BRITISH COLUMBIA

Bartenders, Chefs, Servers Become Serious Boxers For Great Cause (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

06/20/2014 04:54 EDT | Updated 06/20/2014 04:59 EDT

After hours on her feet slinging drinks and serving meals in downtown Vancouver, Shaylen Washburn swaps her restaurant apron for boxing gloves to train for a few more hours.

She goes through an intense workout at least three days a week, two hours per day, along with other Vancouver servers, bartenders, baristas and chefs. Some have even quit smoking and changed their diets in the notoriously unhealthy restaurant industry — all for one evening in the name of charity.

They're training for the Restaurant Rumble, a boxing event where the city's serving staff climb into the ring to raise money for Aprons For Gloves.

The non-profit group, founded in 2012, uses boxing to help at-risk youth learn determination, motivation, and work ethic through demanding physical activity. If someone can't afford a class, the organization finds a way for that person to work off what's owed.

Aprons For Gloves is very close to Washburn's heart.

"Growing up in Vancouver and East Vancouver to be particular, I know lots of kids don't get an opportunity to go do physical activities, and I was there, too," Washburn tells The Huffington Post B.C.

"It's kind of nice to have a safe place you can go after school to get some mentorship and discipline, and someone who tells you you're doing good at something. You can see the change and positivity coming out of the kids once we get them in there."

This year's Rumble is an especially important one, because the money raised will help open a new facility. The former space in the notorious Downtown Eastside burned down last year, leaving the club with nowhere to coach and train.

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Vancouver Restaurant Rumble Charity Boxing

The non-profit has a new location lined up and hopes to re-open later this summer, says Washburn, who has been involved with Aprons For Gloves since the beginning.

Aside from boxing and physical training, Aprons For Gloves plans to offer after-school care for kids who need help with their homework — or just crave a little encouragement.

"There are a few young girls there, 13-year-olds, and they look up to me as a mentor," Washburn says. "So I talk to them about how their day's going and what they're up to and make sure they're not up to no good. They look up to me a lot, and I take pride in that."

Washburn is the Restaurant Rumble's two-time defending women's champ.

Anyone in the service industry can sign up for the event, but each contender must raise a minimum of $2,000 — as well as commit to training for three months beforehand — to get into the ring.

"It's really rewarding," says Washburn, who works at The Bottleneck. "You leave the gym and you know that you left it all there and you gave it your all. It's a lot of pushing yourself. It's a team thing because there's a bunch of people in the gym with you, but at the same time, you're fighting a battle with yourself and it's really motivating."

This year's Rumble takes place on July 23 at the SFU Fei + Milton Wong Theatre.

And what do you get if you win?

Washburn says, "It's just a belt and bragging rights, which is enough for me."

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