Community helps Eastside Boxing Club rise from the ashes

Fighters train for the annual Aprons for Gloves fundraiser at the Eastside Boxing Club before the fire.

Fighters train for the annual Aprons for Gloves fundraiser at the Eastside Boxing Club before the fire. Photo: Eastside Boxing Club

A popular community boxing club on Vancouver’s east side is optimistic it will re-open by the end of November despite a devastating fire, thanks to the support of local businesses.

LuluLemon Lab, REMAX, CAMRA Vancouver, various clubs and restaurants, and a restoration company have all supported Eastside Boxing Club after the fire on Nov. 2 that destroyed its equipment.

The nonprofit volunteer club for at-risk youth and women didn’t have insurance, so they’re depending on Vancouver citizens and businesses to make up for the loss.

So far, sponsors have donated over $3,500, and some people have given pieces of equipment, such as punching bags, to the gym.

“We are really relying on the city to help us out and so far [it] has been really overwhelming”, said Anna Farrant, a coach at the club.

Personal impact

Eastside Boxing Club coaches, Jordan Bowers and Anna Farrant at fundraiser at The Bottleneck on Nov.10.

Eastside Boxing Club coaches Jordan Bowers and Anna Farrant at The Bottleneck fundraiser on Nov.10.

The club opened six months ago with the help of a fundraising program called Aprons for Gloves run by service-industry professionals.

Two boxing competitions had brought in $270,000 since 2012, which gave the Eastside Boxing Club the means to open its doors in April of this year.

The fire at the Woodland Smokehouse below the gym on Commercial Drive damaged an estimated $20,000 worth of equipment, and left the facility uninhabitable.

More than 100 people, including 30 youth, used the gym.

Shaylen Washburn, the two-time champion of Aprons for Gloves, was one of the members affected by the fire.

“The Eastside Boxing Club really meant a lot to me personally,” said Washburn, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as the boxing club.

“I was one of those troubled youth that I see coming into the gym now.”

Washburn expressed disbelief when she heard that the gym had caught fire. “All that stuff that we worked really hard for and people […] donated, it’s all gone.”

Reaching out

The Eastside Boxing Club has been spending the past few weeks fundraising, building awareness and reaching out to people in the community.

CAMRA, an annual Aprons for Gloves sponsor, donated $250 to the gym’s fire fund.

To do its part, REMAX is hosting a happy hour at their Main Street office on Nov. 29 and donating all of the proceeds from the door and bar to Eastside Boxing Club.

Community tweets support for boxing club

Fundraising activities

A showing of the 2013 Restaurant Rumble, the fundraiser that Aprons for Gloves organizes, was done at The Bottleneck on Nov. 10.  Cover was by donation and $1 from every beer went to the boxing club.

Successful fundraiser at The Bottleneck on Nov.10.

The Bottleneck hosted a successful fundraiser for the Eastside Boxing Club.

Lululemon Lab supported the club by posting a photo to promote the fundraiser at The Bottleneck on Instagram.

Despite the recent setback, the Eastside Boxing Club is not willing to go down without a fight.

The club’s members are doing their best to keep the momentum going and to not let the fire put a damper on their training.

“We meet outside the gym now on days that we would normally train and we train on the streets” said Washburn.

Thanks to the community’s generosity and support after the fire, the club has high hopes to have a temporary facility by the end of the month.

(This article was previously posted at thethunderbird.ca on November 20, 2013).