Ringside For Youth: it’s for the kids

One thousand guests. Five bouts of amateur boxing. A lot of Las Vegas.

Fifteen volunteers. Two point five million dollars. A lot of kids helped.

These are the ingredients that make-up Ringside for Youth: Ottawa’s most unique fundraising event. Together they are a recipe of success.


ringside for youth; boys and girls club ottawa; ottawa senators; sugar ray leonard

Twenty years ago Steve Gallant, First Vice-President & Investment Advisor for CIBC Wood Gundy, knew something had to be done to save the Debra Dynes Youth Centre in the neighbourhood he grew up in. Tom Hicks, co-founder of JetForm Corporation, agreed. Together they combined their business expertise and founded Ringside for Youth.

ringside for youth; boys & girls club ottawa; sugar ray leonard
Photo credit: Sean Sisk Photography

Today’s recipe is the same as it was 20 years ago: dinner, amateur boxing from as far as the U.S. and a retired championship boxer as special guest. Many of the 1,000 guests are the same as they were 20 years ago. There hasn’t been much movement in the fifteen or so volunteers who are involved in producing the event. And the causes remain the same: the Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa and Beaver Boxing.

The only thing that has really changed each year is the celebrity. This year it was done up big! Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the greatest fighters of all time, was this year’s special guest.


ringside for youth; boys & girls club ottawa; sugar ray leonard
Photo credit: Sean Sisk Photography

“I can’t think of anything more special than to have him here for the 20th,” said Gallant. “He’s phenomenal. He’s just so gracious and a real sportsman.”

Sugar Ray did more than just deliver a key-note address. He told stories about his life growing up. Recounted fights throw-for-throw with every duck, slip and block. He silenced a room.

Another ingredient of this spectacular recipe is the live, amateur boxing. While I’m not a boxing fan, I have a growing appreciation for the sport. Especially since women’s boxing was introduced to the event last year. The bouts are officiated and counted on the athletes’ cards. Boxers train their hearts out as this is as close to the big stage as they will ever get.

Because of this recipe, Ringside attracts some of Ottawa’s most generous people. At any fundraising event that has live and silent auctions, it’s a crap-shoot. Let’s face it, no matter the city you live in you’re constantly being asked to support something. But there was something about this evening that was different. You could feel it.


ringside for youth; boys & girls club ottawa; sugar ray leonard
Photo credit: Sean Sisk Photography

Comedian Angelo Tsarouchas was in again from LA to emcee the event (he’s only missed one over the years). The first live auction item is always the same: a prize package that included a fight robe and a pair of professional boxing gloves signed by the celebrity. The bidding started at $1,500 as it normally does. I wasn’t paying much attention until I heard Ang at $7,000 – double what is normally raised for this item. I had to excuse myself from the conversation as an all-out bidding war ensued. It was up to $15,000 when Sugar Ray himself stepped back into the ring to announce he would throw in a free boxing lesson. The final bidding closed at a staggering $21,000!!

After that I knew it was going to be a good phenomenal night. The Ottawa Senators had donated a trip for 4 to an east coast game including travel on the charter. When the bidding finally closed at $15,000 Cyril Leeder, president of the team, quickly offered a second trip to the other bidder. Thirty thousand dollars in a matter of seconds.


ringside for youth committee; boxing; ottawa
Proud to with this amazing group of people

Once all was said and done, Ringside for Youth raised a staggering $200,000 to ensure some of Ottawa’s most vulnerable children have the best chance at success. I am incredibly proud to work beside such an amazing group of committed volunteers. Happy anniversary my friends.

This year I wore a hawt lil’ Tibi number from Rent Frock Repeat. If you’re looking for designer dresses without the designer price tag, consider renting one. Trust me, you will feel like you’re on the runway.

ringside for youth; boys and girls club ottawa; rent frock repeat; tibi; ottawa senators

Learn more about Ringside for Youth and the impact it has on youth in our community. Watch the video produced by one of our volunteer committee members.


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