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Haymakers for Hope Brings Amateur Boxers to Ring to Fight Cancer

 Live the life of a pro fighter at Haymakers for Hope, a charity boxing event coming to New York City in November 2013 that invites first-time pugilists to take part and pairs combatants based on their skill level, experience, size and athleticism.
Haymakers for Hope
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MIDTOWN — It gives new meaning to fighting for a good cause.

The charity Haymakers for Hope, a boxing event for cancer research, is registering wanna-be pugilists through the end of the month to use the sweet science to raise funds.

"We've had a firefighter fight a hedge fund guy, school teachers fight scientists, two cops who signed up who happened to be the same size — we make it fun," said Andrew Myerson, a former Goldman Sachs associate and Golden Gloves competitor who founded Haymakers in 2011 with Golden Gloves champion Julie Anne Kelly. "We even had a former offensive linemen for the New England Patriots fight a trucker," Myerson added.

The boxing card, which pairs amateur boxers in three-round bouts based on skill level, size and athleticism, will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom before 1,500 fight fans.

Registration opened in early June, and those who sign up will have four months to train and fundraise before they step into the ring Nov. 14, replete with their own entrance music and intro-video montage.

More than 100 people have already registered.

Fighters with no boxing experience whatsoever are especially encouraged to join.

"You don't have to have played a sport in college or be a super-athletic guy," Myerson said. "You can be anybody and still box — get in the ring and fight for a cure."

Myerson held the first Haymakers for Hope event in Boston in June 2011. The first New York show took place at Roseland Ballroom last year and raised more than $320,000.

With this year's event at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Myerson and Kelly hope to raise $400,000 to $500,000, which would bring the group's total fundraising amount to nearly $2 million.

"There's no real demographic for who signs up," Myerson said. "We inherently have a diverse group of people who are going to come."

Myerson, Kelly and their team at Haymakers for hope will select 30 fighters to take part in 15 bouts, split roughly between 10 to 12 men's fights and three to five women's bouts.

"We base it on size, skill level, weight, age, and also your occupation," Myerson explained. "We don't want to put a personal trainer against a lawyer, when the personal trainer is in the gym seven times a week, and the corporate lawyer can only be there three times a week. We want compelling match-ups, we want fun match-ups."

Fighters, who will wear headgear, will have a ring doctor and EMTs to look out for their safety. The event is sanctioned by USA Boxing, the national governing body for Olympic-style amateur boxing. 

Participants will also spar with their opponents two months before fight night to make sure they are equally matched. A loose training regimen for first-time fighters is available on the Haymakers for Hope website, but participants are encouraged to work out with a trainer.

The main goal — in addition to raising money for cancer research — is making sure everyone involved has a blast, Myerson said, from the fighters to their cornermen and entourages to combatants' coworkers, friends and family in the crowd.

"We want to make sure that they don't have an amazing time for four months, then get pummeled at the end and have a bad experience," he described. "We want to make the entire experience and the day of the event really fun."

To sign up for Haymakers for Hope, visit the organization's website.