turns 40 next week.
But he also doesn’t want to get injured anymore, he said.
“Just can’t keep getting banged up like that,” he said. “I think I went out on a good note, as far as that goes.”
In 2019, Blare learned about the World Police and Fire Games from a former competitor. The games were in Chengdu, China, that year.
He started training for the 2021 games in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. But the event was pushed to 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blare has competed in combat sports — mostly jiujitsu and kickboxing — since 2004. After breaking his arm, he switched to boxing, a sport he has known since he was young.
“My grandpa was a Golden Gloves [competitor] and in the Marines, so it’s always kind of been there. Like, we would always watch boxing and stuff growing up,” Blare said.
But since he was used to a different style of combat, so he had to rewire how he fought, he said. He went to Kevin White, a former colleague of his from the sheriff’s office.
White boxed when he was younger, and trained his son to box. White agreed to help Blare train for the World Police and Fire Games.
White said it took time for Blare to see that things that worked in kickboxing wouldn’t work in boxing.
But any time they trained, Blare showed up to work hard and listen, White said.
“He’s definitely a warrior in his heart,” White said. “I’ve never questioned his heart or his ethic.”
White wanted to go to Rotterdam with Blare but couldn’t due to work conflicts. But he said he knew Blare would do well, and he was proud of him.
Blare’s father also told Blare he would come to the Netherlands when the competition was scheduled for July 2021 — but he died in June 2021.
Blare thought of his dad while competing in the Netherlands and how much his dad would have loved how professional the event was.
“I think that he would have been happy, especially if he was able to be out there just kind of experiencing everything and seeing everything,” he said.
Blare said scoring in boxing was different in Europe. In the United States, he said, hooks are thrown with the thumb facing up. A European hook is thrown with the thumb facing the body. An American-style hook won’t get a point, he said.
Blare got to see sights during his week in Rotterdam. He enjoyed Dutch cuisine and architecture, such as the Netherlands Cube Houses. Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, the houses are literal cubes tilted at a 45-degree angle.
Blare befriended two firefighters from Arizona on the trip. It was a trip and a competition to remember, he said.
“It was definitely a great experience,” he said. “And, you know, to go and represent the country and the sheriff’s office and everything, it was great,” he said.
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel