In 1990, real estate investor and businessman Joseph E. Robert Jr. started an event that many now call one of the premier social and fundraising event in the greater Washington area.
Fight Night has raised millions of dollars to support programs under D.C.-based nonprofit Fight For Children that help at-risk youth obtain better educational opportunities. The organization focuses on early childhood education, helping some 30 schools and thousands of children between the ages of three and eight in lower-income D.C. neighborhoods.
“Many of these kids come from really tough situations, who might just have one parent and not have stable housing,” said Keith Gordon, president and CEO of Fight For Children.
The organization has strong ties to Northern Virginia and Loudoun County. Loudoun resident and businessmen Fred Schaufeld and Chuck Kuhn are present and past board members, respectfully. Numerous key donors, including motorcycle and classic-car shop owner Alfredo Carlin, work and reside in Loudoun.
A chopper that Carlin’s shop built themed around the Washington Nationals is slated to be auctioned off during this year’s Fight Night on Nov. 2 at the Washington Hilton. The motorcycle, which features autographs by All-Star Ryan Zimmerman and others, was donated back to Fight For Children after being bought following the 2012 season, said Liz Warnecki, an administrative manager who manages Fight Night. Carlin said due to the Nats popularity, it’s a perfect fit for this years auction.
This year’s event plans to feature some mixed martial arts bouts through a partnership with the Professional Fighters League. Heavyweights Blagoy Ivanov and Caio Alencar headline the main event. This change is to attract younger patrons, said Gordon. “They might not be able to afford $100,000 for a chopper, but they can support a charity on this night that is for kids,” he said.
The crowd has been a “who’s who” of D.C. in the past with numerous visiting celebrities and performers, said Gordon. Boxers Muhammad Ali, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, James “Buster” Douglas and Leon Spinks, as well as John Legend, MC Hammer and Frank Sinatra Jr., were among the previous attendees or performers. Baltimore sport apparel company “Under Armour” started a multi-year partnership with the organization in 2014.
Gordon joined Fight For Children in 2015 as chief operating officer and was promoted earlier this year. Part of the lure in joining Fight For Children was to be able to spend more time with his wife and two children at home in McLean, he said. “I was traveling a lot through my previous jobs, and while that was often great, I missed being involved in a lot of my kids’ activities,” he said. “I also get to work for an organization that is helping those who really need it.”