If you haven’t heard of the event before, you aren’t the only one, but that’s about to change. Aprons for Gloves first took shape in 2012 as a non-profit organization focused on providing community outreach through the sport of boxing. And, in an effort to build a gym where training could happen, an annual fundraising event took shape.
Aprons for Gloves was conceived by a group of Gastown restaurateurs who were looking for ways to have a positive impact on the community. Banding together around a shared appreciation for the discipline, camaraderie and athletics of boxing, they tapped into the neighbourhood’s pool of scrappy barmen and sassy servers who were ready to trade in their aprons and glove up for a good cause.
Anna Farrant started off as a volunteer coach that first year, working with would-be competitors who had never before set foot in a boxing ring. After a hugely successful event that funded the first programs, she switched gears and began working with youth and women in the community.
“It was an unassuming program that didn’t feel like outreach,” Farrant noted. “It was exercise that they could relate to, it was colourful and gritty and most of the people who got involved as coaches had life experiences that would allow them to relate, so there was a lot of relationship building.”
Unfortunately, the new programs were short lived after a fire in the building rendered the gym unusable. The team quickly regrouped and started looking for a new home.
“We lost a few of those connections that had taken time to build,” she explained. “The year and a half that we looked for a space was tough, but I was able to maintain relationships with people in both groups, keeping them in the loop.”
THE GYM TAKES SHAPE
In 2014, work began on a new gym space that is quickly nearing completion. In her role as Community Director, Farrant is eagerly waiting opening day and already has a comprehensive program plan in place.
“Our youth program will run three days a week after school and they’ll have an opportunity to stay and watch our adult program if they’d like,” Farrant notes. “There’s an informal mentorship that happens, they experience the team environment.”
WORKING WITH WOMEN FROM THE RAINIER HOTEL
The gym will also be a space for women from the Rainier Hotel and Farrant will be their coach. Working with them once a week in a non-contact class designed to give them confidence and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin, Farrant knows that the payoff will be big.
“They have a really hard time leaving the safety of the Rainier, even to venture a few blocks to the gym, so I will probably do a few sessions there to get things started,” she explaines. “The payoff is huge. There’s something about the camaraderie that builds them up. It’s challenging, but they do it together.”
As this year’s Aprons for Gloves competitors train for the big event at the end of July, Farrant is already looking ahead.
“The event has allowed us to get to this point. Now, it’s about creating opportunities. The larger vision is for a foundation that would allow us to support these individuals as they train. If we have a kid who wants to go to a provincial competition, we want to be able to get them there. If they don’t have proper shoes, we want to buy them. We see exercise as a gateway to a bigger experience that could be amateur boxing, post secondary education or… something bigger.”
For more on Aprons for Gloves, visit their web site here.