By Connor Beach
The 14th annual Long Island Fight For Charity main event featured a new group of Long Island business people battling it out in the ring for a good cause.
In front of a packed house of more than 1,000 spectators at the Hilton Long Island in Melville on Monday, Nov. 20, 18 boxers helped raise money for local Long Island charities, primarily the Long Island Community Chest.
U.S.A. Boxing sanctioned the nine charity bouts, each of which ended as a victory for both fighters. There was also a fight between two experienced amateur boxers.
Of the 18 charity boxers who participated, three live or work within the Town of Huntington.
Gregg “Long Range Strike” Aramanda, of Huntington, a 61-year-old sales director for GE Aviation, stepped into the ring this year for the first time since 2009, when he last joined the Fight For Charity. This year he fought against Smithtown actor and U.S. Army Airborne Ranger veteran Addison “The Assassin” LeMay.
Aramanda said, “I felt great; I fought eight years ago and now I’m back again. I appreciate all my fans coming out to support me.”
Aramanda added that he chose to box again this year because of the camaraderie and friendships he built with the other boxers.
In the seventh bout of the action packed main event, Eliud “The Vortex” Custodio, of Huntington, enjoyed the support of a big cheering section as he touched gloves against Jason “The Defender” Russo, who lives and works in Bay Shore.
Custodio, 40, the director of design and technology for IDC Publications Inc. in Islandia, learned about the Fight For Charity from his trainer and former charity boxer Laurette Holst. Custodio thanked his wife and family for supporting him, and, as a cancer survivor, praised the health benefits of training for a boxing match.
The ninth fight of the night may have been the most exciting and energetic as Kyle “The Real Deal” Burkhardt, who works as the senior director at real estate brokerage firm Cushman and Wakefield in Melville, went blow for blow with Mike “The Pitbull” Signorelli.
After the grueling battle, Burkhardt, of Seaford, said the opportunity was a great way to give back to our community and get back into fighting shape.
Long Island Fight For Charity co-founders Jamie Austin, Jeff Cohen and Matt Silver came up with the idea in 2002, and the event has since raised more than $1.1 million to benefit the Long Island Community Chest, which provides financial assistance to help Long Islanders recover from a variety of short-term financial crises.
“It was another successful night,” said Austin, who added that donations were still being tallied and accepted following the event.
He continued, “We are looking forward to the 15th Fight For Charity. We have already received multiple applications from charity boxers for next year’s event. Anyone interested in volunteering to box should sign up.”
Those interested in becoming a charity boxer can visit www.LIFightForCharity.org for more information.