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Boxing nights raise cash and questions

Men-only events are a source of income for many communal charities.

    (Photo: Getty Images)

    One can easily appreciate the appeal to cash-strapped communal charities of staging a men’s dinner. The dinners — usually themed around a boxing bill at the conclusion of the evening — attract new and younger supporters, who in turn bring along non-Jewish friends and work colleagues. And it is not unknown for table hosts to invite leaders of their shul, rabbis included.

    The vast majority of guests are there to have a good night out, enjoy the boxing and back a worthy welfare or educational cause. But the atmosphere is laddish and alcohol consumption is significantly greater than at the charities’ more genteel annual dinners. The night’s auction will lean heavily on sporting memorabilia and VIP match tickets. “Entertainment” generally involves an un-PC, and unfunny, comic, heckled by the more inebriated members of the audience.

    Feeding into this boisterous environment, organisers will sometimes recruit provocatively-clad women from central London “gentlemen’s clubs” to mingle with guests and display the round numbers during the boxing.

    From a commercial standpoint, the logic is difficult to dispute. A pretty girl in a revealing outfit sidles up to your table and asks sweetly if you’ve purchased raffle tickets/put in auction bids/contributed to the appeal. Difficult to say no.

    The quid pro quo is publicity for their clubs. I’ve reported on dinners where cards offering discounts at their establishments have been widely distributed — and a stretch limo waits at the venue to take guests on to the club, post-event.

    Now, of course, whether guests pursue such an option is a matter of choice and conscience — we’re all adults etc. But should charities, particularly those supporting women and children, be linked to this?

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