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Office to Octagon transforms paper-pushers into warriors for a cause

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  May 15, 2013 05:37 PM

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Brendan McKee O2O.jpg

Office to Octagon

Office to Octagon co-founder and fight night organizer Brendan McKee.

Next month, a group of ordinary men will transform themselves for one night into mixed martial arts fighters, battling not for money, fame, or glory, but to support children’s health and social change.

These men, most of them educated professionals whose day jobs rarely involve bloodsport, will compete in the first annual Office to Octagon MMA Fight Night, raising thousands of dollars to help support efforts to expand athletic opportunities for young people in the city.

Before they ever enter the octagon — the eight-sided fight cage used in MMA bouts — each of the 18 fighters is required to raise at least $5,000 for the Office to Octagon organization, nicknamed O2O.

Organizer and co-founder Brendan McKee said in a recent interview that funds raised at the event will help support local youth athletics organizations, including the West End House Boys & Girls Club in Allston and the All Dorchester Sports League.

“We’re putting ourselves in a great position in terms of having a sustainable impact and in really changing lives,” McKee said of the organization’s work with area athletic groups.

McKee hopes people will put aside any preconceived notions about MMA fighting, which requires intellect as well as brawn, he said. The martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in particular, is often compared to a chess match, he said.

“It’s about being able to think three, four, five steps ahead,” McKee said. “It’s a thinking-man’s sport.”

The fight night will take place at the Revere Hotel in downtown Boston on June 22 and will include passed appetizers, an open bar, and O2O merchandise for sale. There will also be live and silent auctions featuring trips and high-end items from such companies as SMITH & Plank, the Best Made Company, and BMW.

“It’s not going to be this big machismo-type event,” McKee said. “It’s going to be really well done, really classy.”

The night’s entertainment will include a short documentary film made by Emerson College students that will show the fighters’ 12-week training regimen, he said. Their preparation includes Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Olympic-style weightlifting, but also seminars in nutrition and injury prevention.

The goal of the video, and of the entire night, is to show attendees the dedication and discipline required of the 18 fighters participating, McKee said.

“People will come to a better understanding of what martial arts are and what they mean to people, what the training does,” he said.

McKee said the O2O organization is his passion, and though planning and preparing for the event has occupied much of his time since he left his position at the struggling downtown Union Gym a couple of months ago, he isn’t just an Office to Octagon organizer. He’ll also be participating in one of the fights.

“This is something I’ve always held myself to: you’ve got to live what you do, and live what you preach,” he said. “I wouldn’t feel right doing this and promoting this if I wasn’t going to get involved.”

Office to Octagon will take place at 8 p.m. on June 22, 2013 at the Revere Hotel in downtown Boston. For more information, visit www.officetooctagon.org.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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