During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Beltway Brawl in DC on September 19th. 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 Jesse Stephens, fighting out of Urban Boxing Bethesda / Beta Academy.

Where are you from?
Grew up outside of Philadelphia, then lived in NJ and NYC, and now I call DC home

Where’d you go to college?
Villanova, go 'cats!

Did you play any sports growing up?
I played football and was a lax bro growing up, I even had "flow", which started falling out by the time I was 23

What do you do for work?
I work for a commercial real estate owner/operator. Specifically, my role is related to development and construction

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
Honestly? Yes I did. The Rocky movies were a staple of my formative years. I think pugilism is such a great way to distill human nature. Look at stories like Jack Dempsey, Jim Braddock, Ali. Those are guys who at one point faced impossible odds, or at least a lot of people telling them what they couldn't do. They succeeded anyway. I always wanted to see what I'd do if I stood toe-to-toe with someone else, and prove to myself it's something I can do.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
In order to prove to myself I can do it, eventually, I need to take that first step. There aren't a ton of opportunities for someone my age, with no fighting experience, to compete. The opportunity to do just that, and for a cause that means something to me, seemed too good to pass 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?
My wife’s aunt was battling cancer for a few years, and passed away in the time since I signed up for haymakers. She has two wonderful kids who are about the same age my brother and I were when our mom passed. The pain of watching family suffer is all too familiar. I remember feeling so helpless when she was sick, like there was nothing I could do about it. It reminds me of all those feelings. Being an observer in their fight made me want to “do something” about it, so I signed up for Haymakers for Hope. Like I said above, it's something I've always wanted to do anyway. If the research funded by my fight improves someone's quality of life enough for one more moment with their family then it's more than worth it.

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
Getting up in the mornings to train instead of cuddling with my dog. He's the best. He's a little 20 pound pug named Wally.

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
For better or worse I'm a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan. We're not all as bad as the rumors make us out to be, but it's definitely intense enough to be considered a hobby. Although, I can honestly say that I think boxing and combat sports is becoming a new hobby of mine. So far I'm enjoying the training.

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
That's a really tough question to answer. I think list of people who want to see me punched in the face is reaaalllly long... that's what I get for having a mildly irritating sense of humor my whole life. It runs in my dad's family *shoulder shrug*

Check out his fundraising page and be sure to wish him luck! Best of luck, Jesse!