Hunter Hero: gloves on to punch cancer where it hurts

LIMBERING UP: Brad Ryan and Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation's Lizzie Senior ahead of a fight night to raise money for charity. Picture: Pat Gleeson
LIMBERING UP: Brad Ryan and Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation's Lizzie Senior ahead of a fight night to raise money for charity. Picture: Pat Gleeson

IT’S time to land a knockout blow on cancer.

And – bout by bout – a charity event in Newcastle that nurtures the fighting spirit of amateurs is helping put the disease on the ropes.

Brad and Jackie Ryan, the owners of Action Boxing and Fitness at Tighes Hill, are gearing up for a fight night, aptly named Punching Cancer in the Face, to raise money and awareness for the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation.

The fight night, the second for the gym in three months, sees amateur boxers put their fears aside to step into the ring and battle it out for a worthy cause.

Brad Ryan, whose mother had a close call with breast cancer 15 years ago, said everyone had been touched by the illness.

Like keeping a tight guard in the ring, the community needs to rally around those affected by cancer, Mr Ryan believes.

“If you don’t have anyone there for you when serious illness happens, you’re on your own and it can be pretty tough,” he said.

“That’s why when we were looking for a charity, the Breast Cancer Foundation just stood out.

“They play a huge role in the Hunter – patients are helped out with all their daily needs.

“From being dropped off to appointments to helping around the house, it’s great that they’re able to take some of the pressure off, and we want to support that as much as we can.”

Mr Ryan said he was proud the fight nights were able to demonstrate that “boxers have a heart”.

“You think of the traditional boxer, they don’t always come across as nice and friendly and part of the community,” he said.

“But these guys are all here for the right reasons – they want to help out.”

Participants are put through their paces as part of an eight-week boot camp in the lead-up to the fight night.

Over that time, Mr Ryan said, he has witnessed the self-confidence of competitors “grow and grow”.

“Some people that participate are experienced, but others have never had anything to do with boxing in their lives,” he said.

“When you see them on fight night, even though they are nervous, you can just see the confidence in them.”

He added: “People have told me they used the experience in all parts of their life. One man told me it helped him with his public speaking, which I find amazing.”

Mr Ryan hopes the fight night in March “raises the bar” to raise $7000 for the charity.

The December event raised more than $5000.

Search “Punching cancer in the face” on mycause.com.au to donate. Fight night is held at Newcastle United Sports Club, Adamstown, on March 24. Tickets: 0402 335 850

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