You’ve heard who they are and why they’re fighting. But now that we’re over the halfway mark until the big night on May 18th, things have started to pick up a bit. Training is getting more intense. They’ve been punched in the face. Most have had a bloody nose here or there, their diets have changed, and boxing is becoming an everyday part of their lives. So we figured it was about time to check back in and see how things have been going. Matt Kilty has been putting in work at Firicano Boxing and below you’ll hear about his first time sparring and more about his experience with Haymakers thus far.

We’re halfway to fight night, how is your training coming along?
It took some time but I now understand more clearly what my trainer means by getting in "fighting shape". The training hasn't been easy and I had no idea going into this how much mental toughness it would take. There is as much training necessary about the way to think and keep a clear head as there is to the strength and conditioning and boxing skills training. I thought I was prepared going into the sparring/media day but I wasn't. Far from it actually, it was like starting over the next day. I read about the ups and downs in another fighter's blog and I identified with that, a lot. Overall it's been a non-stop regiment of disciplined nutrition, strength and conditioning workouts and boxing/sparring training. When I add the complexity of my work schedule, I've had to self-motivate and work out alone on occasion which is not easy when there isn't anyone else there to challenge you. When I look back to the start of this and how much I've learned about this sport, it's absolutely incredible. And I'm impressed with the sportsmanship and closeness of the boxing community, a lot of people giving of themselves to others. Overall, my support system has been incredible and there are a lot of people to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. And I'm forever thankful that my trainer and the other instructors at my gym love this sport so much that they are dedicating this much time of theirs to help me get ready, I'll never be able to pay them back.

What is your weekly routine?
A typical weekly routine would be a 1-hr morning strength, conditioning and boxing workout at the Firicano Boxing Bootcamp ( On alternate days I change it up with a Firicano Spinbox workout which is an intense 30min spin session and then an equally intense 30min boxing workout with bag work laced with various bodyweight exercises. Working around our work schedules, we generally spar 4x during the work week at night and those are mixed in with another 1-hr bootcamp. Saturday's are 10am Firicano Boxing Bootcamp followed by a sparring session.

How has your diet changed since training began?
After consulting with my trainer shortly after we began training, I engaged a sports nutritionist, Dawn Thelen ( who works with other Firicano clients. To get to fighting weight, I needed to lose 33lbs (so far I've actually lost 35lbs!!). I wasn't very knowledgeable about proper nutrition and I didn't want to be on a fad type "diet" and live a miserable existence for 4-months and then have all the weight come back after the fight. Plus I have to eat out often because of my work schedule. So I engaged an expert that crafted a nutrition plan specifically for me. I switched to a clean eating style which is virtually free of all processed foods (except for the occasional cheat) and I retrained myself on what to eat, how to eat and when to eat. I'm not counting calories and I'm not hungry and as a bonus, I learned how to order from a menu without setting me back. The piece I found most beneficial was the accountability aspect. Sharing pictures (very embarrassing/humbling), measurements, checking in weekly and being able to talk to Dawn and ask her questions at any time with nearly immediate responses was key to my success.

Tell us about your first time sparring, different than expected?
Not really, I mean I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't really afraid, I just got in the ring (I'm reminded in a joking way all the time about how cocky I was) and gave it my best. My best at that time wasn't very good. I knew I'd be winded because I wasn't in shape when I first started sparring. Now if you asked me if sparring is different now compared to when I first started I'd say yes absolutely, night and day different. My corner would constantly be telling at me to "box" not "brawl". We started working a lot on footwork and the boxing started to improve. I have a long way to go still but I have an incredibly dedicated team working with me to help me get there. I've loved boxing since I was a kid but I'll tell you that one of the best things that have come out of this is my new appreciation for the real boxers, both amateur, and pro, that do this with higher aspirations. They work so hard, for so long, in the shadows with nobody to cheer them on. They are willed by their desire to succeed and they are amazing. Now when I watch boxing, I have a totally different view of the sport and its that much more enjoyable.

What has been the most challenging part of sticking to the routine and training so far?
I'm not sure, nothing specific, just all of it. It’s a grind. Some days are great and some not so much. It really comes back to the mental aspect of this and making sure I stay out of my own head.

What does your family think of your participation?
It depends on who we're talking about but generally, they're all excited for me. The kids (I have 4 beautiful daughters) sure wish they could be there and are looking forward to seeing some video afterward. I'm fighting Paul Palandjian. If I were him I'd watch out because if he hits me too hard he's going to have to answer to my wife. She won't take too kindly to him hitting me and I'd rather fight Paul than her. So I guess I better work hard on my slips and unders! All joking aside, my wife has made this so much easier for me. She's been by my side every step of the way. She is working with the same sports nutritionist and is on the same clean eating diet as me. She also gave up alcohol, pasta, ice cream and all our other favorites (and we're big foodies). She's organizing a fundraiser for me. She's personally donating 2-weeks of revenue from her own business in the name of all her loyal clients. She listens to me complain about the aches and pains and ups and downs of training and just continues to encourage me.

It’s amazing how many people’s lives have been touched by cancer in some way - has there been anyone that has surprised you by their story?
I think the H4H Alumni Spotlight blog piece back in February about Chris Lewarne's story of his friend Adrian Rufo. It really got to me. I had to read that story several times just to get through it. Then I read it to my wife. Not realizing this was a story about an alumnus, she said, "I hope you're not fighting him." Just when you think your own story of lost love ones or those in the fight now is painful, you read about someone else and you thank God your situation isn't worse.

Has your initial inspiration changed since the start of your training?
Yes. Being in an actual bona fide boxing match with judges and all has been a bucket list item for a while. It's what drove me to do this. And thanks to Haymakers, I have this opportunity to combine my love of boxing and charitable giving. I quickly realized this was about more than boxing. And it was easy at first to draw inspiration from my families own dealings with cancer with the loss of my dad and my sister. But since I started telling people what I'm doing, I have been given the names of all sorts of people; people who've lost their battle, people who've survived and people fighting now. I'm fighting for all of them too. This is who inspires me and the list is growing every day: Bob Kilty, Virginia Connolly, Lorraine Kilty, Lena Bergin, Codi Ezekiel (in the fight), Adele Coppola, Sue Infante-Despo, Amos Gauthier, Joseph Masse, Nancy Lee, Jeanne and Paul Craigie (survivors), Linda Earle (survivor), Kathy Swanecamp (in the fight), Arlene Moreau (in the fight), Allyce Najimy (survivor), Julie Farren (survivor), the Passanisi Family, Jimmy Allen, Nana Enos, Luanne Barile (in the fight), Tricia Tor (in the fight), Jeff (in the fight), Eileen MacKay, Ann Gay, Gary Doak and Karl Young.

Donate to Matt or purchase a ticket to Rock 'N Rumble VII on May 18th  here!