During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Rock ‘N Rumble VIII in Boston on May 17th. They’ve committed to four months of fundraising and training in preparation to get in the ring and literally fight for a cure. Whether their mom is battling, their father has passed or their friend has put up a victory against the disease – they’ve all got a story to tell and they’ve all got a reason to fight. Below you’ll hear from Rusty Handler, fighting out of EverybodyFights in South Boston.

Where are you from?
I lived in Los Angeles, CA my entire life--raised in Calabasas, CA and going to school in the city at USC. I moved out to Boston after my Senior year and have lived in South Boston for the past 3 years

Where’d you go to college?
University of Southern California (Fight On!)

Did you play any sports growing up?
As a kid I fell in love with baseball, which was great for my Mom as she wanted to keep me away from contact sports as long as possible. When I told her I was signing up for the Freshman football team she almost had a heart attack! My Freshman football coach, Andy Falk, encouraged me to join the wrestling team after the season was over to complement my football skills.

What was a fun activity turned into a year-round sport for me. I was one of the few Sophomore team captains for my high school's wrestling team, I competed in off-season tournaments across California and Nevada for USA Wrestling (thanks to my Dad for the many miles logged on his car!) and eventually found myself establishing the wrestling program at USC and competing in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.

What do you do for work?
I began my career, post-college, at Putnam Investments within a sales and marketing role and was recently promoted to be an Investment Specialist.

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
I've always been a very competitive person. Growing up around sports my entire life, it's almost second nature to be. Since my last wrestling match I haven't had an opportunity to compete athletically but I've stayed very active in the gym. I've been fortunate enough to meet some great people out here in Boston, one of which is a trainer at EverybodyFights who became my roommate. I'm not sure if he just really wants to see me get hit in the face a few times or if he's just super passionate about boxing (probably both) but he convinced me that I should jump on the opportunity to learn the sport and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity with Haymakers to do so.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
After volunteering for Haymakers for Hope last year, and standing just feet away from the stage, I was blown away. It was one thing to hear about the training and preparation that each boxer put in but it was another to hear stories of how each was affected by cancer. The combination of all those factors pushed me to sign up.

You’re stepping in the ring to literally fight for a cure - where are you drawing your inspiration from? How has cancer affected you?
During my Junior year of college my grandfather was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. The absolute Superman of our family, hearing him cry on the phone to my sisters and I when telling us broke us all. But he kept being that rock that we relied on through it all. I was fortunate enough that I was close enough to home that I was able to sit with him through every chemo session. One of the last pictures I have of him is sitting in therapy with a huge smile on his face. His strength before, during and after each round is what drives me.

Outside of my personal experience, I have plenty of friends and acquaintances whose lives have been affected by cancer. Haymakers is an opportunity for me to represent all of those people that want to have a voice in the fight for a cure but don't know how or what they can do about it.

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
I have a big spot in my heart for Chinese food. I'm slightly concerned that Teriyaki House in Southie is going to think I moved.

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
SPORTS--Most people would tell you USC football runs my life and that would be slightly accurate. Outside of that I have an undying loyalty to my California sports--Lakers, Raiders, Angels & Ducks.

I also love to travel and hope to do more international trips later this year.

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
There's plenty of people I can put on blast here but I'm going to say my friends purely on the fact that I'm willingly do it and they're going to see it happen. 

Be sure to check out his fundraising page here and wish him luck on Instagram! Best of luck, Rusty!