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White Collar Boxing another knockout for fans

Sweat flew, punches landed and bodies dropped – 2019 proved another successful year for the Airdrie Oilmens Association’s annual White Collar Boxing event.
Punches for charity
Corporate professionals and service employees got rough and tough March 22 at the fifth annual White Collar Boxing charity event, in downtown Calgary.

Sweat flew, punches landed and bodies dropped – 2019 proved another successful year for the Airdrie Oilmens Association’s annual White Collar Boxing event. Held March 22 at the Palace Theatre in downtown Calgary, the yearly fight night saw 24 men and women – including a considerable cohort from Airdrie – put their bodies on the line to raise money for four local charities. Proceeds will go to Airdrie and District Victim Assistance Society, Airdrie Food Bank, North Rocky View Community Links, and the CJAY 92 Kids’ Fund. While the dollar amount raised this year is yet to be determined, AOA president Adrian Pruden said the event was a resounding success, with more than 1,000 people in attendance. He said he expects the final tally raised this year to equal or better last year’s total of about $50,000. “We had a full house again – our fourth consecutive sell-out,” he said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what we’re going to have at the end of the day to donate to our local charities in Airdrie.” Now in its fifth year, White Collar Boxing has been AOA’s flagship charity event since it started in 2015. The yearly rumble in the ring sees corporate professionals and service workers compete in a series of three-round boxing matches. Participants train together for three months under the coaching tutelage of White Collar Boxing Co. in Calgary, according to Pruden. He said they are paired with opponents of a similar weight and skillset, to ensure each fight is fair. “We have these people train together for a reason, under a set group of coaches,” he said. “That enables them to build relationships and become friends over the course of the three months when they’re training.” While they may become friendly outside the ring, fighters don’t hold anything back when the bell sounds. This year’s bouts included a technical knockout, a referee stoppage and a handful of split decisions. Though many fighters leave the ring battered and bloody, Pruden said there has never been a serious injury at a White Collar Boxing event. “When they get into a situation where someone is at risk of getting hurt, no one is in there to damage or [cause] too much pain,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’re all congratulating each other and hugging it out.” Nearly 60 people applied to fight at the 2019 event, according to Pruden, but more than half failed to last all the way through the gruelling months of conditioning, training and sparring. In the end, just 24 stepped into the ring. “There’s also the anxiety side of things that is created, especially in the month leading up to the fight,” he said. “We don’t tell them who they’ll be fighting until the night before.” While most of the participants were new to combat sports, Pruden said they learned proper technique and developed a lot of strength and power throughout the course of training. “It’s more of a bucket-list thing, or a challenge to those individuals to see if they can step in and meet what’s required,” he said. “I’m proud to say everyone who has participated in this event…has really grown as an individual, and gotten into phenomenal shape. It’s really been life-changing for a number of people who participate in the event.”

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