Wall Streeters Duke It Out for Charity

Financial players duked it out for charity at the Extell-sponsored boxing championship.

By Kathy Ritchie November 5, 2007, 12:46 PM EST

Doubledown Media's fight night.

Photo: Joe Fornabaio for BizBash

Extell Wall Street Boxing Charity Championship
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On Thursday night, 900 financial types gathered at the Hammerstein Ballroom for the Extell Wall Street Boxing Charity Championship staged by Doubledown Media, publisher of Trader Monthly, Dealmaker, and Private Air. Representing big firms like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, 16 contenders fought one another to raise money for six philanthropic organizations.

Whether the Wall Street folks were waiting for an excuse to tussle or they're just highly competitive, the idea of a charity boxing tournament was a popular one, and the publishing company had no problem finding participants. Within an hour of reaching out to its database of readers, 80 wannabe boxers from Wall Street’s top firms and banks had signed on, and by the following day, there were 200 more. Because the amateur fighters needed to be sanctioned (a state requirement that involves intense and time-consuming training), the list was eventually whittled to 16, with eight alternates.

Planning for the event began in July, but leading up to fight night were weigh-ins and charity cocktail parties held at various properties from title sponsor Extell. Besides introducing potential buyers to Extell's luxury condominiums, the mini-events also helped Doubledown Media overcome a significant hurdle: convincing advertisers to become sponsors.

“Some advertisers really got it and were like, ‘Yeah, I’m in,’ and others, [like] some luxury brands, didn’t see where they and boxing belonged in the same sentence,” said Rachel Pine, Doubledown Media’s senior vice president of branding and partnerships. “But when they saw that this is a guy from Bear Stearns who’s going to raise thousands of dollars for a charity that’s very close to him, that really got them over the hump.”

For the event itself, Pine’s aim for the decor was sleek and sophisticated, to transform the venue into a boxing arena that could rival the real deal. “With boxing, you don’t want to be too pretty,” she said. Inspired by boxing gloves, Pine used black, red, and white for the black-tie-optional event. Miniature Imperia Vodka bottles, attached to a small spray of red roses, topped tables covered in black tablecloths. “You’re a little restricted on flowers because they have to be low; everyone wants to see,” Pine said. “Orchids are lovely, but they get in the way.”

Before being ushered into the main ballroom, guests took in a cocktail reception and a silent auction. As they dined on pâté of eggplant and sliced tenderloin of beef, the first of eight bouts began. Adding to the evening’s sizzle was legendary boxing pundit and HBO sportscaster Bert Randolph Sugar (who served as M.C. for the fights), Imperia models acting as the evening’s ring card girls, and guest and celebrity judges who presided over the bouts. The boisterous night culminated with after-dinner drinks.

There were certainly no losers. Besides earning another kind of street cred, boxers took home prizes for Fight of the Night and Fighter of the Night, and Links of London provided gift bags for all of the competitors. Given the knockout success of the charity championship, Pine is already looking to next year’s brawl. “It’s going to be much, much bigger. It’s going to be an annual event.”

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