Fight night in Kelowna

Inaugural Kelowna boxing fundraiser proves to be a big hit at the Laurel Packinghouse.

A three-round bout between Cory 'The Omen' Baldwin (right) and Tom 'The Touch' Gaymer was just one of the fights at boxing fundraiser Thursday night in Kelowna.

Everyone still likes to watch a good fight in the boxing ring judging by the turnout and  palpable intensity in the air for the inaugural Kelowna “social” boxing fundraiser held Thursday night at the Laurel Packinghouse.

Twenty-four novice boxers each raised $1,500 and trained up to six months for the privilege of stepping into the ring for the event, co-organized by the John Howard Society, Central Okanagan United Way and UFC Gym Kelowna.

Marianne Dahl, marketing and events manager for the United Way, said the boxing event is expected to raise more than $60,000 from the pledges raised by the boxers, ticket sales and silent auction proceeds.

The close to 180 fans, the men dressed up in fancy suits and the women wearing 1920s era fashions, paid $200 for the boxing and three-course gourmet meal dinner package, while those who came just for the boxing shelled out $100 a ticket. Money was also raised from liquor sales at the bar and a 50/50 draw.

“You are never sure what to expect when you do an event for the first time but we are really happy with how this has gone off,” said Dahl, noting you could feel the energy from the crowd permeating around the Kelowna heritage building.

Dahl said 20 of the boxers were local residents, and the bouts were sanctioned by Boxing B.C. to ensure all the rules and weight requirements were followed by the book.

Dahl said the initial idea was to recruit local celebrities to fight but few had the time to commit for the training that led up to fight night.

“We had people come forward who I call community heroes to take on the challenge,” Dahl said.

“And to see how much money it looks like we’ll be able to raise is awesome…being a new event, that is new money for our fundraising campaign that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get. Hopefully we can keep it going again next year. “

Handling the announcing duties were the K96.3 morning radio duo of David Larsen and Tony Peyton, while local media personalities Gillianne Richards (CBC), Wesla Wong (Global TV) and Liz Flowers (Castanet) were the ring card presenters.