Torontonians may have laughed at Doug Ford’s suggestion to team up our schools with the UFC, but the league takes its community service very seriously.
When the Toronto Star broke the story that Doug Ford was keen on the Toronto District School Board teaming up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, people were outraged: Promoting super-violent mixed martial arts to kids? But while UFC and the TDSB probably aren’t a match made in heaven, we were less interested in yet another Fordian faux pas and more interested in the fact that UFC even has a community outreach program. So, we called up Tom Wright, Director of Operations for UFC Canada, to ask him what, exactly, the “UFC Community Works” program is. Here are five things we found out:
1. They gave $10,000 to the Cabbagetown Youth Centre this spring
“The formal introduction of UFC Community Works was at UFC 129 in Toronto back in April, and we made a commitment that over the course of the year, we would contribute $129,000 to community initiatives across the country, and our first such initiative would be at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre, where we made a contribution to buy new equipment for their training facilities and their recreational facilities.”
2. They promise community outreach for each city they hold events in
“I joined the UFC in June of 2010; I was hired to open up an office and establish a presence for UFC in Canada. And at my opening press conference, I made the commitment that the UFC would give back to the communities where they held events across the country. When we had UFC 131 in Vancouver, we continued to put forward the notion of our program, and there we partnered with the Vancouver Canucks and their Canucks for Kids program and provided funding for various community initiatives in the Vancouver general area.”
3. Bringing UFC into the schools was never part of the plan
“There was this miscommunication that we were going to be ‘taking the UFC into the schools,’ which was never the case. And I don’t know if that’s how it was communicated to the schools, or if that’s just how the Toronto Star decided to report it.”
4. Public speaking was part of the plan
“We thought it was a great opportunity to take at-risk youth from certain parts of Toronto that have public schools in designated areas, and take them out of a classroom that held 20 or 30 and into a classroom that held 25,000, and allow them to hear stories from individuals that know a lot about discipline, that know a lot about leadership. And even though they come from an incredibly violent sport, they know how to control that aggression.”
5. Going to a UFC event might be safer than going to Glee Live!
“Many of our fans train in mixed martial arts, and you will find that fans at our events have less incidents that they do at other typical sports events, and even traditional concert events.”