RINGSIDE FOR YOUTH…it’s all about giving back…
When Steve Gallant came up with the idea for Ringside for Youth in 1994, not many people thought it would be successful. But Steve was sure he was on to something, especially when Tom Hicks, former founding partner of JetForm agreed to participate and sell tickets. They were thrilled when 200 people showed up at the first Ringside for Youth to honour special guest George Chuvalo and watch some excellent amateur boxing. They were also thrilled that they’d made $15,000 for the Ottawa Police Youth Centre. Realizing that they might be onto a unique event for Ottawa – a special guest retired champion boxer along with showcase possibilities for local amateur boxers – they planned Ringside for Youth II to raise more funds for the Ottawa Police Youth Centre.
The Ottawa Police Youth Centre had opened in 1992 in an unused fire station bordering the troubled Debra-Dynes neighbourhood. The area was plagued with thefts, break and enters and a booming drug trade. Fifty neighbourhood kids signed up. The centre quickly became a focal point in the community. The crime rate dropped and the young members developed a sense of pride and ownership of ‘their’ centre. So successful was the centre that the Department of Justice used it as a role model for other centres across the country. This unique crime prevention program of providing a safe haven for youth to do homework or just have fun was lauded in The Globe and Mail, Macleans Magazine and Reader’s Digest. In 2002, the Ottawa Police Youth Centre merged with the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. It was a logical and cost-effective move. Both organizations were committed to building young lives in the community, providing a safe place for activities and providing leadership. The Ottawa Boys and Girls club is now one of the largest social service agencies in the city. It provides activities and life building skills to over 5,000 children and youth every year.
Now, heading into its 17th year, Ringside for Youth has raised over $1.7 million for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. The retired championship boxers have included Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Ken Norton, Gerry Cooney, Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran and Smokin’ Joe Frazier to name a few. Superior amateur boxers chosen by Joey Sandulo – former Olympic Boxer and coach of champions from Beaver Boxing – has guaranteed exciting, crowd-pleasing fights. This year, Lennox Lewis joins the list of former champs as special guest..
Ringside for Youth is all about giving back. This year more than 1,000 people will attend the event and help ‘give back’ for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. Needless to say, Steve Gallant, Tom Hicks and the entire long-serving Ringside organizing committee are thrilled.