I’ve been an avid fan of boxing for fitness for years, so when the chance to put that love to the test came up, I jumped on it. I was one of several music industry members who trained for and fought in the Red Carpet Rumble last year, in support of the Unison Benevolent fund. Now, nearly a year to the day of that night, and another unique boxing tournament was brought to my attention: the Canadian debut of Bartender Boxing, presented by Tequila Cazadores. On September 19th, contenders from the 514 and the 416 faced off in the ring for Bartender Boxing Round 4: Toronto vs. Montreal, the ultimate Canadian bar industry fight night.
*photos by Mark Tomaras
Founded in 2014 by global liquor brand ambassador and certified boxing coach, Raj Nagra, the Bartender Boxing Organization’s mission is to promote health and wellness for Bartenders through the scientific yet elegant sport of boxing. The Bartender Boxing Organization (BBO) also works to raise funds and awareness for local and national charities through their Fight Nights and events. In 2018, BBO expanded into Canada, with bartenders in Toronto and Montreal joining in and training for fights in their respective cities.
In May 2017, Tequila Cazadores came on board to partner with Bartender Boxing to sponsor their matches in the United States, and in Canada starting this year. This partnership was based on the belief that health and wellness need to be a bigger priority in the food and beverage industry. As part of the BBO program, all participants must undergo a rigorous training regimen to get them fight ready, and to help them build healthier habits in their daily lives. They all train with professional boxing coaches, and exercise three days a week for three months before stepping into the ring. They’re encouraged to incorporate running into their daily routines, both to train for their fights and to increase their endurance for those long and intense shifts at work. It’s an inspiration to the industry as a whole, and a great way to help its members get healthier and happier, while raising funds and awareness for this cause and others BBO works with.
Beyond my love of boxing, I also have a deep love of cocktails and spirits. I was new to Cazadores and their tequilas, and got the chance to taste some of their wares this past week. While all their tequilas were smooth, sippable and delicious, it was Cazadores Anejo that captured my heart. But what most impressed me most was seeing this nearly 100-year-old spirit brand come on board to the very modern idea of self-care and health and wellness, especially for the purveyors of their spirits. Through my tequila tasting experience at Toronto’s El Catrin last week, I met Cazadores Global Brand Ambassador Manny Hinojosa. I took the opportunity to ask him what inspired Cazadores to join BBO in the literal and figurative fight for bartender health and wellness, and here’s what he told me:
“Tequila Cazadores partnered with The Bartender Boxing Organization as we recognize a need for people in our industry to take long-term health and wellness more seriously as part of leading a healthier lifestyle. Late nights and bad habits can often lead to unbalanced lifestyles, so we wanted to bring health top of mind for people in our industry.
Frankly, there is no other sport that compares to the level of intensity, conditioning that boxing requires, I mean this stuff is hard. To be good, you need to sleep, eat and train properly. Boxing is simply THE sport.”
It’s like he was speaking directly to my cocktail drinking and punch throwing soul. Intrigued, excited and more than a little jealous of all the fighters that would be stepping into the ring, I headed to the Symes Building to watch the Toronto vs. Montreal Fight Night go down.
The Symes was filled to the brim with familiar and unfamiliar faces, typical of a media meets bar industry event. Cazadores cocktails were flowing freely for those who wanted them, and the Food Dudes were on hand to fill our bellies with delicious tacos.
The ring was surrounded by fans screaming for their faves win. We watched each fight with heart-pounding excitement as punches were thrown, hits were taken, points were won and lost, and champs were chosen.
While Toronto may have come out on top, with boxers from the Red (Toronto) team taking 3 out of the 5 fights, everyone who entered the ring came out a winner. As someone who knows how scary and exhilarating it can be to step into that ring in front of a crowd, I commend all the fighters for all the hard work they had done to get to that point, and for the amazing cause they were fighting for: wellness, overall happiness and themselves and each other’s health.
Food and beverage industry workers often let their health and wellness slip because of the long, crazy hours they work, and the too-easy acceptance of substance abuse and other harmful behaviors. Being a bartender or having a drink (or three) shouldn’t prevent anyone from being their healthiest, happiest and best selves. By giving bartenders the opportunity to focus on their health and fitness, BBO and Cazadores have set an inspiring and powerful example in their industry that I hope more will follow.
So cheers to Bartender Boxing and Cazadores Tequila for not only putting on an incredible event series in our city and beyond, but for their efforts to make their industry a safer and healthier one.
For a full list of contenders and winners (in bold) of the 1st Bartender Boxing Canadian tournament, see below:
|Brooke Webber, SPiN
Nicole Rogers, Blue Blood
Meagan Murray, TukTuk Canteen
Chantelle Gabino, The Drake / Chantecler
Meagan Hounsell, Liberty Commons
Monique Godinho, The Cloak / Marben
Tristan Joseph, Cibo wine bar
Dustin Keating, Track and Field/Bangarang
Rob Renda, Don Alfonso
Greg Moar, Bang-Sue Bar
Matthew Kopysh, Quetzal
Mac Lebioda, Aft
|Gabrielle Panaccio, le lab QDS
Valerie Mclellan, La Voute
Charlotte Domingue, Le Mal Necessaire
Merrier Idder, Kampai Garden
Pier-Yves Nadeau, Escondite / Le MTL resto bar
Julien Larocque, Kampai Garden
Francis Lefebvre, Gokudo
Simon St-Germain, L’Gros Luxe Vieux Longueuil
Daniel Boulianne, Cold room
Sam Turp, Garde manger
And if you want to make your own Tequila Cazadores cocktails, check out the recipe for their spicy margarita that was served at the fight!
- 1.5 Part Cazadores Blanco
- 0.5 Part Premium Orange Liqueur
- 0.5 Part Light Agave Nectar
- 1 Part Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 Slice Jalapeño
Method: Combine all ingredients with ice, sake and strain into a salted glass filled with ice.
Garnish with a lime wheel.
*This post is a paid partnership between Tequila Cazadores and Addicted Media Inc.