The Restaurant Rumble is in its third year, but still somewhat under the radar when it comes to awareness. In 2012, a group of Gastown restaurateurs got together to create a foundation set on improving the health and well being of women and youth in the downtown eastside. Aprons for Gloves was the result as staff agreed to take off their aprons and don boxing gloves in an annual fundraising event.

Last year’s event raised $100k and allowed the organization to fund a new gym where individuals who would not otherwise be able, have the opportunity to benefit from the exercise, mentorship and community that is inherent to the sport. It’s an exciting step for those who have been involved from the start, like Anna Farrant, coach and Director of Community Development.

“The event has allowed us to get to this point and 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 post secondary education, amateur boxing or … who knows.”

Farrant has been working shoulder to shoulder with this year’s crop of contenders since April to get them ready for their time in the spotlight. Training three times a week in the gym, it’s been a grueling few months, but she’s pleased with the outcome.

“This year is crazy. People aren’t leaving. Usually they thin out when we start sparring, but the caliber is high. Several of them started training a year in advance to get ready, and it shows.”

But, why do they sign up in the first place? After watching a friend box last year, Hanna Price reached out to Farrant for some one-on-one coaching that would put her in contention this time around. Working in the neighbourhood and sitting on the Board of the Directors for the Gastown Business Improvement Society, Price is deeply connected to the community and the cause.


“Sport has long been a transformative force in my life. In putting our bodies on the line during this year’s Restaurant Rumble, we have the honour of helping open the doors to the same benefits and community that sport has afforded us: confidence, friendship, discipline, humility, work ethic and an incredible amount of love.”

Fellow contender, Kade Lacasse, who will be representing Blacktail Restaurant + Lounge, echoes her conviction.

“I’ve followed Aprons for Gloves for three years and always talked about signing up. Time to walk the talk. Growing up playing competitive ice hockey, sport has always been a big part of my life. I know firsthand the positive effect that community, discipline, exercise and camaraderie can have on a person’s life and I’m excited to raise money for a cause that I passionately believe in.”

Each contender must raise $2,000 by July 24th to compete, with support coming from fundraisers held in the restaurants and bars that they work in as well as from their own network of family and friends. A few of the Gastown fighters have already achieved their goal, but you can still lend your support by checking the profiles below.

AFG-Sequence2     AFG-Sequence3     AFG-Sequence5

With the Restaurant Rumble still two weeks away, Farrant reflects on everything they’ve already accomplished.

“Through Aprons for Gloves, we’ve created this community. If I did a Facebook post asking for help doing demolition at the gym, fifteen people would show up. They’ve formed an informal mentorship group to support one another and the programs we’re ready to start running.”

So, could this have started in another neighbourhood?

“No. Gastown is the place. I’ve lived there and worked here for years and there’s nowhere else like it. We had these people who started at Boneta or Pourhouse, the rivalries between this chef and that chef. There’s something about character and intimacy of the neighbourhood and the changes that it has gone through,” explains Farrant. “It was the right place at the right time. It was the perfect storm.”

Jesse Moss – JD’s Barbershop
Reese Sims – Blarney Stone
David Attar – Guilt & Co.
Kade Lacasse – Blacktail Restaurant
Katherine O’Brien – Steamworks
Kyle Hamilton – Clough Club
Hanna Price – (F)ILM
Arnie Mitchell Guieb – The Juice Truck
Max Cunningham – The Portside Pub
Melissa Schneiderova – Alexander Gastown
Chris Dzaka – Alexander Gastown

For more on the Aprons for Gloves Boxing Association, visit their web site here.

You can also check out our previous post for more from Anna Farrant on the programs being developed here.