Rick Warren, author of the bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., recently agreed to appear on NBC’s new summer show, Celebrity Match-Up, which pairs celebrities in the boxing ring for charity.
In an effort to reach the church market, NBC approached Warren last fall with the idea, but Warren quickly rejected the offer. NBC came back to Warren in late January promising to contribute $1.5 million to the charity of his choice in exchange for his appearance on the live season premiere in June.
It was an offer Warren couldn’t refuse. “I felt like I needed to swallow my pride and, well, be a fool for Christ,” Warren says. “Besides, it’s a little-known fact, but I was a golden glove champion in high school.”
Warren was given the freedom to select his opponent from a pool of influential pastors, including Joel Osteen, Tony Evans, Charles Stanley, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll and others. For Warren, the choice was easy. “I think Mark is all talk,” Warren told MSN. “I think I can take him.”
Mark Driscoll, the lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., and bestselling author, agreed to the match up with the purpose-driven pugilist. “It won’t go two rounds,” Driscoll told the Washington Post. “I’m all for church unity, but once I step foot in the octagon — I mean, ring — he’s gonna wish he never left Lake Forest. He should have picked someone skinny like Osteen, but he chose a beefy hipster with anger issues,” Driscoll said, smiling.
Driscoll will reportedly receive $75,000 to go to the charity of his choice. It’s not public which charity Warren or Driscoll will represent in their celebrity boxing match; both are still deciding.
To prepare for the match, both contenders will be trained by professionals for a three-week boot camp before the season premiere. Warren will be training in L.A. with Floyd Mayweather, a five-division world champion who has won eight world titles. Driscoll will train in Seattle with Nonito Donaire, ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s “best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet” list.
There’s also a surprising twist to the story. You could call it the knockout punch. Read more here.