It took months of training, sweat, and a (few) tears, but the champions of the final match between Houston and Los Angeles contenders in the Bartender Boxing Organization (BBO) match that took place at the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail are finally here. Meet Chris Amirault of Otium Bar, Los Angeles; Mitch Bushell of Gwen Bar, Los Angeles, Jess Householder of Prohibition Bar, Houston; and Matt Nicchitta of Big Bar, Los Angeles.
These winners are the final four of the 16 bartenders from Los Angeles and Houston who were selected to be part of the Bartender Boxing program that trained and duked it out in local competitions for endless “street cred” amongst their bartender peers.
After 90 days of intensive gym and match sessions, an immersive educational trip to the Tequila CAZADORES Distillery, and grueling local competitions, four winners each from Houston and Los Angeles were flown to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Here, they competed in front of the largest gathering of bartenders and liquor professionals around the world for a chance to walk away with the championship belt.
Mitch Bushell from Los Angeles, one of Friday night’s champions, says, “I had never thought I might be able to break the cycle of drinking and smoking. I had never cared enough. But the motivation of being humbled on the daily to prepare for combat is unlike any I have ever had." Jess Householder of Prohibition Bar in Houston says, “The experience was life-changing and took me out of my comfort zone. I’m so glad I did it and would challenge other bartenders to do the same.”
The BBO program’s ultimate goal is to inspire a commitment to fitness, wellbeing, and sportsmanship throughout the bartending community. In preparation for these competitions, BBO officials and gym trainers worked with contenders on basic skills, conditioning, and a rigorous schedule of training three days a week to ensure they were fully prepared to compete. Furthermore, contenders were urged to do cardiovascular training on their own time between gym sessions and follow a recommended diet plan. In Los Angeles, the bartenders were coached by the well-respected trainer, Justin Fortune of Fortune Gym, and in Houston, the renowned Lou Savarese coached the bartender contenders there, ensuring each industry professional participating was fully prepared, educated, and physically and mentally ready for their fights.
Healthy living is of the utmost importance in the industry, and with the final boxing match, the cocktail community came together to promote and encourage active, smart, and beneficial ways of making one’s life better. Through the exceptional sport of boxing and dedicated contenders, this year’s BBO program is a successful start to the industry’s healthiest and most empowering programs for years to come.
“For many of the participating bartenders, it has been a life‐changing program,” says Ben Scorah of BBO. “We have been able to offer them not only a new discipline, but a whole new mindset and outlook on their daily life and overall lifestyle. It has made an extraordinary and positive impact on each of them and I feel honored to have been a part of their personal journey.”
Next up, New York and Chicago will kick off their rigorous training and preparation in August, with their final fight between the two cities’ contenders fittingly taking place on November 1st — the Day of the Dead— a day that sponsor Tequila CAZADORES celebrates with great pride. New York and Chicago’s local matches will be announced late summer 2017. Stay tuned for another round...