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Brawl on Bay Street Picks Up New Venue, Big Sponsors

The popularity of the first Brawl on Bay Street helped spread the word about the second, which moved to a new venue, attracted high-profile sponsors, and saw its audience nearly triple in size.

By Erin Letson April 21, 2008, 1:59 PM EDT

John McMullen in the ring

Photo: Courtesy of Anitamarie Griffiths

Brawl on Bay Street II
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If Mario Lechowski is gauging the success of his Brawl on Bay Street II event on attendance, the numbers speak for themselves. Lechowski, the founder and coach of Counter Punch Promotions, held the first boxing event last year for about 200 people. Thursday night's sold-out event at the Arcadian Court—backed by sponsors like Grand Marnier, World Fine Cars, and Harry Rosen—drew more than 500 spectators to watch six fights between Bay Street professionals.

Lechowski spent nine weeks planning the event and training the 12 boxers, who had to apply to participate. “I don't want fights where anybody gets knocked down or where anyone's a laugh,” Lechowski said. “I want them to work to win.” All the fighters were licensed by the Ontario Boxing Association, which brought in four judges for the matches. The event is also insured in case of injuries, and a doctor was on site. Lechowski said having one of the participants back out soon before the event was his biggest setback, but he was able to find a replacement.

Expanding on the first Brawl on Bay Street, which took place at Moss Park Armoury last November, Lechowski included a three-course dinner and a live auction for the second time around. (People could also purchase tickets just to watch the fight.) Guests dined on a meal of stuffed chicken with roasted garlic sauce followed by fruit pastries topped with whipped cream and caramel at tables placed around the boxing ring. “This venue is more classy, and I wanted to make this something people could think of as a really nice event,” Lechowski said. Posters and programs profiled the fighters (including their age and weight) and featured a hard-to-miss logo of a bear and bull ready to fight.

Lechowski said the Brawl on Bay Street has grown almost exclusively through word of mouth, and the popularity has allowed him to secure sponsors. Part of the proceeds from the event go to Believe to Achieve, a charity focused on building self-esteem in youth and encouraging them to stay in school. The charity's motivational speaker, Spider Jones, served as the M.C. for the second time. The third Brawl on Bay Street is scheduled for November 6.

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