An amateur boxing club that helps troubled youth is getting a little help from Vancouver’s scrappiest servers and bartenders to find a new home.
The Eastside Boxing club, formerly known as the Astoria Boxing Club, operated for years in the basement of the Astoria Hotel on East Hastings Street before it had to close, although the boxers still have temporary access to train there.
Head boxing coach Dave Schuck, a North Vancouver resident who’s volunteered for hours each weeks with the former Astoria club, has coached boxing for 15 years. He says youth change through participation in the sport. “Their grades improve, their self esteem improves and they start to be more respectful to their parents.”
He trains the youth at no cost, with the exception of their doing some chores around the gym. He also asks to see their report cards to ensure they’re keeping up their end of the bargain.
Determined to forge ahead, Schuck and other members of the coaching team reinvented themselves as the Eastside Boxing Club when the Astoria club closed. As word spread about the boxing club’s predicament, Tavia Cosper of Sense Communication and her clients in the restaurant industry decided to help. The result was a new charitable organization dubbed Aprons for Gloves, which wants to support and promote amateur boxing in Vancouver.
To raise money towards a new location for Eastside Boxing, the group has organized a unique event that will pit workers from the service and hospitality industries against each other in the boxing ring. The idea caught on so well more than 70 service workers, including bartenders, chefs, restaurant servers, maids, managers, maitre d’s and even a barber signed on to try out for the inaugural Aprons to Gloves boxing tournament, which will take place July 25 at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards. In a press release, Cosper described the event as a “tertiary-sector tilt; a foie-gras-fuelled fight night.”
Cosper told the Courier the response from the service and hospitality industries has been overwhelming. She added of the more than 70 men and women who tried out for the opportunity to box in the ring, about 30 will make the short list for training. The participating boxers will be chosen not only for their talent in the ring but also for their ability as fundraisers.
“It’s really important to help [Eastside Boxing] find a permanent space,” said Cosper. “The response has been incredible.”
Caity Hall, chef de cuisine at Pied-à-Terre on Cambie Street, is one of the aspiring pugilists prepared to trade in her apron for gloves. Hall, who turns 24 next month, boxed as a teenager but until recently hadn’t been in a ring for more than a decade. She didn’t hesitate to sign up when she heard about the challenge.
“It’s an awesome event for a good cause,” Hall said.
The chosen boxers will begin training with Schuck shortly and continue until the July event. Schuck said because of the work schedules of the finalists, he plans to volunteer his time six days a week to help them train. If chosen, Hall will wear special trunks and a monogrammed robe for the tournament. She will also get to choose a song, which will be played as she enters the ring.
Hall also has advice for newcomers to the sport.
“Protect your face and keep your elbows up,” she said.