Boston is fighting back against cancer with the fourth annual white-collar boxing event ‘Battle at the Bay’ scheduled to take place on March 28, 2015 at the Dorchester Armory.
The brainchild of this successful annual fundraiser is Irishman, Mark Porter, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphona in 2005 but fought a victorious battle against the cancer.
Since being given a clean bill of health, the Donegal native has run ten consecutive Boston Marathons and raised over half raised half million dollars for various cancer charities.
“I feel very blessed to have been given a second chance,” the father of three said.
In 2011, a life long boxing fan that often helped promote professional boxing shows around the city he decided it would be fun to organize a charity version.
“I’ve helped promote professional boxing shows in Boston and just decided if I am going to do all that work, I’d rather do it for a good cause,” the cancer survivor recalled.
It didn’t take long for Porter to convince several of his friends from the Boston community to form an event committee including professional boxing matchmaker and manager, Mark Vaz
Vaz who works full-time in boxing has worked with numerous world champion boxers as well as matchmaking professional boxing shows that have been televised on HBO.
“Mark’s reputation and knowledge in boxing is unparalleled in New England. He has been an invaluable member of the team.” Porter said.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky from the get go with all the members of the committee, every single one of them have gone above and beyond to ensure that each year the event goes from strength to strength."
The first 'Battle at the Bay' was held in 2012 and was a triumph with nearly 1500 spectators from the Greater Boston area coming out to cheer on the fighters and help raise $60,000 for the Dana Farber’s Children program.
“It was a phenomenal success both on the night and in terms of the money we raised,” the Irishman recalls.
Since it’s inception, the boxing show which is held every March, has gone on to raise $130,000 for various charities and has become a popular annual fixture in the city’s social calendar.
Its success is due in part to the fighters.
Unlike other charity boxing shows, where professional fighters take to the ring, the contenders who take part in ‘Battle at the Bay’ are novice fighters who come from all walks of life. Many have never stepped inside a boxing club never mind a boxing ring in their life-time.
“From Gaelic players, construction workers, mothers, students, policemen, bankers, you name it….we’ve seen them all come through our training camp,” Porter says with a smile.
One of the main attractions for the participants is the opportunity to get in shape, learn how to box under the guidance of professional boxers and all with the knowledge that their efforts will raise much needed funds for local causes.
Recalling his own experience as a contender, Porter laughs “Mark Vaz trained me for our inaugural event. It was like he was training me for a world title fight. I hadn’t trained like that in twenty years.”
“I lost over 20 pounds, and was sparring 10 rounds a night with the other lads.”
Porter stepped into the ring with 42-year-old corrections officer, Dean Hardy,whom the Quincy based building contractor remembers well.
“I should have just boxed him, but he wanted to brawl, so what could I do?”
Chuckling Porter says“In the end there was no decision on the fight…although I think I had him.”
If you are expecting to see Mark back in the ring anytime soon, you will be sorely disappointed.
The Donegal native, who hasn’t fought since the first event, is pretty adamant that he will be staying outside the ropes this March too.
“After the first year, the event has continued to thankfully grow and grow but it means, on fight night, there is a lot of work to be done behind the scenes.”
“My focus now is preparing our fighters for their boxing debuts and ensuring that our spectators enjoy an evening of action packed entertainment.”
Anyone interested in participating in the 2015 event can still join up and all novice fighters will be provided with the adequate boxing training and skills needed to be fighting like real boxers in the ring come March 28.
Training will commence at the TNT Boxing Gym in Braintree on December 2 at 7pm. Anyone interested in taking part or would like to learn how to sponsor this event should contact: Mark 617-719-6729; Mark Vaz 508-245-0500
If you would like to be kept up to date with the boxers progress please like their page Facebook/Battle At The Bay