On the surface, the rough and tumble world of professional wrestling may not seem like a natural fit for children’s charities.
But for the last four years, Invasion Championship Wrestling has become synonymous with the betterment of youth’s lives in Kelowna and across the province.
On Friday night, several local kids’ charities will benefit from Invasion’s Break it Down wrestling show at Rutland Centennial Hall.
The eight-match card will feature the likes of former WWE legend Billy Gunn, along with other stars such as Loose Cannon Kenny Lush, Mad Dog Marty Sugar and Mike Shreddz Schramek.
Sugar, a promoter and wrestler who has been involved in past Invasion events, is thrilled to be part of what he considers a great cause.
“The charities is the big thing, I’ve been a wrestler for 15 years and the magnitude of what Invasion does, they have the connections, they have the wherewithal to get this done, to bring in money for these community-minded charities that need the help,” said Sugar.
“It’s always good to give back, it’s a good feeling to not just go out and wrestle and entertain, but to go out and actually do something good with our efforts.”
The brainchild of Kelowna’s Mike Chisholm and Mike Rizzo, the event has raised more than $100,000 for charity since its inaugural show in October 2013.
This year, Invasion split $10,000 among four local charities—Mamas 4 Mamas, Okanagan Boys &Girls Club, the YMCA Strong Kid’s Program and NONA (North Okanagan Neurological Association.)
“I can’t think of another organization that is so unorthodox in how they raise money, in a really good way,” said Candice Chisholm, CEO of Mamas 4 Mamas.
“They’ve brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities, they’ve entertained thousands of people and they’ve turned non-wrestling fans into wrestling fans, and you can’t teach that.”
As for the venue, Mike Chisholm said recent improvements to Rutland Centennial Hall should push the show to a whole new level this Friday.
Chisholm also gave credit to the Rutland Park Society for showing its continued support of the event.
“Right from the beginning they’ve been very supportive, and we’re really appreciative,” said Chisholm. “As this renovation has happened, I know they’ve done the floors, they’ve done the painting, the audio-visual stuff. This hall is an incredible place…we want to keep our shows in Rutland Centennial Hall moving forward.”
For Marty Sugar’s part, the veteran wrestler expects the environment and vibe on Friday night to be second to none.
“When you walk into Invasion and it’s packed to the rafters and you can’t even move, it’s a huge moment walking out there seeing hundreds and hundreds of people,” Sugar said. “It’s so much fun. (The wrestlers) just get to hang out and relax in a non-political wrestling environment and just have fun.”
Tickets are $15 each, $50 for four, or $40 for VIP and are available at kelownainvasion.com, or in person at Lake City Casino, Packing House Pub, Steve Nash Fitness, Player’s Choice Sportscards and Collectibles and Lorenzo’s Barber Shop.
Friday’s show at Rutland Centennial Hall begins at 7:30.