You’ve heard who they are and why they’re fighting. But now that we’re over the halfway mark until the big night on September 19th, things have started to pick up a bit. Training is getting more intense. They’ve been punched in the face. Most have had a bloody nose here or there, their diets have changed, and boxing is becoming an everyday part of their lives. So we figured it was about time to check back in and see how things have been going. Jesse Stephens has been putting in work at Urban Boxing DC and below you’ll hear about her first time sparring and more about his experience with Haymakers thus far.

We’re halfway to fight night, how is your training coming along?
It's coming along extremely well. I have complete trust in my coach and he's done a great job preparing me

What is your weekly routine?
road work and boxing 3x a week, strength training and footwork 3x a week, one day of "rest" with some cryotherapy sprinkled in

How has your diet changed since training began?
The hard part for me has been eating more, but the right stuff. It's easy to justify bad food choices when you're boxing several hours a week and running 15+ miles a week, plus time in the gym. My happy medium has been a diet of Thai and Mediterranean food, that way I get the carbs and protein I need but it tastes good too.

Tell us about your first-time sparring, different than expected?
I wasn't sure what to expect to be honest. It's obviously much easier to punch things that don't hit back (bags, pads, etc.), but sparring is where you can really start to see how much you're improving

What has been the most challenging part of sticking to the routine and training so far?
Timing my rest has definitely been a huge challenge 

What does your family think of your participation?
My wife actually asked me if there's a way I can fight without punching anyone in the head...I don't think anyone in my family is particularly thrilled about me trading head blows with someone. They'll just have to get over it. It's worth it for the cause.

It’s amazing how many people’s lives have been touched by cancer in some way - has there been anyone that has surprised you by their story?
Annie Dragolich's story is incredible. There are no words to describe how impressive it is to see a cancer survivor dedicate themselves to train for a boxing match. If Haymakers ever goes to Philly, I have a good friend with a similar story who'd make one hell of a Haymakers competitor.

Has your initial inspiration changed since the start of your training?
Not exactly. Since I signed up for Haymakers, my wife's aunt passed away. Her son, my wife's cousin, put it best at the funeral: "Her battle with cancer is now over, and she won. Even though her time ran out, cancer wasn't able to take any life away from her while she was here". Being at that funeral opened a lot of old wounds for me, it brought me right back to the days I lost my parents. There's an even greater sense of urgency in my training - I have to do try and do something about this.

Donate to Jesse or purchase a ticket to The Beltway Brawl on September 19th here!