PODCAST: S4:EP15–Mary Kate Vanecko, Box United

Join us for S4:EP15 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Mary Kate Vanecko, Founder of Box United, sits down with our host, Roy Kessel, to discuss how Box United supports youth in various communities by giving their youth more opportunities in boxing.

Mary Kate Vanecko, the founder of Box United and a management consultant at Accenture in Chicago, discovered her love for boxing while using the activity as a training mechanism for varsity lacrosse at Holy Cross. She enjoyed boxing so much that she joined a boxing club at Trinity College in Dublin while studying abroad. By graduation, she got a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in South Africa at a high school that had no sports. She started an after-school boxing club for girls. She even met another coach who would train kids for free, and while visiting his gym, she was inspired to do more. By 2018, she founded Box United to support the South African community’s youth and give them opportunities in boxing, by holding fundraisers and even coming up with the Fight Like a Girl (FLAG) program.

Box United is a nonprofit founded by Mary Kate Vanecko in 2018, which works with different fitness communities across the U.S. in order to support youth boxing around the world. The point of the programs is to inspire youth, and help children thrive in stronger communities, and build a better world. Part of the nonprofit is a program called Fight Like a Girl (FLAG), founded by Mary Kate, as a signature boxing and leadership development program for high school girls in Chicago and South Africa, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Cape Town. It is to help girls discover their strength and fight for change in their communities. The program is a 10-week leadership development program using boxing as a mechanism to empower the girls.

Mary Kate Vanecko joins our host Roy Kessel on S4:EP15 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast


  • 00:00: Introductions
  • 04:20: Physical Ability in Sports & How Mary Kate Used Boxing for Strength
  • 09:30: Graduation & Fulbright in South Africa
  • 14:00: How Mary Kate Became Inspired to Create Box United
  • 19:00: Expansion of Box United
  • 27:10: Biggest Challenges
  • 31:00: COVID’s Impact
  • 36:00: How the Community Can Help
  • 38:10: SPN Bonus Question & Conclusions




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