Matt Thomas is the founder of Brawl for a Cause, a charity event that pits fighters in a ring to literally fight for a cause they believe in. Matt calls is “Philanthrotainment”.
The Full Interview
Learning While Doing
Matt says he leads a “double life”, working full time at Roadie while working on his non-profit, Brawl For A Cause where everyday people “get in the ring for the first time to literally fight for what they believe in”, Matt explains.
Do or Do Not There is No Try
First inspired by his college fraternities wishes to put together a boxing event for charity, Matt’s dream was shut down by the school administration and issues with the fraternities national organization. Determined to help a cause, Matt got involved with UGA heroes which helps with Hero for Children, an organization providing aid to children affected by AIDS in Georgia. Involved with these new charity outlets, Matt again threw out the idea for charity boxing. Motivated by the encouragement of the group, he figured out exactly what was needed and put together a proposal. He was shut down by the bureaucracy. So he decided to do it on his own.
Matt went to local businesses to garner support. Partnering with the largest gym in Athens, Omni Club Matt sought $1,000 and came away with a check for more than double his goal.
For the event, the initial goal was to break even through sponsorship. Matt came to the conclusion that if sponsors covered the overhead, it would minimize the risk. Realizing that if overhead was covered every ticket sold would go towards charities. Initially his event goal was to raise $12,000, $1 for every kid affected by AIDS in the state of Georgia. He made $6,000 and was pissed that he missed his mark of $12,000 (most charity events lose money in their first event). Learning a lot from the opportunity, Matt continued to fight forward. Bringing more than just an opportunity to raise money.
What allowed him to keep fighting? Matt hits on how impactful the charity event was. Telling the story of how he was brought to tears hours before the first event, realizing the culmination of all of his effort. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to create another event, but based on the feeling the first event brought so many of his fighters people were begging for more. Unsure if he wanted to create more brawls, Matt knew there was one thing he needed to do now, put himself in the ring.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Matt trained for weeks gearing up for the fight. Outmatched in strength and ability, he stepped into the ring trying to stay alive. Early on, he dislocated his shoulder. Somehow he came back to knock the opponent down and won the fight. After the fight, Matt realized how beneficial the fight was in allowing him to find himself. He learned so much from the fight, that he had to create more BrawlForaCause events so that others could feel the same experience.
After college, Matt pursued law school for a period of time, before eventually leaving to focus on Braw For a Cause, auditioning for SharkTank. After the SharkTank experience he teamed up with his friend, Matthew Marshall to pursue a digital marketing/web design firm where he generated thousands of dollars in sales for their consulting work. After making the sales, he realized he had absolutely no interest in doing the work involved, the work he sold! So he left.
He learned a lot from the Shark Tank experience and the sales role, mainly that he wanted to learn more before striking out on his own. He needed to learn how to work.
Where Is BrawlForACause Now?
Most recently, Brawl for a Cause has grown as Matt has moved on to young adulthood, now acting as a philanthropic gala, black tie optional event. Some guests roll up in lemo’s decked out in tuxedos, and ballroom dresses, gambiling and drinking as the fights go on, the event has the whole 9. He had created a young professionals event that attracted all. iHeart Radio was even involved, having 2 hosts duke it out for charity. Some amazing people showed up, like Ashley Hessletine from @BrosBeingBasic on Instagram, and comedian Ronndell Smith.
22 volunteers helped put together the event. Matt reminisces on how amazing it is that 22 people volunteer their precious time for the event.
Matthew Marshall, co-founder of New Story Charity
Kabbage: An online small business loan provider
We talk about why he became a 501(c)3 non-profit, instead of making it a for-profit company.
His boxing coach Ramon Hayes
Quote on Matt’s mind “Do or do not, there is no try” If you try, you are assuming a degree of failure
“the glory of god is man fully alive”. If you are unsatisfied with any part of your life, you aren’t fully alive.
We talked about Matt’s IG account @MattThomas_Fit. He grew the account after being bed ridden following shoulder reconstruction surgery, and grew the account from 0-10,000 in 5 months. Stay tuned into the end of the show to hear Matt’s tips.
Matt is in the Tim Ferriss tribe, and loves everything he puts out having read his books and listened to his podcasts. He is currently reading Vagabonding by Rolff Potts.
Matt called out Bryan Wish on the show, featured on Episode 10 of the podcast, founder of The Wish Dish
Follow Matt on Instagram @MattThomas and his fitness Instagram (that he grew from the recovery bed) @MattThomas_Fit. Also checkout @BrawlForACause on IG and on Facebook.
Quotes From the Show
“If you have a passion, don’t just let it be an idea” Find a job that will help you move towards the goal, find opportunities to learn. Put time and effort into making it a reality. Either by learning from others, or dropping everything and going all in.
“We need more people fighting for what they believe in”
“I wanted this more than I wanted the pain to stop”
“Philanthrotainment, the combination of philanthropy and entertainment”
“rocky was my gateway drug into boxing”
“I did so much more learning outside of the classroom than inside”
“college teaches you how to learn, not what to learn”
“I highly recommend startups as a form of business school”
“I want people to feel good while they do good”