During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Beltway Brawl on Thursday, September 19th at The Anthem. 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 Erika Nelson, fighting out of Baltimore Boxing Club.

Where are you from?
Albuquerque, NM

Where’d you go to college?
University of Maryland and University of Florida

Did you play any sports growing up?
Soccer mostly was life, but I also ran track and dabbled with the Equestrian sport of Dressage

What do you do for work?
Currently I am a Tech on an Oncology ICU, but I just finished nursing school and will be starting as a PICU nurse in a couple months!

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
I have always had an affinity for the boxing/wrestling/fighting movies...they always got me so pumped up! Haha so I guess I have always been very intrigued by the sport, but I can't say I ever pictured myself doing it (and Lord knows my mom certainly never wanted to picture me fighting hehe)

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
One of my college teammates (and first ever roommate and dear friend) fought in the Boston match. She inspired me throughout her journey, and ultimately pushed me to sign up (thanks Kay)! Also life is too short, so there is no time like the present!

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 have a long list of friends and family members who have fought valiantly against cancer, some who were victorious, and others whose memories I will simply treasure for the rest of my life. One of the dearest memories I carry with me is my grandma, Thora, who lost her physical fight with leukemia. I have also had the privilege to work with and care for the patients at the Oncology ICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Listening to my patient's stories has emphasized that cancer doesn't care where you came from, who you are, or what you have/haven't done in your life. Cancer doesn't discriminate. So, if cancer doesn't rest, then neither should we in our fight for a cure.

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
Absolutely, 100% it will be taming my sweet tooth

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Petting all the dogs of Baltimore, eating, thinking about eating, recreational sports, biking, and adventuring outside in the sunshine!

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
At this point I'm not sure...but I know that it is NOT my sweet mother

Check out her fundraising page and be sure to wish her luck! Best of luck, Kayla!