American boxer Rod Salka chose the wrong time, place and opponent to make a political statement in a boxing match.
Salka, who ran as a Republican for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2016, entered the ring prior to his ESPN2-televised main event bout against Mexican Francisco Vargas to Lee Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the USA.”
Salka’s red, white and blue trunks had the words “America 1st” on the front, and the design of a brick wall checkered on the front and the back. Salka has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and his plan to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
The fight, though, was never close. Vargas, a former Olympian and super featherweight world champion, pummeled Salka for six rounds, mixing in a steady dose of deadly body shots and combinations to Salka’s face.
Vargas (25-1-2, 18 knockouts) knocked Salka down in the fifth round and the fight was later stopped after the sixth when Salka’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.
“I was surprised when he was coming to the ring,” Vargas said in Spanish to ESPN Deportes. “I saw him dressed with a wall on his clothes, or representing the wall, but I kept calm. I was focused on making my fight and on my plan.
“Once we were already in the ring, the wall was an extra (motivation). So, when I had him head on, I gave it everything. Whatever it is, I represent Mexico, and I feel that everything about that wall is against all my countrymen.”