Saturday, March 17, 2012

Battle at the Bay - Amateur Exhibition Boxing Fundraising Event Dana Farber

The Cause

At the age of 37 and with 3 young children, Mark Porter received shocking news, news that far too many people seem to hear these days. Mark was told that he had cancer. Mark lived a clean life, and never smoked or drank, and all of the sudden his future and that of his family were thrown up in the air. Thankfully, following treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Buncrana, Co. Donegal, native was cured of the disease. Having escaped the grip of the disease, Mark thought about what he could give of himself to help ensure that others who may be diagnosed might have that same chance. A friend of Marks had done the Pan Mass Challenge to raise funds for cancer research, so Mark thought, “If he could do it, so can I.” Having raised $6,500 from people most of whom he did not even know, Mark asked himself how much could he raise to help fight the scourge of a disease that touches almost all of us in one way or another if he were to raise funds through his own connections. Mark ran the Boston marathon and also held fundraisers at venues like the Tara Rooms and The Holy Ground for Children’s Hospital and the Jimmy Fund. However, an idea that he picked up on while at home in Donegal got him wondering if a similar event would work this side of the water.

The Idea

Mark was at a White Collar boxing fundraiser, the purpose of which was to raise funds for a local sports club, while on a visit home to Ireland. Mark was impressed with the massive turnout of 800 people. On his return to the Boston area, Mark was chatting with some friends about it and the idea of holding a similar event as a fundraiser here was raised. Himself, and fellow Donegal natives, Paddy McDevitt, Eamonn Kelly, Peter O’Malley, and an American lad, Mark Vaz, thought it would be worth giving it a go and see how it worked out. And so the ball began to roll. It started off with the Donegal lads and word spread through the Irish Community in Boston about what was going on. As people heard about the event there was no shortage of willing volunteers to assist in the effort. Whether it was giving time, making facilities available, selling tickets, and most importantly getting in the ring, there was no shortage of willing helpers.  The effort went from being an idea of 5 lads to a broad based effort to make it happen. Thinking about the willingness of people to jump on board by just hearing about the event mark pointed out, “Everybody has been touched by this disease at some stage or another.” 

The novelty of the “White Collar” event is that the boxers are people who have no experience, or may have boxed in younger days and are getting back in the ring after many years out of it. There are 3 main gyms that have provided time and coaching for the novice fighters. Cyr Farrell in Quincy, Danny Kelly in Dorchester, and Timmy Stanton PNT Boxing in Braintree are helping to get the novice fighters into shape for the big night. There are some familiar names in Boston’s Irish community who will be jumping into the ring, and many are also associated with the local GAA clubs. The boxers are matched based on age, weight, and experience. Some tantalizing matchups inlcude; Eamonn Kelly (Donegal) v Benny McGettigan (Tyrone, McAnespies); Paddy Wanish (Donegal) v Marty Bogue (Monaghan, McAnespies); Mickey McBride (Donegal) v Niall Gallen (Tyrone, McAnespies). Mark, who did some boxing in his younger days, will be fighting as well as Eamonn Kelly, both fathers whose glory days are well behind them. “If people see us willing to get in the ring,” said Mark, “they might say to themselves, if they can do it, so can I.”

Eye of the Tiger - Eamon Kelly looks Ready to Rumble.

It will not be an all male affair either. Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh native, Sharon McGovern, and Denise Trimble will also be entering the ring to take on local girls Nicole Tranfaglia and Kim Driscoll respectively. Mark has particular admiration for the girls willing to give it a go. “It takes a lot of guts and nerve to get into the ring,” said Mark. “If a man gets a black eye it is almost a badge of honor, for a girl that might not necessarily be the case. All credit to the girls.”

If Belcoo native Sharon McGovern is as tough in the ring
 as she is on the field her opponent will be in trouble!
You will have to act fast as these are hot tickets. There are 2,000 available and they are going fast. Mark put it best when explaining why he is so willing to get involved with efforts to raise funds to fight cancer. “Because of Dana Farber my 3 kids still have a father. I want to do what I can to make sure that they can do the same for somebody else who might find themselves in the same situation that I was.” Mark also explained that this event is the outcome of the volunteer efforts of a broad base of people volunteering their time. One of those is a teacher from Quincy who never got in the ring before another person sold 130 tickets and there has been no shortage of people calling for tickets.

The Fighters

Niall Gallen, Paddy Wanish, Michael McBride,
and Marty Bogue feeling it at the gym.
There are the Irish and local Americans who have been in the gym getting ready over the last few months. Such was the enthusiasm at training that Ken Kileen had to withdraw after twisting a knee while sparring. The fighters have been training for the past several months for the big night and should be well prepared. In addition, everything from the gyms, rings, trainers, the venue, the bar proceeds, police, fire, medical are donated.  Marina Bay will not know what hit it next Friday night!

The match-ups are as follows (County, GAA club, Town, or Gym noted where known):
19) Eamonn Kelly (Donegal) V Benny McGettigan (Tyrone)
18) Neil ‘Brummy’ Doherty V Chuck O’Donnell

17) Lorenzo Rusconi V Tip Lydon (Culbert Boxing)

16) Shane O’Brien (Wolfe Tones) V Aaron Deery

15) Daniel Friel V Dan O’Connell (Traietti, Quincy)

14) Paddy Irwin (Waikru) V Derek Killebrew (Culbert)

13) Paddy Wanish McLaughlin, (Donegal) V Martin Bogue (Monaghan)

12) Sharon McGovern (Fermanagh) V Nicole Tranfaglia (Danny Kelly)

11) Michael McBride (Donegal) V Niall Gallen (Tyrone)
10) Mark Porter (Donegal) V Dean Hardy (Culbert Boxing)
9) Michael Roddy V Mike Browning (TNT)
8) Kurt Remlinger V Mike Earles
7) Dominic Papile (Qunicy, Traietti) V Pat McDonald (Connemara)
6) Caomhan Keane (Connemara) V Sean Kelly (Down)
5) Mike Carey (Wolfe Tones, Boston Irish Wolfeounds) V Brendan Hoarty (Brighton)
4) Brian Boyce (Donegal) V Dave Trainer (TNT Boxing)
3) Danny McDevitt V Anthony Haines (Danny Kelly)
2) Jim McAdams (Quincy) V Stephen Lafferty
1) Denise Trimble V Kim Driscoll

The event takes place Friday, March 23, at The Marina Bay SportsPlex, 260 Victory Rd, Marina Bay, Quincy Ma. Doors open at 6:00, first bout at 7:00. Suggested donation is $25/ticket. For tickets please contact: Mark Porter (617) 719-6729, Kevin Doherty (617) 435-5145, Eamon Kelly (617) 719-8799, Paddy McDevitt (617) 839-4900, Peter O’Malley (617) 833-8474, Mark Vaz (508) 245-0500.  Also check out the Facebook page, Battle at the Bay.

By Rory O'Donnell

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