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. Joe O'Brien has been putting in work at Nonantum Boxing Club 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?
I can’t believe we are halfway there. Training is going great. Talking to some of the other fighters has made me realize we are all in the same boat. There are days where I am ready to take on the world and then there are days that I feel like I couldn’t fight myself out of a wet paper bag.

What is your weekly routine?
I have learned that there is nothing routine about this…. But it’s going to get much harder now that lacrosse season has started. My oldest son Joey plays on two lacrosse teams and I am coaching my son Danny’s team in addition to playing in a men’s lacrosse league once a week. I’m hoping to make my son Luke (5) the water boy and daughter Molly (3) the team manager.

How has your diet changed since training began?
This has been a huge change for me. Before Haymakers I was a human garbage disposal eating anything and everything. I’m not on a specific diet but I definitely watch what I eat and am reading more labels. I’m not craving the sugars anymore and I am avoiding my old friends Ben & Jerry at all costs.

Tell us about your first time sparring, different than expected?
Just like everything else in this process sparring was much different than expected. I tried to block a jab and ended up punching myself in the face.

What has been the most challenging part of sticking to the routine and training so far?
Trying to balance family and work with training. There have been a couple times where I get stuck at work and I feel like I’m letting my trainer down. There have been other times where I forget to tell my wife Amy about a schedule change at the gym and I’m more afraid of her than I am my trainer!!

What does your family think of your participation?
They love it!!!! I took my older boys to watch a class a few weeks ago and I ended up sparring a couple rounds. I got tagged pretty good that day. Between rounds, I looked over to see their reaction and they looked excited. I think they were disappointed when I didn’t get a bloody nose like the week before.

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?
Everyone’s story is different but we all have one thing in common. Cancer has taken or has tried to take a loved one from each of us. Meeting Ryan and Jeff the guys I train with at Nonantum and finding out why they signed up created an instant bond. Then every week more fighter profiles come out. Let’s just say that I had to close my office door when I read Ben’s article so that nobody saw me reaching for tissues.

Has your initial inspiration changed since the start of your training?
My inspiration has and always will be fighting in honor if my father. What has changed is my perspective. At the beginning, I imagined that my training would culminate like the scene from Rocky IV where he crumples up Drago’s picture in disgust. Then I met my opponent Joamil and realized what a great guy he is. You realize that every fighter has one common opponent and that is cancer. I will still train as hard as I can and know that I am in for a battle on fight night. Instead of Joamil’s photo, I will crumple up a picture of Acute Myeloid Leukemia!!!  

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