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Boxing company Ultra Events raises £20m for Cancer Research UK

Boxing company Ultra Events raises £20m for Cancer Research UK

A little known boxing company is celebrating after raising £20m for Cancer Research UK.

Ultra Events was started by former fitness trainer Jon Leonard, 38, at a gym in Derby after he came up with the idea of staging  ‘white collar’ boxing matches. His aim was to raise a few pounds for charity while giving complete novices the chance to experience what boxing is like first hand.

In 2013, four years after Leonard started the organisation, he hit on the idea of partnering with Cancer Research UKFrom that point on anyone looking to enter the ring was required to raise at least £50 for the charity. 

In return, as long as they sell tickets for the show and raise funds for Cancer Research UK, he offers them eight weeks of intensive training for their event free of charge.

One of the organisation’s Ultra White Collar Boxing shows staged in London in May this year raised £76,368 in a single night, becoming its biggest fundraising show so far. Ultra Events is now aiming to reach the £25m milestone.

Last year the company staged more than 400 boxing across Britain in locations from Exeter to Inverness. So far almost 60,000 people have taken part in events organised by Ultra Events, which has now also added mixed martial arts, ballroom dancing, comedy, darts and Himalayan treks to its portfolio.

Leonard said:

“Reaching £20million makes me realise that partnering with Cancer Research UK was probably the best day’s work I’ve ever done. We were staging shows and raising money for various charities but once we teamed up with Cancer Research UK it gave us all a real focus, a real direction.

“Cancer is a brutal disease and it touches so many lives. The idea first hit me while I was standing on the stage to help warm up the runners at a “Race for Life” in my hometown of Derby. 

“A cancer surgeon came on and he asked all the women taking part to shake hands with the person to the left and right of them then said statistically, one in three of you will get cancer. That figure has now risen to one in two people. It was back then that I made the decision that I had to play my part in fighting this terrible disease.”

Simon Ledsham, Director of Communities at Cancer Research UK, said:

“The success of Ultra Events and the amount of money raised is phenomenal. We are so grateful to the organisers behind each event, every person that signs up to take part and the generosity of their friends and family who sponsor them. Whether it be boxing, darts or comedy, together they are helping to fund our pioneering research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

“There’s been amazing progress in the past few decades and more people are now surviving cancer than ever before. Thanks to research funded by supporters like Ultra Events, today 2 in 4 people survive – and our ambition is to accelerate progress so that within the next 20 years, this figure will reach 3 in 4.”





Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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