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Meet Pattianna Harootian of KnockOuts Giving Back

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pattianna Harootian.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I (Pattianna) founded KnockOuts for Girls over ten years ago after I began boxing and wanted to inspire girls to become empowered through the sport. We initially put on female boxing events to raise money for college scholarships for girls in need. We also (and still) teach boxing lessons to girls to empower them. We try to reach out to at-risk youth and anyone we think may benefit from boxing. Over the years, we have taught boxing lessons to girls, boys, senior citizens, children and adults with Down’s syndrome, those living at homeless shelters, blind children, foster children, and many others. We LOVE what we do!

Over the years, we have expanded our mission, and we are helping so many and doing such a variety of charity work that we are changing our name to KnockOuts Giving Back and our new mission is: we empower ourselves and others through giving back. We were just doing so many different things that we felt this was a more concise way to explain what we do. KnockOuts for Girls is now a division under KnockOuts Giving Back, and Christie Abbott is the director of KnockOuts for Girls. KnockOuts for Girls continues to empower through the sport of boxing via free lessons to those in need (and anyone who reaches out to us that we are able to help) and through Empowerment Workshops that focus on positive body image, health, and fitness.

KnockOuts Giving Back LOVES giving back and has a lot going on! Every holiday season we do a toy drive for foster children (next year will be our tenth year). This year, we got items donated for all the children residing at Hillsides group home in Pasadena, as well as many others living in Los Angeles. We were able to get one child that loves animals and wanted to go to the zoo a private tour of Los Angeles zoo. And we even set up for the zoo to bring some of their animals to Hillsides so all of the kids could experience a little bit of the zoo. Every spring, we have an essay contest for high school girls to win a prom dress.

The essay contest asks entrants to write about how they give back to their school, family, or community as we believe giving back is empowering. We combined the prom dress fundraiser with a Dress for Success fundraiser as we get so many dress donations and decided that we would help two entities with one fundraiser. We also have done Back to School Supply Drives, and we have collected personal care items to give to those living in shelters or transitional housing. February 27, we are working with my high school students to make dresses for little girls in Africa!

I am a teacher and love encouraging my students to give back. KnockOuts Giving Back helps as many individuals, groups, and charities as we have the ability to. When one of our volunteers comes across something they think we may be able to help with, they reach out to us, and if we can help, we do. Then we use social media to reach out to our many volunteers. We refer to our volunteers as our KnockOuts – anyone that volunteers for us and believes in our mission can be a KnockOut. We have some that volunteer once a year and others that help at every event. Some simply share our posts which is also very helpful!

Has it been a smooth road?
Putting on boxing events is a challenge! The California Athletic Commission, thankfully, worked with us but there are numerous requirements to compete.

Aside from weight classes (which is understood for safety), there are many other requirements that makes it very difficult to have events. All of our boxers are volunteers – it is a lot for them to go to the doctor for the many required tests and pay the expenses associated with this.

As well, it is especially a lot of effort when there is a chance their match will be canceled, which happens often if an opponent doesn’t make weight. There is a lot of stress and disappointment associated with the events. However, they are also a lot of fun, and we hope to have them again in the future.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the KnockOuts Giving Back story. Tell us more about the business.
I am most proud of our volunteers and their selflessness. We have so many volunteers all over the country – it is so touching how many give back. I love hearing from former students, co-workers, old roommates, and even ex-boyfriends! that see a post on social media and donate to one of our many fundraisers.

I posted about the dresses my students are making for little girls in Africa, and I have friends from as far away as Maine sending materials to make the dresses. This makes my heart smile. 🙂 We specialize in empowering others through boxing and giving back.

Originally, our volunteers were all female boxers (now anyone that wants to help out is welcome to volunteer), but we have a lot of women boxers that are a part of us, and we love to share with others the empowerment that comes from being strong! We’ve taught self-defense classes to help empower others.

What sets us apart is that we are strong, confident women that can kick butt!! I oversee all operations and coordinate most events. Christie is the Director of our KnockOuts for Girls division and also helps coordinates events. Michelle Pirraglia-Novello is our secretary and treasurer and Rebecca Hanson is our Director of Social Media. We all work together to help as many people and organizations as we can.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see us continuing to give back as much as we can. We love what we do and find ways to incorporate giving back into everyone’s very busy lives.

We are currently seeking to obtain 501(c)(3) status and hope with that, we will be able to grow and expand. We would love to speak to corporations and companies about the power of giving back, as well as partner with them to do fundraising.

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