During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Rock ‘N Rumble X in Boston on October 13th. 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 Dennis Topakov fighting out of UFC Gym.

Where are you from?
Boston, MA (Born in Siberia, Russia)

Where did you go to college?
UMass Amherst

Did you play any sports growing up?
Baseball, Basketball & Football

What do you do for work?
Acadian Asset Management

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
When I was growing up in Russia, fighting was very popular. My mom got me into mixed martial arts and it's always been the back bone of my athletic career. I got back into it after college and just gravitated to the training style of boxing, it's been very therapeutic for me. I'm excited that I can do something I love while also contributing to the fight against cancer.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
I have always been able to relate to the fighting lifestyle of boxing. Being an immigrant and moving to America with my mother, we quickly realized we wouldn't have an even playing field - we had to fight our own fight to survive the way we could.

You’re stepping in the ring to literally fight for a cure - where are you drawing your inspiration from? How has cancer affected you?
Just like many other families mine has also been struck by cancer. Several years back my aunt and grandmother had lost their own hard-fought battles with cancer.

My grandmother lived in a little village called Azkiz in Siberia, she was my bestfriend. When I would come visit every couple of years I would run to her house every day until people would ask if I was annoying her. Her cancer diagnosis was sudden and her battle very short. We talked on the phone every night while she was in the hospital about when she would get better, the plans we'd make, when I would come back and visit - until our final call moments before she passed. There were no more plans, no more trips to make, no more excited knocks from me on her door. Being in America with access to great healthcare while she was in Siberia fighting alone really took a toll on me and changed my outlook on the world & the role I play in it.

It was a similar situation with my aunt as well, she was living in Ireland at the time and I specifically remember how difficult it was for my step-father to be in America while she was fighting alone.

These two experiences really helped me understand the gravity of cancer. It is not just the person who fights, it also ripples throughout family and friends. My aunt left behind, a home, a family, a daughter. All of which will never be the same, they now have their own battles to face because cancer took their person away from them.

My inspiration is to fight for the memory of my grandmother & aunt, to raise awareness for how deeply Cancer strikes and to hopefully inspire someone else to always keep fighting!

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
Ice cream, I've developed a slight addiction to Mochi that'll definitely be the toughest.

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
I am mentoring my little brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and reading through the Read to a Child Program. I also play a ton of Softball & love to hang out with my dog Rocko.

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
Definitely all my friends who were on the fence about me getting into an actual Ring!

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