Ringside for Youth packs $3.5M philanthropic punch in final round

Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa announces new scholarship to honour volunteers' great work
Editor's Note

OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Bruyère Foundation, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties, the Shaw Centre and Sparks Dental. Read their stories here.

 

Ringside for Youth has officially retired as the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion, earning its title after helping so many kids in our community.

Over the course of its 25 years, the popular boxing gala has cumulatively raised more than $3.5 million for the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

Ringside
From left, Jesus "The Demolisher" Estrada from Mexico City in the ring with Ian "The Wonder Boy" Newman from the Beaver Boxing Club in Ottawa, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

It returned for its final time Thursday to the Shaw Centre, filling the place with business leaders and creating a memorable ‘fight night’ full of philanthropy and fun. The evening featured "Sugar" Shane Mosley, a former American professional boxer, as this year’s celebrity guest. 

Some 1,200 guests dined in the centre’s Canada Hall while surrounded by banners with the names of all the celebrity boxers from years past. It’s no wonder the evening took some nostalgic turns; a quarter of a century is a long time. We're talking about an era when Jean Chrétien was in his first term as prime minister and when the Ottawa Senators were still a new team, with Alexei Yashin as their top scorer.

“Tonight, we wrap up Ringside after 25 incredible, incredible years,” event founder Steve Gallant, first vice-president and investment adviser with CIBC Wood Gundy, said while addressing the crowd from the boxing ring. “There’s not one Canadian city that’s had this many boxing celebrities in their town. It’s been beautiful.”

The Ringside Celebrity Guests have been world champions of the boxing world. Andre Ward, Joe Calzaghe, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, Roy Jones Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Buster Douglas, Irish Mickey Ward, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Angelo Dundee, Sean O’Grady, Larry Holmes, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Roberto Duran, Jake LaMotta, Ernie Shavers, Gerry Cooney, Ken Norton, Aaron Pryor, Scotty "Bulldog" Olson and five-time Canadian heavyweight champion George Chuvalo have all been part of Ringside.

Ringside
From left, Ringside for Youth committee chair Jeff O'Reilly, celebrity guest boxer "Sugar" Shane Mosley and event founder Steve Gallant strike the always-popular "dukes up" pose at Ringside for Youth XXV, held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Gallant spoke about the kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, and how they’re often labelled by society as "at-risk youth" or "disadvantaged youth."

“We at Ringside, we call them ‘youth.' We call them youth who deserve to enjoy the benefits that all of our children enjoy,” he said of the free weekend and after-school clubs, recreational, music and athletic programs offered by the non-profit organization at its seven clubhouses in Ottawa and summer camp. It serves 4,500 local children each year.

"These kids have tremendous potential for greatness."

"The kids have tremendous potential for greatness," said Gallant, who has met alumni who've grown up and gone into professions such as policing, law and accounting.

CIBC and its full-service investment firm, CIBC Wood Gundy, has been in Ringside’s corner since the beginning. Their senior leadership climbed into the ring Thursday to donate $100,000 to the BGCO in honour of Gallant and the good work he’s done in the community. 

Ringside
From left, CIBC Woody Gundy district branch manager Dean Usher with Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa board members Meredithe Rechan and Stephen Beckta, CIBC Wood Gundy managing director Mike Miller, Steve Gallant, Jeff O'Reilly and Ed Dodig, head of CIBC Wood Gundy, during the ceremonial cheque presentation to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.  Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
Ringside for Youth founder Steve Gallant, seen with daughter Monica Gallant, father Gord Gallant, son and CIBC Woody Gundy portfolio manager Jeff Gallant, and wife Janet Gallant, who was part of the Ringside organizing committee. Photo by Caroline Phillips

BGCO also announced its creation of a Ringside for Youth and Steve Gallant Scholarship to keep the memory of the volunteers' great work alive. The scholarship will be handed out annually to a deserving youth from the club, said board chair and Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta, who’s a proud alumnus of the former BGCO clubhouse in Centretown.

To further honour the enduring fundraiser and its founder, a call-out was made by Beckta for $5,000 donations to go to the BGCO, as a whole, for programming. Community leader and longtime supporters Darcy Walsh (Edelman), BGCO board member Mike Wilson (1251 Capital Group), Ringside committee member Janet Gallant, BGCO board members Meredithe Rechan and Roberto Campagna (Roca Homes), siblings Liza and Michael Mrak (Mark Motors), BGCO board member Gary Zed and Mike McGahan (CLV Group) were among those to quickly respond.

A total of $55,000 was raised just from that special call-out.

Ringside
These attendees and sponsors of Ringside for Youth XXV were among those who donated an extra $5,000 each to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa in honour of the charity boxing gala's final year. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Attendees included Tomlinson Group of Companies executive vice-president and co-owner Cindy Tomlinson Keon, whose family made a $1-million donation toward the major renovation of the BGCO clubhouse, a former firehall located on Prince of Wales Drive. It's now called the Tomlinson Family Foundation Clubhouse.

Former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was back as one of the presenting sponsors. 

The evening also featured live music by The Cooper Brothers. Band members Dick Cooper and Brian Cooper have been involved since the beginning with Ringside. They're members of the organizing committee, which has been chaired in recent years by Jeff O'Reilly, general manager of D'Arcy McGee's.

Ringside
From left, Ringside for Youth founder Steve Gallant with Colleen Mooney, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, and BGCO board chair Stephen Beckta, owner of the Beckta, Play and Gezellig restaurants. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
Ringside
From left, Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa board member Michael Wilson, co-CEO of 1251 Capital Group, with long-time Ringside for Youth sponsor Daniel Alfredsson, at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Michael Mrak, co-owner of sponsor Mark Motors Group, with Pawan Dilawri, president of Dilawri Auto Group, and Kevin Yemm, vice president of land development with sponsor Richcraft Group of Companies, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa donor Cindy Tomlinson Keon and her husband, Ryan Keon, with board member Meredithe Rechan at Ringside for Youth XXV, held at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, June 6, 2019k. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, James Baker, CEO of Keynote Group, with lawyer Andrew Godfrey (Kelly Santini LLP), and Keynote's Kyle Turk, Kelsey Mayo and Brad Ezard at Ringside for Youth XXV. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Ottawa-raised comic and actor Angelo Tsarouchas — who has emceed Ringside for Youth every single year but one — with Milan Topolovec, founder of TK Financial Group, Inner Orbis Inc., at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Tim Saunders, strategic advisor at Canopy Growth Corporation, with Mike Runia, vice chair at Deloitte, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa board member Sean Lundy, CEO of Lundy Construction, at Ringside for Youth XXV with Zibi Canada president Jeff Westeinde, who knows a bit about boxing — he fought last year in the ring to raise money for cancer. Photo by Caroline Phillips
ringside
From left, Ron Smith from RBC at Ringside for Youth XXV with Senators Sports and Entertainment account manger Josh Cardillo, sales and service director Christine Clancy and its senior vice president of sales, Mark Bonneau, who's also on the Ringside organizing committee. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
CLV Group president and CEO Mike McGahan, centre, is flanked by members of his team, Catherine Wood, left, and Tracy Ouellette, along with long-time Ringside for Youth ambassador Gerry Cooney, in the back. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
Maureen Graham from sponsor Tony Graham Automotive, with, from left, Ringside for Youth committee member Imre Rohonczy, Scott Elson and Griffin Rohonczy, right, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
Ringside
From left, Darcy Walsh, SVP and general manager of Edelman, with investment advisor J.D. Lees and Matt Capello, vice president at Capello Systems, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
Ringside
From left, Scott MacKinnon, Sarah Yoshida and Eric Ducharme from sponsor Manulife Investment Management at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

Business lawyer Debbie Weinstein, a partner at LaBarge Weinstein LLP, has never missed a Ringside. She first caught wind of it through JetForm co-founder Tom Hicks, who’s been involved with the fundraiser since the start.

“The first time I went, I told my husband I was going to be back at 10 o’clock that night. I got home at four in the morning,” she told OBJ.social.

“It’s got a lot of bang for the buck. It’s got great entertainment, great networking and a great cause.”

There’s one more thing that Weinstein loves about the event. “I can also smoke cigars.”

Not inside the building, of course.

Ringside
From left, Tim Hortons franchise owner Lesley Holmes with business lawyer Debbie Weinstein (LaBarge Weinstein LLP), who's attended every single Ringside for Youth night. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Ringside chair Jeff O'Reilly with Mayor Jim Watson — with a framed letter proclaiming it Ringside for Youth Day — and Ringside founder Steve Gallant at Ringside for Youth XXV. Photo by Caroline Phillips

After dinner, guests watched a series of fights, involving amateur boxers from Ottawa’s Beaver Boxing Club and from clubs in Mexico, Puerto Rico, New York and Montreal. The fighters emerged on stage, from a plume of smoke and darkness, and strode toward the ring, past the pom-pom-shaking Ottawa Redblacks cheer and dance team, surrounded by powerful music and flashing lights. 

The evening also took a moment to remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France during World War II on June 6, 1944.

Ringside has enjoyed a loyal following over the years, from retired American heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney as the Ringside for Youth ambassador, to comic and actor Angelo Tsarouchas as emcee, to guest announcer Rod Smith from TSN.

Smith, who grew up in Nepean, told his audience with great warmth: “I wish there was a championship belt that would wrap around all of you for everything that you’ve done for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. To the many people who have contributed over the years, who have volunteered their time to make this event happen, and to make this event the success it’s been, I applaud you and I thank you.”

Ringside
Celebrity guest boxer "Sugar" Shane Mosley makes his entrance at Ringside for Youth XXV. Photo by Caroline Phillips
ringside
Rod Smith, with celebrity guest boxer "Sugar" Shane Mosley, points to the banners displaying the names of all the former World Champion boxers who have attended Ringside for Youth over the past 25 years. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
From left, Jesus "The Demolisher" Estrada from Mexico City in the ring with Ian "The Wonder Boy" Newman from the Beaver Boxing Club in Ottawa, at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
OBJ.social dropped by the outdoor patio intended for cigar smoking, not that Neil Malhotra (Claridge Homes), Jeff Smith (Smith, Petrie, Carr & Scott Insurance), Jason Shinder (District Realty) or Kyle MacHutchon (Inverness Homes) would light up a cigar — or be photographed doing so at the risk of it getting back to their wives. Photo by Caroline Phillips
ringside
From left, Brian Cooper and his brother Dick Cooper, from the band The Cooper Brothers, have been a big part of the Ringside for Youth organizing committee over the years. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ringside
Ringside for Youth committee member Tom Hicks, who's been involved with Ringside for Youth from the beginning, with fellow committee member Sheryl Bennett-Wilson at Ringside for Youth XXV, held Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Shaw Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
Ringside
Ringside for Youth committee member Jill Perry with long-time event ambassador Gerry Cooney, at the Shaw Centre on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca