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Boston women will literally fight for a cancer cure at charity boxing event Thursday

"Belles of the Brawl V" will raise money for cancer research at the House of Blues on Thursday.
belles of the brawl, charity, boxing, cancer, fight for a cure
In Boston, so many women signed up for Haymakers for Hope events that they made an all-female fight: Belles of the Brawl. Photo: Provided by Haymakers for Hope

Those pushing for cancer research often use the phrase “fight for a cure,” and on Thursday, a group of Boston-area women are taking that challenge literally.

Thirty-two women will participate in a charity boxing event at the House of Blues, stepping into the ring to try to knockout cancer.

The event, called “Belles of the Brawl V,” is organized by Haymakers for Hope, a nonprofit that organizes charity boxing events for cancer research.

Those who want to participate go through four months of training to learn boxing fundamentals before they face off against someone similar in age, weight and athletic experience.


Fighters will go through three 2-minute rounds on Thursday to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other cancer-focused research and care facilities of the fighters’ choice. Haymakers for Hope has raised nearly $7 million for cancer research since its start.

The idea to literally fight for a cure came when co-founders Andrew Myerson and Julie Anne Kelly, a cancer survivor herself, were training at a boxing gym in New York City. Ahead of the 2010 Golden Glove amateur boxing competition, they realized that the training timeline was similar to that of a marathon.

Those training for marathons often fundraise, partially because it helps get them through the grueling journey, so Myerson and Kelly figured they could do the same. They reached out to Dana Farber, which set up a fundraising page for them.

“The joke I tell is that we vastly underestimated how much our friends want to see us get punched in the face,” Myerson said. “From there, I found a lot of friends saying to me that they would love to fight, they just don’t know how to get started.”

Haymakers for Hope breaks down that barrier of entry into the boxing world, while also empowering people on their own journey and getting people to partake in a worthy cause.

“It’s a very potentially life changing experience for a lot of people,” Myerson said. “One guy a few years ago had been in a car accident and his doctors said he would never walk again. For him to fight was an amazing experience — to show the world not only can I walk, but I can fight.”

Thursday’s lineup includes two cancer survivors, as well as orthopedic surgeons, restaurant owners, stay at home moms, nurses, chief operating officers and more. General admission tickets are $85 for standing room only, stadium seating is $135 and VIP packages start at $150. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

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