Chris Anderson is one tough man, with one very soft heart.
The local mixed martial arts fighter and current Battlefield Fight League welterweight champion is using his winner’s purse money from his BFL 42 victory to help young Canadians in need.
Anderson made $2,000 at BFL 42 in Richmond last month, in his successful defence of his welterweight title.
Now, that money is heading east, to Attawapiskat, in the form of sports equipment.
“I have bought sports gear for the rec centre and the kids up there; all kinds of sports gear, like baseball gloves, hockey sticks, football, basketballs,” saidAnderson. “There are actually a lot more kids up there than I first realized, and the rec centre up there is in need of stuff.”
The plight of the youth in Attawapiskat has been well documented throughout the media.
A state of emergency was declared in April, after suicide attempts in the small First Nation community reached epidemic proportions.
Anderson’s philanthropic gesture is nothing new. He used his winnings from his March 2016 victory to purchase sports gear for the Alert Bay Rec centre.
“The (Alert Bay) rec centre doesn’t get funding. They had a lot of old, ratty gear so we bought them some brand new stuff,” he said.
In 2015 Anderson used a fight to raise money for a clean water well for a pygmy tribe in the Congo.
He fights “for a cause” every time he steps into the ring.
“I’m kind of random in how I pick. Usually I’ll see something along the way that catches my attention and I’ll go, ‘OK, that’s what I’m gonna do there,’ ” he said.
When asked why he is so selfless with his winnings, Anderson paused for thought.
“I don’t think there’s an easy answer for that, but I decided a long time ago … I had a little break, where I was too afraid to compete, or take a fight – I felt like the odds were always going to be against me, going into the city (i.e. Vancouver), so I needed a reason to do it, because I don’t necessarily enjoy the fighting.”
The community can get involved with Anderson’s latest act of giving.
Anderson expects to be faced with a bill of at least $1,000 to ship all the sports equipment. The less money he has to spend on shipping, the more he can put towards the sports gear, so with that in mind, he is putting together a fundraiser.
Anderson is hosting a dinner at the Wachiay Friendship Centre Wednesday, July 13, from 5-8 p.m., featuring a full meal, a silent auction, and First Nations dance performances as entertainment.
Anderson will be signing autographs and posing for pics with his belt.
“Dinner is by donation and all the money raised is going towards the shipping of the sports equipment,” said Anderson. “There is a lot of gear, and if I had to guess, I would say the shipping costs will be around $1,000. So we are trying to raise as much as possible, and any money we raise over the shipping costs will go towards more gear.”
Some of the companies that have already donated items to the auction include I-Hos Gallery, Graham’s Jewellers, 5the Street Florist, Onethirtythree Skateshop, Simply Timeless, Foxy Box and Finders Keep Hers Boutique.
“We are still collecting things,” said Anderson. “Anyone wanting to donate items can call me. And there are also other ways people can help. Anyone who wants to donate Canadian Tire money, we will take that and buy more gear. Or if they want to donate new sports equipment… and the shipping is the big one, so cash donations are really appreciated. Any money can be dropped off at Wachiay, through Kristy Bell.”