Ringside for Youth XXIV packs a punch

Photo credit: Timeout with the Twins

WATCH ABOVE: Timeout with the Twins were invited to attend Ringside For Youth, an evening of amateur boxing, a celebrity appearance, a silent auction, a live auction and a three-course meal, benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.  Their video includes highlights from the event and interviews with Steve Gallant, founder of Ringside For Youth; Jill Perry, the president and head coach of Ottawa’s Beaver Boxing Club and Gerry Cooney, former professional boxer and Ringside for Youth Ambassador.

For 24 years Ringside for Youth has welcomed thousands of guests to an elaborate evening of amateur boxing bouts, a charity auction, celebrity appearances and the chance to dine ringside in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

This year’s event, presented by Daniel Alfredsson, Mark Motors of Ottawa, Manulife Investments and CIBC Wood Gundy, took place at the SHAW Centre on Thursday June 7, 2018.

As guests were received in the Parliament Foyer, the musical talents of Juno Award-winning J.W. Jones filled the room and soft rays of the setting sun escaped from behind Parliament Hill, shining through the Shaw Centre’s iconic geometric window wall.

The sold-out evening began with a cocktail reception during which guests were given a commemorative pin featuring the Ringside XXIV logo and the name of this year’s celebrity guest, Andre “Son of God” Ward.

After enjoying drinks, photographs and conversation, the gathering moved into Canada Hall where tables were arranged around a boxing ring in the center of the room.

Colourful spotlights danced across the walls. Twenty-three banners showcasing previous years’ celebrity guests hung from the ceiling. An impressive silent auction and cigar bar were arranged on the perimeter of the dining area. Recognition of sponsors illuminated the JumboTron suspended above the ring.

Ringside for Youth founder Steve Gallant says his event is an escape into an unparalleled atmosphere in the Nation’s Capital.

“They key to the success of this event is like not being in Ottawa for a night. Not knocking Ottawa—Ottawa is a tremendous city—but the event almost has a Las Vegas type atmosphere about it.”

Photo credit: Nick Reynolds, NIXAOV

A three-course dinner was served after which emcee Angelo Tsarouchas introduced sportscaster Rod Smith to host a live interview with celebrity guest Andre Ward, a former professional boxer and undefeated light heavyweight champion.

Interspersed with live auctioning, the amateur boxing bouts began after dinner, announced by Derick Fage. The matches featured boxers from Ottawa, ON., St. Catharines, ON., Montreal, QC., and Gothenburg, Sweden. Jill Perry, head coach and president of Beaver Boxing Club and Ringside For Youth amateur boxing talent scout, takes pride in providing diverse and competitive bouts for which she scouts all year.

“I was in Sweden at a tournament earlier this year doing some extra training with one of my athletes and we started sparring with this girl,” Perry explains. “When I was watching the sparring I thought, this is the bout I want on Ringside. I saw it in February and I knew it. I just knew it.”

The Red team took the night with three wins and one loss in the fourth and final match. Andre Ward presented the bout of the night award to Kirk Thonson of Club de Boxe de l’est, Montreal, QC. and Jake Isner of St. Catherines Amateur Boxing Club, St. Catherines, ON.

Gerry Cooney, former professional boxer and Ringside For Youth Ambassador, attends the event annually since 1999 when he was the guest of honour.

“I come from a tough background, a lot of negatives…and unfortunately I didn’t have anybody else to help me along the way. Boxing did,” Cooney says. “This gives me a chance to visit with these kids, I work with them, I teach them about their lives and that they have options. If you can learn to box you can do anything, but most importantly to stay in school.”

This year’s event raised $156,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, bringing the total amount raised in 24 years to more than $3.3 million dollars benefitting at-risk youth in the community.