Julie Anne Kelly delivers a jab to her opponent in a boxing match staged by her organization Haymakers for Hope.
Julie Anne Kelly tightens her gloves, slips into the ring, and sizes up her opponent with the eagle-eyed stare of someone who has spent considerable time inside a 16-by-25-foot rectangle. Kelly is an amateur in the predominantly male sport of boxing, which inspired her and Andrew Myerson to found Haymakers for Hope, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that hosts charity boxing matches that have raised more than $2 million to help the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund find a cure for cancer.
Haymakers held its first fight at the Castle at Boston Park Plaza Hotel in 2011. With attendance of over a thousand and proceeds of almost $200,000, Kelly and Myerson knew they had a hit (no pun intended) on their hands, so they’ve staged similar events each year in Boston and New York.
On October 7, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Kelly and 24 local VIPs, including sports media personality–turned–private chef Jen Royle, will climb into the ring and spar at Haymakers’ Belles of the Brawl event. The women-only matches aim to break down barriers in the sport while also raising money to fight breast cancer. Each fighter is matched with another of similar size, weight, and skill. “After doing the national cooking show The Taste on ABC, I was ready for a new challenge,” says Royle, who has been training with Tommy McInerney of FitBOX in Dedham six times a week to prepare for her match. “Having lost my father and grandmother to cancer, this seemed like the right choice. I’ve always been athletic, but my training has tested my limits both mentally and physically.”
Kelly has faced fights, quite literally, in both arenas. She has won numerous Golden Gloves competitions, and she KO’d her own mortal adversary after college, defeating Hodgkin lymphoma. “Belles of the Brawl offers women the empowering experience of learning the sweet science and fighting against a disease that affects our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and selves,” she says, all while “showing Boston what it means to ‘fight like a girl.’” House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St., 888-693-2583