Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Fighting and feisty

GirlFight organizers hope to raise $10,000 for Nellie's Women's Shelter

Muy Thai superstar Theodora Pistiolis trains at Hook Up Muy Thai.
GirlFight is back with a vengeance and ready for action.
 
Following the success of the first charity boxing event for Nellie’s Women’s Shelter in March, the second installment of the all-female fight card will feature six bouts of K-1 Thai Boxing on Dec 9 at the Great Hall on Queen St W.
 
The first event, hosted by Pink Mafia, raised more than $6,000 for programming for women and children, and organizers hope the second installment will be even more successful.
 
“We’re hoping to raise over [$10,000] this time,” says Pink Mafia Don, and Xtra’s own Xposed columnist, Anna von Frances, who says she was first inspired to raise funds for Nellie’s after she visited to learn more about their work. “The second I walked into the shelter I was sold. There was no way I was going to walk out of there without doing something.”
 
Meeting people who lived and stayed in the space forced von Frances to challenge her own stereotypes. “A lot of them are really normal women, just like you and I, who just happen to be in a rough spot,” she says. “It really touched me.”
 
Von Frances had already been itching to plan a women’s fight card that would be fun and glamorous. “I wanted it to be fun for people who’d never been to a fight or weren’t part of fight culture,” she says.
 
Ducking the trend of hosting amateur fights in over-lit environments with stale beer, GirlFight will feature raffle prizes from sponsors Puma, Heineken and Sudbury 99. And with the Great Hall’s vintage stage and hipster vibe, von Frances expects the night to be “beyond Thunderdome.”
 
“I don’t want foxy boxing . . . I want real fights, real chicks, so people come out and are like, . . . ‘That was the best fight I ever saw,’ and the fact that they’re girls is nothing,’” she says.
 
With those goals, it made sense to direct the money from women empowering themselves through sport to women who had been victimized. “I was kind of like, wow, if I could give this confidence to the people who need it the most . . . these are perfect together.”
 
Wendy Sung-Aad, development manager of Nellie’s, likes the juxtaposition — women in combat sport supporting women dealing with hardship. “We’ve seen firsthand how being physically able to defend yourself can really change the position of women who have been marginalized.
 
“Instead of seeing women as victims,” she says, seeing them challenging each other and physically displaying strength is “great.”
 
The event will be hosted by Hook Up Muay Thai and MCed by mixed martial arts fighter Robin Black. All proceeds from the evening will go to help build a new shelter for Nellie’s.
 
The Toronto shelter provides emergency care for women and children and is the largest women’s shelter in the city, with 36 beds and three cribs.
 
Nellie’s has begun planning for a new house to meet growing demand.
 
The shelter offers support to queer women and their children who are fleeing violence or dealing with poverty and homelessness.

The Deets:

GirlFight!
Fri, Dec 9 at 6pm
The Great Hall
1087 Queen St W