By Sophia Ricco
Bright lights lit up the boxing ring as the crowd roared for the 15th annual Long Island Fight for Charity, but the main event wasn’t just in the middle of the ring, it was the many charities and people this fight would be helping.
The Fight for Charity has become a staple fundraising event on Long Island, garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to support the Long Island Community Chest and other charities chosen by boxers.
This year the fight featured 24 local business people in 12 bouts as volunteer boxers. The Township of Huntington was represented by Grant “The Bull” Havasy, Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios.
“When we step into the ring, it’s all about Huntington pride,” Havasy said.
O’Mara is a seasoned pro who fought in 2015 for Fight for Charity. But for Havasy and Zaharios, stepping into the boxing ring to fight was a new experience that brought both excitement and some nerves.
“Coming here today has been a surreal experience, seeing the amount of people in there,” Havasy said. “It still hasn’t totally hit me yet but when I glove up and get my gear on, then it’ll hit.”
The night began with the National Anthem, which brought all the boxers to the ring to see the massive audience that awaited them. Havasy found the crowd motivated him to do better because he didn’t want to let down his supporters.
“It’s always good to have nerves,” Zaharios said.
The boxers were eager show off the hard work they put into six months of training.
“This is the most difficult sport, conditioning, mental and physical that I’ve ever done in my life,” Havasy said.
But the boxers admitted the benefits of fighting for chaity far outweighted the pain.
“I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m down 55 pounds and never been better… It’s given me more confidence in myself and I’ve made great friendships along the way” Zaharios said. “It’s been a positive adventure.”
The fight didn’t yield just physical benefits for the boxers, but a chance for them to fundraise for charity with a goal of $10,000.
“It’s not the normal way of helping out, it’s a fun and active way to help,” Zaharios said. “It’s something I’ve never done before but as long as it benefits others I’m happy to do it.”
The Long Island Community Chest directly benefits families on the Island who are in need of assistance with housing and other financial needs.
“It is such a special experience to see how the charities are affecting people,” Havasy said. “The money we give, actually impacts their lives and that was the drive to keep going harder.”