It was the first week of February. While most of the rugby community was deep into their winter hibernation, eleven Assassins were gearing up for
their first ever boxing session. While boxing makes for great cross training, these players had something else in mind. They had signed on to be a part of the second annual Fight for Charity. The inaugural event, organized by Assassin Daniel Strang, raised more than $24 000 for the Manitoba branch of the Red Cross. When it was announced that the second event would be held in support of Pan Am Place, Daniel put out the call to his fellow club members. Who would have the grit and determination to undergo 12 weeks of intense boxing training in order to compete in a Manitoba Boxing Association sanctioned fight? Who would offer up their time, sweat and blood to help raise funds in the battle against homelessness? The question went out, and the club answered the call. Shane Nobiss, Zach Unrau, Hayleigh Bell, Cassandra McElwee, Matt Harrison, Adam Setka, Megan McManes, Julie Navitka, Brenna McNulty, Bobby McKay, and head coach Jarett McLaughlin signed on to join the Fight for Charity. Of the 24 fighters 11 of them were from the Assassins.
Training got underway, and the Assassins buckled down to learn under the watchful eye of the coaches at Pan Am Boxing. Anyone watching the fighter profiles in the weeks leading up the event could note that everyone agreed on one thing: learning to box is a challenging and often grueling process. Thankfully rugby players are a special kind of crazy. Each of the fighters dug deep and found a way to make it through endless repetitions on the bag, countless sets of stairs, and the intense focus of sparring sessions. Even the coaches could feel it. This group of fighters was hungry for the win.
Beyond the fighters, the real story of this event is the charity at the center of it. Pan Am Place offers a transitional housing program for at-risk youth aged 18-29 who are experiencing, or at-risk of, homelessness. The program offers a supportive environment where youth learn about responsibility, community and discipline. Residents have more in common than just a troubled past, they share a desire to make lasting, positive change in their lives, and Pan Am Place helps them do it. Working on a merit-based model, Pan Am Place blends volunteer requirements, work or educational experience, and boxing at the club to help these young men work toward a better future.
The morning of the fight, nerves and excitement ran high. Participants gathered at Pan Am Place for a tour to remind themselves what they were fighting for. Walking through the residence was a powerful reminder of why all the time and effort was worth it. Then it was time for the Assassin fighters to make their final preparations and get ready to step in front of a crowd of more than 700 spectators to put their training to the test. They did not disappoint. Every one of the Assassins put on a show as only they know how. Regardless of the result of each bout, every fighter left what they had in the ring. More importantly, they helped raise $42 000 in support of Pan Am Place. With the hard work of the past three months behind them, the Assassins were able to join the black-tie party and send out the evening in style.
From our fighters to all those who fight against homelessness every day, we salute you. To our coaches at Pan Am Boxing, we are incredibly grateful for your guidance and support. For those who attended the event or supported our campaigns, we thank you. And for those who think they could be just a little crazy like us, we challenge you. Join the Fight for Charity. You won’t regret it.