Aberdeen’s Lee McAllister insists the devastating poverty he witnessed during the Covid-19 lockdown inspired him to deliver Britain’s first free professional boxing show.
McAllister and his team at Assassin Health and Fitness Village fed more than 2,000 families in the North-east during the lockdown.
The multiple title boxing champion, 38, found it ‘heart breaking’ that so many parents were struggling to feed their children during the pandemic.
McAllister will deliver that party on Saturday with the ‘It’s A Knockout’ event at Balgownie Playing Fields, Home Farm Road, Bridge of Don from noon.
With seven pro boxing bouts, live music and children’s entertainment the event is completely free and open to everyone.
McAllister said: “During lockdown when we were running food-banks I saw how tough it was for people who had lost their jobs, were on furlough or were self-employed and not getting any backing from the government.
“There were families with kids waiting eight to 10 weeks for Universal Credit to get any kind of money.
“It was heart-breaking to see families being left in the lurch with nothing by a supposedly rich country.
“We fed 2,007 families throughout the pandemic for a week at a time.
“It became an obsession for me because I was spending all my time on the food-banks and didn’t have any time to spend with my family.
“If someone emailed me at night saying their kids didn’t have nappies I was up at two o’clock in the morning to go to the gym for a parcel to then drop off at their door.
“If I do something it is all or nothing.”
McAllister was so moved by the poverty he witnessed he made a pledge to deliver a free party that everyone can enjoy.
He said: “What I saw during that time inspired me to provide a party to get the community back together and give them something to look forward to that doesn’t cost them a penny.
“There is no-one who has to come to the event and has to worry about what they are spending on the day. Come and enjoy everything for free.
“Hopefully this can help everyone be in a stronger position mentally to move forward from the pandemic. We want people to enjoy themselves.”
Free pro boxing show can inspire children
There will be children’s entertainment such as pony rides, face painting, bouncy castles, beat the goalie and magicians until 4pm.
Then the professional boxing will begin with seven bouts including Aberdeen boxers Nathan Beattie and Liam Allan.
McAllister hopes providing free boxing bouts will help inspire children.
He said: “If you look at a normal professional boxing event 90% of the time the minimum you have to pay is £50 up to £100 or £150 to get in.
“We are delivering this for free so that families that could never afford to go to boxing, especially in these tough times, can now watch the sport.
“If we can inspire kids and get them off their phones and I-pads and maybe get them fit – that is what we are all about.”
Aberdeen’s Nathan Beattie in action
In one of the fight highlights Aberdeen super lightweight Nathan Beattie will look to bounce back from a shock points defeat to Marty Kayes suffered in May this year at the Northern Hotel in a closed door event.
Beattie will face Ghana’s Ishmeal Aryeetey.
McAllister said: “You have to give Nathan his due. The problem last time was that he couldn’t get up for someone he had already beaten.
“It was all change at the last minute due to Nathan’s opponent pulling out.
“It can be a lot of stress and pressure with a late change.
“The first thing Nathan said when he returned to training after that loss was he wanted to face someone that comes to fight so he can get a buzz to go and perform. He has that with this bout.”
Rising city heavyweight faces tough test
Aberdeen heavyweight Liam Allan, who has won both his pro fights to date inside the distance, will face his biggest challenge to date when going against Lee Kellet.
McAllister said: “It is a big step up in class for Liam as Kellet has been on run recently and has won seven out of his last eight fights.
“This will be a learning process for Liam who said he wanted to fight someone at a higher level.
“He has certainly got that because Kellet will come to win and to fight.
“Liam will have to be on his best form ever.”
Aberdeen’s Samer Carol will also face Stuart Maxwell of Glasgow.
It’s A Knockout starts at noon on Saturday with the boxing beginning at 4pm.
Then from 7pm to 10pm there will be live music acts.