Get ready to rumble for children’s mental health when the second annual KO for Kids charity boxing event hits Niagara Falls in June.
The event, sanctioned by Boxing Ontario, will see participants join forces to fight a card of at least 10 matches in the name of mental health, with proceeds going to Pathstone Mental Health, Ronald McDonald House Canada and towards stem cell research at McMaster's Childrens' Hospital.
The matches will range in various weight classes, skill levels and divisions.
Competitors are currently going through rigorous training with professional boxers Mike Strange, Kim Rossi and Billy Irwin, co-founders of KO for Kids.
Last year, in its first year, the event raised more than $64,000 to fight childhood cancer.
This year mental health was added to the roster.
Strange said with mental health issues on the rise in society, and with more and more young people taking their own lives, it’s important to keep mental health on the forefront.
“As you can see, a lot of boxers are stepping up for it,” Strange said, pointing to a packed room.
Strange said the event has seen a lot of growth since last year, going from just four matches to 14.
“Everyone is stepping up — once the word gets out and they see what a great cause it is.”
Strange said for many of the participants it’s a nerve wracking experience, it being the first time many of the competitors have ever stepping into the boxing ring and competed.
“It’s a scary thing. It’s not like a team sport. You’re in there, you’re punching each other. It’s very nerve wracking physically and mentally … I know once it’s over I know they’re going to be relieved but it’s something that they’ll always say, ‘you know, I did that once. Not a lot of people did that.’”
One of the returning boxers, Tony Filice, a.k.a. “Latino Bambino”, said it feels “amazing to play for charity.”
“You do it for the kids, and you do it in front of your family. You know, my father passed away from cancer, so it hits home.”
Tickets and more information can be found at, koforkids.ca.