April 26, 2011
UFC helps high-risk youth
By TOM GODFREY, QMI Agency
High-risk Cabbagetown youth have the UFC in their corner after the organization kicked in $10,000 to help the Cabbagetown Youth Centre.
UFC fighter Sam Stout was at the Lancaster Ave. centre on Tuesday to offer some training tips.
The UFC will stage its first show in Toronto on Saturday at the Rogers Centre.
Tom Wright, the UFC director of Canadian operations, said $129,000 will be donated to needy groups across the country that work with youth.
“We have made a commitment to give back to the community,” Wright told 50 supporters. “We are reaching out to grass roots groups in different communities that do excellent work.”
Spiros Papathanasakis, co-founder of the then Cabbagetown Boxing Club in 1972, said some of the funds will be used to purchase new exercise mats.
“We are grateful that the UFC would want to help us,” Papathanasakis said. “There are so many things that we need that I have to ask what the priorities are.”
He said the floor of the centre’s gym was recently painted and refinished by volunteers.
Stout, 27, of London, Ont., said he enjoys stepping out of the ring to help young people.
“I am a very lucky guy and I want to give something to the community,” Stout said. “This gives me an opportunity to meet people and tell them about the sport.”
The five-year UFC fighter held a short training session for about a dozen area youths.
Snooky Tynes, of Cabbagetown Karate Club, said the centre offers many programs to keep young people out of trouble.
“Kids in the area need different activities to motivate them,” said Tynes, who was there with his four children. “We teach them to stay in school and stay out of trouble.”
Student Tyler Lehman, 19, said the refurbished gym will bring more athletes to the club.
“A lot of people come here to play,” Lehman said. “The place is a lot nicer now.”
Johnny Montague, 14, said playing sports keep him out of trouble.
“Most of us stay behind for hours playing basketball,” Montague said. “It keeps us away from the street.”