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 Parker M Willard Jr., fighting out of BoxSmith.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Randolph and Hanover, Massachusetts. I currently reside in Dedham, Massachusetts, since 2000.

Where’d you go to college?
Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Did you play any sports growing up?
I played Football, Basketball and Baseball growing up. In high school, I played Football, Wrestled and switched to Track and Field, when I got cut from baseball. Half my entire childhood was spent with a wiffleball bat in hand, the other half with a football.

What do you do for work?
I am a Project Manager for my family's Roofing and Lightning Protection Companies in Dedham, Massachusetts. I have been in both businesses since I was 16. I now estimate, manage and inspect ongoing work.

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
Never in a million years did I picture myself in the ring! Football and baseball/softball were/are my loves. I still play both. I used to shadow box with my stepdad as a kid, as he boxed when he was young. And I loved boxing, growing up watching the Rocky movies and cheering local guys like Marvin Hagler. But never did I think I would be stepping into a ring at 41. This is way outside my comfort zone, but I think I am up for the challenge. 100% Heart!

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
A fellow Dedham Resident and Haymaker, Joe O'Brien, fought last year in honor of his dad. It felt like it was just right, even though it's all brand new. I wanted to help fight the good fight!

You’re stepping in the ring to literally fight for a cure - where are you drawing your inspiration from? How has cancer affected you?
I draw my inspiration from the following: My Mom: Judy Cuccia- Lost November 2016 My Stepdad: Michael Cuccia- Lost July 2017 For Caleb and every kid that didn’t deserve this fate. I've run a marathon and a handful of half marathons for a Children's Cancer Charity in Florida, in memory of Caleb Whan. And I fight for those still fighting. My Dad: Parker Willard Sr. 3-0 vs Cancer and still swinging My Papa: Carl Cuccia… In his 90’s and still Fighting the good fight! (And for all you survivors and fighters out there!) A little known fact also is that my wife has had a trip to Dana Farber as well. We have been very blessed that her issues were benign in nature. But I draw my inspiration from her strength and determination and from the love of my boys, Parker (9) and Piers (3). Cancer has punched us too many times. It's time for some counter-punching!

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
As for diet and lifestyle; I am not really a big drinker and I don't watch much TV. But I will miss pizza (and carbs) terribly. There will be a trip to Regina Pizzeria in the North End on May 18th, I promise that! I will also miss time with my two boys. But the whole family is on board with this fight!

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
I am a full time hockey dad. It consumes a lot of time. I love to play 8-on-8 contact flag football on Sundays, even though I am getting older and smaller than the young guys. I also play softball in Boston. I also love to coach football and have coached baseball, as well. Huge sports fan family. My family and I love road trips and hiking. We are a big Disney family too. We go yearly. We usually are running a Disney half marathon when we go. I am a full blown geek that loves comics, star wars and (video) gaming with my wife and older son, with the little down time we have!

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
My entire office! I think they're buying tickets just to cheer the other guy! ;-)

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