Monday, January 23, 2012

Do taxpayers a favour knock each other out save us some money!

"Gentlemen, I want a clean fight this is not the House of Commons! No kicking, biting, spitting or calling your opponent a piece of s..t. Protect yourself at all times. Touch gloves and come out fighting."

In this ring! Trudeau and Brazeau hope to float like butterflies, sting like bees in celebrity boxing match


Grit MP Justin Trudeau couldn’t find a Tory who’d step into the ring with him for a celebrity boxing match to raise money for cancer research until he called Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau. But he didn’t know Senator Brazeau was a former military, kick-boxer who has his second degree black belt in karate.

By Bea Vongdouangchanh/Monday, January 23, 2012

You’d think it wouldn’t take much to line up a Conservative MP who would want the opportunity to punch Liberal MP Justin Trudeau in the face—even if it was for charity—but as it happens, it kind of is.

Mr. Trudeau, 40, has been boxing on and off for the last 15 years, but said he’s never stepped into the ring for a real match. When he heard about the annual Fight For the Cure ‘white collar boxing’ event in Ottawa which helps raise money for cancer research, he told The Hill Times that he “got immensely excited” about it and wanted to join.

“I thought wow, what a neat idea, what a great way to both raise money and attention for a great cancer charity but also what a great way to figure out how good a boxer I am and if all that training has been useful. So I said, hey, I’d be interested in doing that,” he told HOH last week. “We started talking, and the only other challenge then was to try and find an opponent.”

He said that the first person he asked was Conservative MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, Alberta).

“I figured Rob, he’s a very big, very bulky, very solid guy, also someone who has a reputation as someone who might want to take a swing at me, and someone who’s fairly pugilistic in his behaviour in the House. So I asked him,” he said. “He thought about it for a day or two and got back to me and said, ‘You know Justin, as tempted as I’d be, it’s just a time commitment, the training that I have to do would take over my life, and I’m not comfortable doing it.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine.’ I was disappointed because I was looking forward to it, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try some other people.’ ”

I then asked Conservative MP Jeff Watson (Essex, Ontario) who he said he didn’t think took him seriously with the request. Mr. Trudeau said Mr. Watson “laughed it off” and didn’t give him a straight answer. His next choice was Defence Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, Nova Scotia).

“I asked Peter and I said, ‘I was hesitant to ask you, Peter, because I think perhaps there might be rules against hitting a Cabinet Minister’s face or against them letting you into the ring.’ And he sort of bristled at that, and he said, ‘Look, no they’ll let me under the rugby pitch and that’s fairly violent, so I get to decide what I do.’ I probably said the right thing to get him to think about it, but he got back to me a few hours later and said no, and as we now know, he had a lot going on in his life at that particular moment and he just couldn’t take the time to train,” Mr. Trudeau said. “I totally respect each of their decisions and it’s not an obvious thing to do.”

But Mr. Trudeau said he then started to worry that he wouldn’t be able to find anyone.

“I was wandering around on those green buses saying, ‘Isn’t there any member of the Conservative Party who actually wants to punch me in the face?’ And that got a lot of laughs and funny looks, but no takers,” he said. “I actually sat down in my office with some of my staff who actually went through a list of everyone we could possibly fight and it was this whole production.”

He considered Conservative MP Ryan Leef, a trained mixed martial arts fighter from Yukon, as well, but said there was a weight class difference and he wanted to fight someone who also didn’t have experience in the ring. Finally, a friend texted him to recommend Quebec Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

“He said yes, right away. Actually his staffer said yes for him right away, not ‘I’ll check with my boss,’ it was, ‘Oh yes, he’ll do it.’ So, I should’ve been a little worried right off there,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But I said, okay, fair enough, and then Patrick confirmed yes he was in, and then belatedly I decided okay, let’s look up his bio and it was only then I realized that he was former military, kick-boxer, second degree black belt in karate, you know someone who’s very experienced in combat and someone who’s put me instantly in very much an underdog position.”

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Senator Brazeau, 37, told HOH that he felt “very good” going into the fight. He said he’s been training at Final Round boxing in Ottawa since mid-November, and he and Mr. Trudeau have the same trainers. When CTV Ottawa ran the story last week, the National Post had fun with the story and other media followed it.

“I look forward to perhaps touching some gloves on a Liberal chin. I know there’s potentially a lot of Conservatives who would like to see that happen, and they will have the opportunity to see that so I’m training hard and I’m taking this seriously, and I’m looking forward to the event,” he said. “All fun aside, it’s for a good cause. On the personal side, I lost my mom [Huguette] in 2004 to lung cancer so even though she may have lost her battle with cancer, I’m continuing the fight in her name. Putting that aside, this is all going to be good fun, and obviously if we can put a smile and a little bit of excitement on people’s faces during that night then it will be a job well done and if it can raise a whole bunch of money then even better.”

The fight, which Senator Brazeau said will be three, two-minute rounds, takes place on March 31 at the Hampton Inn Convention Centre. He said he’s confident he’ll be the winner.

“I’m not very worried. I’m very confident about my skills,” he said. “In past years, at that same event, some people did get knocked out and you got some bloody faces. There will be nothing choreographed, but we’re both being well trained and may the best person win, and I think I will be the one who will win.”

Mr. Trudeau said however that he’s also planning to “do very well” against Senator Brazeau. “The measure of a boxer is not whether you win or lose, it’s how you pick yourself up after getting hit repeatedly. I think I’ll be very good at getting hit. But you know what, I’m also a very competitive person. I plan to do very well,” he said.

Both Mr. Trudeau and Senator Brazeau said there were similarities between boxing and politics. “I think boxing is a little bit more honest at times because there’s a bit of infighting amongst politicians of different colours and stripes and they’re only words. Parliament they have Parliamentary immunity but in the boxing ring, there’s no such thing. There are obviously some rules, but we get to throw some jabs where they’re needed,” Senator Brazeau said.

For Mr. Trudeau’s part, he said you have to be “all in” when it comes to boxing and politics. “You can’t sort of hesitate, you have to really believe in yourself and your capacity to succeed. Otherwise the pain you go through and the pain you put your family through probably isn’t worth it,” he said. “I think boxing is [also] different from politics. There are consequences in boxing when you throw a low blow, less consequences in politics.”

The event also features cocktails, dinner and several other boxing matches and a silent auction. Tickets are $250.

Previous participants in the ring are lobbyist Walter Robinson and CTV Ottawa reporter Terry Marcotte, who fought in 2008 at the first event.

Final Round Boxing Club and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation teamed up that year to organize the event “to increase survivorship in our region.” Last year’s event raised more than $200,000.

“They sell out the Hampton Inn grand ballroom for 600 or 700 or maybe even 800 people so they do very well with this,” said Mr. Trudeau, whose  father and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had prostate cancer. “I know the kind of visibility that comes from having a couple of high profile political players in a very political town should get even more interest and even more donations.”

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