I’m not a boxer.  I’m not a fighter.  I’ve never thrown a punch at anyone in my entire life… These were my thoughts as I was contemplating signing up to compete in Haymakers for Hope NYC VII.  I’d had several friends that had competed, and all had said what an incredible experience it had been - both physically and emotionally - but it seemed like a LOT of time and effort… and given where I was at in life, I wasn’t sure I had the bandwidth to do it.  That’s what I was telling myself anyway.  The reality is that I was terrified.  I wasn’t sure I had it in me.  Putting my body through 4 months of intense training, then stepping in a ring in front of thousands of people (including friends and family) when I had a very real chance of losing, and more honestly embarrassing myself… Was this really something I wanted to do?  

And then I thought about my Mom.  She wasn’t given a choice.  She wasn’t provided training.  In the blink of an eye, my Mom was in a fight for her life, and potential embarrassment was about the furthest thing from her mind…  I thought about how brave she was when she told us that she’d been diagnosed, how she somehow managed to wear that beautiful smile when no doubt she was terrified inside.  Despite the diagnosis she’d just been given, SHE was the one telling US to be brave…

In that moment, there was no choice for me to make.  This was something I had to do.  For her, and for everyone else that’s been in this situation - on both sides.

And she was with me throughout my entire Haymakers experience… I remember telling her when I signed up and was accepted - that was pretty emotional for both of us.  I remember filling out the ‘Why I fight’ section of my Haymakers profile, sharing what it was like to see my Mom in the hospital just after her surgery  - tearing up just thinking about that day.  I remember FaceTiming her after a workout one day, introducing her to Harry my trainer (he later said I had to win otherwise ‘Your mom will whip my butt!’).  I remember just before the fight when she came to the gym and got to see where I’d spent the past 4 months, meeting Harry and some of my other new friends/fighters.  I remember that walk into the ring, trying to stay calm and focused yet also finally realizing that it wasn’t about winning or losing, my Mom was so proud of me already.  I remember after winning my fight, sprinting up to the area where all my ‘fans’ were sitting to see her - apparently, my fight made her so nervous she was outside already outside getting some air.  And then I remember finding her.  That look on her face will be with me forever.  She was so happy (and I’m sure quite relieved it was finally over!) and gave me the biggest hug.  Of course, we were both bawling from the emotional overload… but that’s what this event is all about.

When the event ended, we went to the afterparty where I was able to introduce her to some of the other trainers/fighters which was also an awesome experience.   She even got to feel ‘cool’ hanging back in the VIP section of the bar :). To close out the experience, her and I joined some of the Haymakers Crew for lunch and celebratory drinks the next day.  Which I know is cool on both sides as for them it’s proof that the Haymakers mission is the correct one - impacting not only the community at large and the charities they support, but to see the individual impact they have I know gives them a lot of pride as well, and it should…  

My Mom is one of the lucky ones, she won her battle and is now 16 years cancer-free.   But there are so many Moms out there in the world, right now in the middle of their own fight.  There are many Moms that weren’t as fortunate and were taken from their families much too early.  Today, on Mother’s Day,  let us honor all of them- those still in the ring with us here, and those cheering us on in spirit.  On behalf of my Mom, my friend’s Moms, and all families that have been impacted by this disease - A sincere Thank You to the entire Haymakers for Hope organization for all you do -  It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the community.  Together we WILL knock cancer out!

Written By Brian Wallace, Hope NYC 2018