Lace up boxing

Lace Up Boxing Club will host a sparring exhibition in the lobby of Jean-Robert’s Gym on Saturday, after the event outgrew the gym’s home at the Aspen Airport Business Center, shown here in a file photo.

Lace Up Boxing Club's sparring exhibitions are moving to the lobby at Jean-Robert's Gym, after outgrowing their confines in the club’s home gym at the Aspen Airport Business Center.

The last event, dubbed Friday Night Fights, drew 14 boxers and over 25 spectators to the gym only slightly larger than the boxing ring which holds a capacity crowd of 40 people.

As a result, Lace Up is holding this month’s exhibition, dubbed Aspen Fight Night, to the lobby of Jean-Robert's Gym at 720 E. Hyman Ave., on Saturday from 5-7:30 p.m. Eleven local boxers, ranging from 11 to 44 years old, are signed up to spar.

"It was Jean-Robert's idea," said Arielle Gallagher, the head trainer and founder of Lace Up Boxing Club. Gallagher also teaches boxing classes at Jean-Robert's Gym.

It was an idea Gallagher and Jean-Robert Barbette started batting around months ago and something that had been on Barbette’s mind for some time.

"I always thought about buying a boxing ring," said Barbette. "I'm a big fan of boxing. I remember watching [boxing] on black and white TV."

Barbette practiced judo growing up and had a father who earned a black belt in judo. Barbette explained that he supports combat sports because of the discipline required, which is a deterrent to drug and alcohol abuse.

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"The original idea was to do something for charity. Get kids involved. Keep kids away from drugs, drinking," Barbette said.

Saturday's event will benefit multiple parties. The $5 door charge will help fund travel and uniform expenses for Lace Up's competition team. There will also be a raffle and silent auction to raise money for the Women's Empowerment Club, Gallagher said.

The Empowerment Club began three years ago and provides free boxing and fitness instruction to female high school students, Gallagher explained.

Subsequent exhibitions will have different fundraising themes. March's will be Golden Gloves and April's will be a fundraiser for Kristie Gray, who will be taking part in Denver's Haymakers for Hope, an amateur boxing event that raises money for cancer research.

Before they look too far ahead, Gallagher and Barbette need to ensure this Saturday's event is a success.

"We're hoping for more people to come out. It's an incredible space. It's going to be perfection. It's becoming less of a friends and family thing," Gallagher said."

Attendees can look forward to a "legit" experience, Gallagher said. The $5 admission fee includes eats from sponsor Brunelleschi's and drinks from sponsors Elevated Elixirs and Guayaki Yerba Mate. For $10, spectators 21 years old and up can watch the action from an elevated viewing area while enjoying beer and wine. City Council candidate Skippy Mesirow will handle emcee duties. And thanks to title sponsor Best & Co., fighters will be outfitted with new sparring gloves and be using new mats.

If all goes well, Gallagher said, there may be a Best & Co.-sponsored, black-tie boxing event in Aspen's future.