Thursday, July 10, 2008

Video of Juniper Park Boxing Match Draws Ire of Parks Department

Above: The YouTube video of a boxing match in Juniper Valley Park.

By Conor Greene

MIDDLE VILLAGE – A video of an amateur boxing match apparently held in Juniper Valley Park – complete with a makeshift ring and several dozen spectators – was recently posted on YouTube and has gained the attention of residents and city officials.

The nearly eight-minute video has garnered nearly 1,000 hits since it was posted by user mikereka on June 23. It features a three-round fight between “Little Mark the Spark from Juniper Park” and “Brian the Abductor.” It opens with interviews of each conducted at the park by the referee, “Billy Bottles” using a beer bottle instead of a microphone.

The video then cuts to “The Ring,” which appears to be set up, complete with ropes, in the upper portion of Juniper Park. With a large group of spectators surrounding the ring, the two fighters exchanged words before squaring off. The interview videos appear to have been shot at the park during the day, while the match seems to take place at dusk, as the park lights can been seen in the background.

Round one begins with the two men, wearing boxing gloves, exchanging jabs and punches.

The crowd can be heard yelling things such as, “Fight each other” and “Jab him right in the mouth, Mark.” About one minute into the round, Little Mark connects with a right hand to the side of Brian’s face, knocking him to the ground. The crowd whistles and yells “Get up, get up!” as Brian sat on the ground for about five seconds, appearing slightly dazed before getting up, with some help.

The fight eventually ends in round three after Mark connected with several shots to Brian’s face. Even thought Brian was able to stay on his feet, the ref ended the bout, a decision disappointed at least one spectator.

“That ain’t the right, no way, somebody’s gotta get knocked out,” someone is heard yelling.

As of Wednesday morning, the video had been viewed 946 times on YouTube. A second video, just showing the first round knockdown punch, has been viewed 344 times. It features several slow motion replays of Mark punching Brian’s face, with the caption, “Strong effort but game over kid.”

The videos, which can be viewed at, caught the attention of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which represents 1,700 families in the neighborhood.

Its president, Robert Holden, called it “disturbing” and said it “demonstrates the need for regular police patrols” in the park. “The park attracts thousands of people a day during the summer months and it is imperative we get police coverage for Juniper,” Holden said.

The Parks Department also was not pleased that a video depicting a boxing match in a public park has been created. “This violent behavior will not be tolerated in New York City parks, because of the potential for serious injuries and disruption of the peace in the surroundings neighborhoods,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “The Parks Department is working with NYPD to stop similar incidents from happening in any city parks.”

According to the person who posted the video, mikereka, the attention being paid to the video is not warranted. In an e-mail message, he said he is “unaware of a boxing match taking place at JVP.” He said, “If you look closely you can see the fights are not ‘real.’ These videos have been enhanced using software such as Final Cut Pro… No crime has been committed by any persons seen in these videos. I cannot say I’m sorry, but it’s unfortunate that a lot of residents and local officials are upset by these videos.”

Mikereka argues that he doubts “such a large group of people could actually get away with having a boxing match in a NYC park” without the NYPD responding “immediately to shut it down.”

A follow-up message was sent to mikereka seeking clarification as to whether the activities took place in Juniper Valley Park and whether the fight was staged. “The short answer is yes the footage seen on my page was staged for a lack of an in depth explanation,” he wrote. “It was not a fight. No fighting occurred in a public place.”

He adds, “The intent of the video is/was not to receive negative press/publicity. However, I guess it’s not bad that it’s been recognized by The Forum West… Again, the intent of the video on youtube/mikereka was not to anger residents & local officials. To set the record straight Billy “Bottles” & Reka “The Saint” just make funny videos.”

At least one local resident who viewed the video and has experience using Final Cut Pro software doubts that the fight was staged. “After Effects is really just a compositing program and can’t fake punches to the face,” said Rob Jett.

“Creative editing could make some things look more convincing, but not in that video.”