During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Hope NYC VIII in NYC on November 14th. 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 Matt Gralen, fighting out of Mendez Boxing.

Where are you from?
Suburbs of Chicago

Where’d you go to college?

Did you play any sports growing up?
Football, lacrosse

What do you do for work?
Strategy & operations at an entertainment company

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
I feel like I've always had it in me. Always loved contact sports - started playing football in 2nd grade and would have started in 1st if they would have let me! I took my first bags class about 2 years ago and was hooked on the spot. And beyond the sport itself, boxing has an incredible culture around it. Such a great community to be a part of.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
Got to do it on the biggest stage!! And make some good happen in the world at the same time.

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 dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2013, had successful surgery soon thereafter and has remained cancer-free ever since. My family and I could not be more grateful for the medical advancements that made his shockingly smooth recovery possible. But it might not have been this way a generation earlier. The experience helped me realize that research and awareness is critical to make this type of experience possible for as many cancer patients and families as possible.

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
All of the above!! Sleep, food, drink, the list goes on...

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Music, food, reading, travel and plenty of others. Got to keep things interesting!!

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
Friends, family, co-workers - I think it's equal opportunity!

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