Airdrie amateur boxers enter the ring for charity

WATCH ABOVE: Community reporter Deb Matejicka reports on the Airdrie Oilmens Association annual charity boxing event.

It takes a special kind of person to take a punch in the face for charity.

In Airdrie, there are 24 people who are willing to put their mugs on the line in the Airdrie Oilmens Association’s (AOA) fifth annual amateur boxing event to help raise important funds for local charities.

“They have the ability to give back $60,000 to $100,000 to charities when they need it most, and if that means they have to get a black eye, bruised nose [or] broken hand, they’re going to come back and do it,” said event organizer Cody Thompson, the head trainer at White Collar Boxing Company.

“The people who are willing to put themselves on the line to do that is a very rare breed.”

Close to 60 people initially signed on to enter the ring but after the first couple of weeks, nearly 20 had dropped out.

The rigorous and demanding training regime required to participate in the event took an early toll.

“The average combatant will lose 20 to 30 pounds throughout the 12-week process,” Thompson said of the intense training. “Basically, [the participants] get into the best shape of their lives and then come in and actually look like amateur fighters.”

By March, only 24 were left standing, earning the right to enter the ring Friday at the Palace Theatre in Calgary.

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The event is being held in the bigger city for a key reason.

“The biggest thing that charities in Airdrie really struggle with is that most of us live in Airdrie, and very few of us actually work in Airdrie,” Thompson explained.

He said the situation means that most charitable donations made by residents like himself, end up going through their Calgary employers, who will also often match those donations. That money then typically stays in Calgary.

Thompson said the situation forced the AOA to get creative.

“So we really stepped up to try and create events where we can really give corporate Calgary an event they can enjoy, and ensure some of their charitable dollars actually make it back out into the bedroom communities like Airdrie, where we need it the absolute most,” Thompson said.

Their plan seems to be working. To date, the event has raised over $100,000 for charities, including the Airdrie Food Bank, North Rocky View Community Links and the Airdrie and District Victim Assistance Society.

“That’s money that’s impacting a ton of families in the Airdrie community,” said the AOA’s Adrian Pruden.

He added that the event has sold out the last three years and is expected to do so once again this year.

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“Tickets will be available at the door [and are] limited to standing room only for the event,” he said. “I believe there might be some limited tables — it’ll depend on where things are between now and fight night on Friday.”

Ticket and event information can be found on the AOA’s website.