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Boxing

Ring 10 raises money to help abandoned fighters, those down on their luck

Ring 10 boxers smile during a fundraiser. Photo from Facebook

By Kevin Redding

It was one of the few times Howard Davis Jr.’s wife saw him cry in public.

The Glen Cove native and Olympic gold medalist who made history in 1976 as the first amateur boxer to win the New York Golden Gloves tournament four years in a row had just about lost hope that he would ever get back his coveted awards, which were stolen from him and sold at a garage sale.

Matt Farrago with the late boxer and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. Photo from Karla Guadamuz Davis

That all changed Sept. 13, 2015, when he was honored by Matt Farrago and his New York-based nonprofit, Ring 10, during a gala at Marina del Rey Caterers in the Bronx.

Davis, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer earlier that year at 59 and was on a personal mission to retrieve the mementos for his family before it was too late, was presented with four golden pendants.

Each one was a perfect replica of his lost golden gloves pendants, made and paid for by Ring 10. Veteran fighters from the nonprofit took turns placing them around his neck.

All Davis could do was bury his head in his hands.

“It was such an emotional moment and it was all because of Matt Farrago and Ring 10,” his wife Karla Guadamuz-Davis said, adding that the organization regularly helped pay for her now-late husband’s expensive medical treatment. “After Howard passed away on Dec. 30, 2015, I called Matt and said, ‘Thank you for giving Howard some joy during the last months of his life.’”

For Farrago, 56, a former middleweight boxer who lives in Greenlawn, helping retired fighters who have fallen on hard times is what he does every single day as the founder and president of Ring 10.

Formed in 2010 with a board of directors made up of ex-fighters, a cutman and some boxing advocates that meet once a month in the Bronx, the group stands as one of the few in the world that looks out for those who have been beaten in and out of the ring. Veteran boxers who are often discarded by managers and promoters at the top of their careers have been lost ever since, and that’s where Farrago comes in.

Ring 10 founder Matt Farrago with board member Richard Schwartz. Photo from Facebook

A majority of them wind up in physical and financial ruin because, unlike other professional sports like football, baseball or hockey, protected by NFL, MLB and NHL agencies, there’s no retirement or medical plan or structure in boxing for them to rely on.

You’re by yourself in the ring and in life, Farrago said.

“This is the rare sport that doesn’t take care of its own,” said Farrago, who was a top fighter in the 1980s until he was abandoned by his manager after losing a main event at Madison Square Garden. “There’s nothing — no safety net — nothing for these guys to fall back on. In boxing, if you don’t produce, you’re of no use. That’s the manager’s philosophy.”

He explained that while most athletes are drafted into the pros based on scholarships and achievements in college, that’s almost never the case for fighters, many of whom come up from the streets.

“If they make money, they think it’s going to last forever,” Farrago said. “Then they wake up with $150 in the bank. Whatever it takes, we try and get them back on their feet. We are the most effective club like this in the world.”

One of Ring 10’s proudest success stories is that of Iran “The Blade” Barkley, the World Boxing Council middleweight champion of 1988. The only guy to beat boxing legend Tommy Hearns twice, Barkley went from top of the world to homeless in the Bronx.

Matt Farago with elebrated boxing judge and analyst Harold Lederman. Photo from Facebook

“We were literally told there’s a fighter in the subway system living only with a bag of clothes and his championship belt,” Farrago said. “When Iran retired, he had nothing. We took him in, got him settled, got him a place to live, had social services kick in and about a year and a half ago he got married to a nurse.”

Barkley now serves on the group’s board of directors, which also includes top boxers Mark Breland and Richard Burton, and celebrated boxing judge Harold Lederman.

Since its inception, Ring 10 has raised thousands of dollars through events and banquets to help more than 30 top fighters struggling around the world.

They send monthly gift cards to boxers who can’t afford groceries and clothes, and checks to the families of those suffering from illnesses such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy — an extremely common degenerative disease among fighters that’s brought on by repetitive brain trauma, also known as “punch-drunk syndrome.”

For the last six years the group has helped out former two-time middleweight champion Gerald McClellan, who suffered an aneurysm and collapsed in the ring in 1995 and is now blind and 80 percent deaf; it frequently sends care packages to Charlie “White Lightning” Brown, who was once regarded as having the fastest hands in the fight game and now resides in a nursing facility in Illinois with fluid on his brain and difficulty speaking; and even provided a proper headstone for a Floridian fighter who died from injuries in the ring and was buried in a nameless plot in Flushing, Queens.

Matt Farrago. Photo from Facebook

While most of the boxers helped are between 45 and 60 years old, board members said they anticipate some younger guys currently in the ring coming to them for help.

“Boxers are basically pawns to be moved around,” said Richard Schwartz, one of the board of directors. “I also think there’s the feeling that a lot of people just don’t care — they don’t care about the modern-day gladiators who get in the ring to entertain them, who risk their lives. Once they hang up their gloves and a lot of the hits to the head kick in, many of them don’t even have any kind of medical insurance when they need it most. Where is Don King? Where is Oscar De La Hoyas? These people have made hundreds of millions of dollars from the sweat, blood and tears of these fighters, and where are they?”

To Burton, a boxer who has been swindled out of a fair share of money over the years, there’s hope as long as Farrago is around.

“Everything he says he does, he actually does,” Burton said. “He goes beyond what’s expected of him and he’ll help anybody. If you’re down on your luck, Matt will find a way to raise money for you. Ring 10 is helping as many fighters as we can.”

The Ring 10 7th Annual Fundraiser will be held at the Marina del Rey Caterers in the Bronx Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather will go head to head on Aug. 26. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Boxing fans will be given the opportunity to watch the most anticipated sporting event of the year live on the big screen in select cinemas on Aug. 26 at 9 p.m., courtesy of Fathom Events. Witness the superfight that no one believed was possible when legendary undefeated world champion Floyd Mayweather battles UFC superstar Conor McGregor in the most anticipated sporting event of the year. Participating theaters in our neck of the woods include Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Melville and Island 16 Cinema De Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville. Tickets are $40 at the box office or by visiting www.fathomevents.com.

Michael Calvin and coach Thomas Cooper spar before the big fight. Photo from Michael Calvin

For amateur boxers, making it to the finals of the Daily News Golden Gloves tournament is a huge achievement. Recently fighters from Port Jefferson Station’s Royals Boxing Gym had their chance for glory in the ring, and one of them brought home the gold.

Two days before the fights the energy was high and the excitement was palpable at the gym as co-owner Michael Calvin of Setauket was balancing work and training to compete in the welterweight finals of the tournament at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom April 21. Golden Gloves finalist and Stony Brook resident Michael Misa was also at the gym that night. He was sparring in preparation for his light heavyweight match that was held at the Aviator Sports and Event Center in Brooklyn April 22. 

Calvin proudly wears his Golden Gloves shirt and necklace. Photo from Michael Calvin

Calvin, 26, a Ward Melville graduate, made it to the semifinals in 2013 but had to bow out due to an injury. He was looking forward to fighting in the finals this year.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Calvin said. “I guess it will sink in more when the experience is over. Right now, I am so immersed in the circumstances.”

Misa, 26, was also excited and said he was preparing to face his competitor Matt Klingerman with his trainer Adam Willett.

“It’s always a challenge, the finals,” Misa said. “I know my opponent. He has really good cardio. He always comes forward. We’re just working on using range and everything we worked on in the gym.”

Misa, who just started boxing last year, said this would actually be his third fight in the tournament, as opposed to his fourth like others in the Golden Gloves, because his opponent didn’t show up for the semifinal fight.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” he said. “You know it’s nice to get into the finals but I really wanted to earn my way into the finals. We worked really hard on it.”

Calvin said the two were training at least 20 hours a week in the lead-up to the tournament. Hard work is nothing new to them.

Besides running Royals Boxing Gym with his partner, Calvin is a personal trainer at Remedy Gym in Setauket and works with Giant Step Services, which educates and assists adults with developmental disabilities.

Calvin said he has been involved with boxing since he discovered it at the age of 16 when he saw children competing outside of the Boys & Girls Club of Suffolk County. He said working with boxers seven days a week in addition to training keeps him in top form. He said whether practicing, training others or leading demonstrations, he’s always going over his technique.

“My biggest weapon is this constant reinforcement of my fundamentals — it has gotten me exponentially better,” he said.

Misa, who grew up in Mount Sinai and is a liberal arts student at Suffolk County Community College, said years ago he became involved in jiujitsu and mixed martial arts at a competitive level. It was after a four-year stint in the Navy that he first tried his hand at boxing, even though he always followed it as a kid. He said he believes his training in the martial arts helps him when it comes to boxing. Misa also played hockey growing up but he said he prefers competing on his own like he does in boxing.   

“It’s an individual sport so it’s more on you,” Misa said. “Obviously you have your coaches and teammates that are pushing you in the gym, but at the end of the day, it’s only you and the other guy in the ring. That’s why I love it so much.”

Besides physical dedication, the sport takes a strong mental attitude.

“It takes a lot of mental preparation,” Calvin said. “I stay pretty calm. I never really get nervous. I’m not nervous until the walk to the ring, and that walk to the ring is the most heart-wrenching thing. It’s terrifying. Everything in you is telling you to turn around and walk away because you know there’s a 100 percent chance you’re going to get hit, but all your training and everything and your ego tells you to keep trucking
forward.”

As for punches, Calvin said when he’s fighting, he doesn’t register them coming.

“When you’re in the ring everything happens so fast,” he said. “It’s all reactive. You don’t have time to process anything in the ring at all. You have to react … all a result of training.”

Before the match, Thomas Cooper, co-owner of Royals who also trains Calvin, was optimistic about the fight and said that the boxer is a “special talent in the sport” and felt he was the top fighter in the competition.

“He has speed and power and that’s an excellent combination to have in boxing,” Cooper said. “He has fast feet, fast hands. He always listens to what you have to tell him. He’s always trying to do things better.”

“I stay pretty calm. I never really get nervous. I’m not nervous until the walk to the ring, and that walk to the ring is the most heart-wrenching thing. It’s terrifying.”

— Michael Calvin

Willett coaches both fighters and had great faith in them before they met their opponents in the ring. He met Misa a couple of years ago in the world of mixed martial arts. 

“He transitioned very well because he has an open mind,” the coach said. “I always tell everyone I gave him a map, and he followed it to the ‘t.’ So, it’s why he’s at where he is now. It’s kind of unheard of for someone who was in mixed martial arts to go into open class, because open class is semi-pro.”

On the night of April 21 Calvin was unanimously declared the 152-pound open title champion in the welterweight division. The next day Misa lost his match in the 178-pound open title bout. Calvin said making it to the finals, for a new boxer like Misa, is a great achievement in itself.

Cooper was extremely proud of Calvin after the fight, and said the boxer dominated his opponent, Michael Hughes, a 2012 Golden Gloves champion, with his in-and-out movements and speed and power in the three, three-minute rounds.

“He did all the things we’ve been working on, and it really seemed in that final fight that a lot of things came together,” Cooper said. “He put it all together. He was in and out, he was moving. It was fantastic.”

He was excited to see his business partner and teammate win after years of hard work.

“When he got those golden gloves around his neck, I was extremely happy for him because it changes his life,” the coach said.

A couple of days after the fight, Calvin was still shocked as he prepared for the national tournament, which will be held in Lafayette, Louisiana’s Cajundome the first week of May.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet because I’m so focused on nationals,” the boxer said. “But the feeling of having those gloves around my neck was really spectacular … and getting my hands raised in front of all those people.”

Dr. Ron “The Mazzacutioner” Mazza, left, squares off in the ring against Commack’s Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow, right, in the Long Island Fight for Charity. Photo from Jen Vaglica

A Commack man who packs a big punch used it for good when he stepped into the ring to help raise money for Long Island charities.

Long Island Fight for Charity hosted its 12th Main Event on Nov. 23 at the Hilton Long Island in Melville. Months of training came to an end when 26 business professionals turned volunteer boxers put their gloves on and stepped into the ring. In the fifth bout of the evening, Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow of Commack and investigative counsel, private investigator, founding partner of Radius Investigations in Melville entered the ring to face his opponent, Dr. Ron “The Mazzacutioner” Mazza of Northport and Chiropractor at Synergy Multicare Professionals in Westbury. Both boxers landed solid hits on each other in the three one-minute rounds, impressing all the judges.

“I love martial arts and boxing, and I love Long Island, so I thought this was an ideal way to combine my interests with doing some real good for my community,” Megibow said. “It’s been a great experience. The training was fantastic and I’m very glad we were able to raise a lot of money to help people.”

More than 1,200 attendees packed the ballroom at the Long Island Hilton and were treated to food and beverages donated by more than 35 local restaurants and wine and spirits companies. Over several months, the boxers raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, accomplishing their goals by hosting individual and team fundraisers across Long Island.

Sinai and the other boxers trained for months, at least twice a week to start, ramping up to almost every day in the final weeks leading up to the main event. In the process of training for their bouts, the boxers improved their physical stamina and, in total, lost hundreds of pounds. There is no other charity event like this anywhere in the country, where local business professionals raise money for charity and step into the boxing ring in front of a large crowd of friends and supporters.

“Stepping into the ring was one of the greatest experiences I had in my life. It feels amazing to both get in the greatest shape in my life and help local Long Islanders’ in need,” Mazza said.

Proceeds from Long Island Fight for Charity will be donated to The Long Island Community Chest, The Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. When the final tally is complete, the Long Island Fight for Charity will be over its $1 million goal.

Local businesses and professional firms sponsoring this year’s 12th Main Event include: Barnes Iaccarino & Shepherd LLP; Alure Home Improvements; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Fat Guy Media; Farrell Fritz; Saxena White P.A.; Local 1298; AmWINS Brokerage of NJ; Crystal & Company; RedTree Radiology; Local 60; Local 342, UMD, ILA; Carter, Deluca, Farrell & Schmidt LLP; Excavators Union Local 731; St. Hugh-St. Elizabeth Baseball League Inc.; Local 223; Jonis Realty; UPS Foundation Inc.; Francesco’s Bakery and L. Graziose Plumbing & Heating.

For more information about this event and to volunteer as a boxer for the 13th Long Island Fight for Charity, taking place on Nov. 20, 2016, visit www.lifightforcharity.org.

Rhonda Klch stepping into the ring again to raise money for charity

Mike Murphy, a boxing trainer, poses for a photo with Rhonda Klch. Photo from Klch

Don’t let her 4-foot, 11-inch stature fool you — Rhonda Klch is a force to be reckoned with.

This Long Island native, who was born in Smithtown and lives in Miller Place, opened her first business, American Investors and Collectors, at the age of 19, and saved up enough money from that business to purchase three houses when she was only 23 years old. Now, nearly two decades later, this mother of five runs her own business in the mortgage industry, caters to her family and finds the time to give back to her community through the five charities she is involved in.

As part of giving back, Klch joined Long Island Fight for Charity, and is putting on some boxing gloves and plans to step into the ring, again — a notion that was out of Klch’s comfort zone.

“[I] knew it would grab the attention in the business community,” Klch said when asked why she joined the charity, which provides money to organizations like Long Island Community Foundation, a nonprofit that connects donors with charitable organizations within their community, and PinkTie.org., a network of real estate professionals that raise funds for breast cancer research. “[It] became a buzz, which allowed me to express and to advocate for what the charities were doing.”

Klch trained and fought for the organization last year, raising $3,800. Although she is currently nursing a minor injury, she is accepting donations while she hopes to compete in her next match for Long Island Fight for Charity scheduled for Nov. 23.

Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR
Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR

Klch is now the president and CEO of her company, Equity First, which assists business residents who are experiencing financial difficulties. She established her current business in October 2003, but her goal wasn’t simply to make money and grow her demanding business, it was also to give back to her community — starting with those experiencing financial hiccups.

“There’s a bunch of people who have amazing resources,” Klch said. “If you’re not utilizing your resources for good, it goes to waste.”

Around seven years ago, Klch became more involved in community service. She worked alongside Building Hope, a charity that renovates the homes of families facing a crisis — families who may need wheelchair ramps in their homes upon a devastating injury were accommodated. But renovating the homes wasn’t an issue for these families, sustaining the home was the issue. According to Klch, no one checked the financial status of these families — some families risked losing the home following the renovations. Now Klch’s company conducts financial reviews for these families to ensure they don’t lose the house.

“Her commitment to giving back to her community is second to none,” Mark Legaspi said about Klch. “She really thinks of other people before she thinks of herself.”

Legaspi is the president of Legaspi Associates Inc, which aims to provide quality service regarding life insurance. Legaspi is also a board member, alongside Klch, for a veteran-minded charity called Easter Seals.

When Klch first decided to become involved with Long Island Fight for Charity, her family thought she was crazy.

“You don’t want to watch somebody get hurt,” said Klch’s husband Stephen. “But at the same time, because it was for charity … it’s not to bash somebody, but the concern was there because it’s a real fight.”

Klch and her husband got married 16 years ago. For several years, Klch was the main breadwinner, while her husband catered to the kids. According to Stephen Klch, he left his job and didn’t have to worry about hiring a babysitter to help look after their children. Now he works for his wife’s company, handling the budget and fixing up the homes.

While giving back to the community was important to Klch’s wife, helping others became a family affair as the children got older.

“We kind of live in a bubble,” Klch said. “We want them to have a reality check on what is in their neighborhood and what other families are struggling through.”

According to Stephen Klch, his children partake in events like Equity First’s project called Holiday Dreams. The company established the initiative last year and aims to provide holiday cheer to homeless children or those in transition. This year will be the second time the company is holding the event. Last year, they helped 200 children. This year, the company is committed to helping 250 children and 50 veterans, according to Rhonda Klch.

From her business to her family life and participation in several charities, Klch credits time management and delegation skills for her ability to balance her busy life. Her nonstop attitude when taking on and executing projects is one reason Maria Frey, president and founder of Executive Consultants of New York, clicked with Klch.

Frey said people like Klch show that there are still people who care about those around them.

“[Rhonda] solidifies to me that there are other people in the community who want to make a change and want to help, and she is definitely one of them,” Frey said. “I feel honored to know her.”

Sinai ‘The Mountain’ Megibow is going to step into the ring for charity. Photo from Jen Vaglica

This charity packs a punch.

In this corner, Commack native Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow, 41, is one of 20 determined volunteers who will be boxing for charity this Nov. 23 for the 12th annual Long Island Fight for Charity. The mission is to raise money for local charities by putting volunteers from around the Island in the ring for head-to-head fights in front of spectators who buy tickets for the event.

Megibow, who lives in Commack with his wife and three daughters, said he is eager to contribute to the greater community of Long Island.

He is a founding partner of Radius Investigations, a specialized private investigative and security-consulting firm in Melville. He is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and a member of the Long Island Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

“I have very much wanted to get involved in something fun for the community,” Megibow said in a phone interview, adding that he felt this was the perfect event.

Every boxer is required to raise $5,000 for multiple charities including the Long Island Community Chest, The Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. But if they raise more than the minimum, contestants can send half of the excess funding to a charity of their choice.

Megibow said he has his eyes set on the Michael Magro Foundation if he is able to raise more than $5,000. The foundation focuses on bettering the lives of children with cancer as well as other chronic pediatric illnesses.

A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity
A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity

“I am far from an expert in boxing,” he said. “I’m much more an enthusiast. But I do very much enjoy training in martial arts, and I have done a little bit of kickboxing as well.”

In fact, Megibow said he is more anxious about raising the amount of funds he needs than he is for the actual fight.

“[My wife is] more nervous about raising the money as well, but I’ve got a pretty big support group,” Megibow said.

Each person who buys a ticket for the event also has to choose one fighter to support. For this fight, Megibow said he hopes he can garner some sponsors from larger clients and pair that with help from his family and friends.

Each boxer is also required to undergo a certain amount of training before they can step into the ring. Trained boxers volunteer their time to help get each contestant into fighting shape, according to Megibow.

Although he doesn’t have any strategies yet aside from training as much as possible, once it’s determined who he will fight against, he said he’ll start to think more about how to approach his opponent. For example, if his opponent is taller than him, he’ll focus on low strikes.

As for Megibow’s fight name, The Mountain, it’s a direct reference to his first name, Sinai — after Mount Sinai, the mountain that he was named after.

“This is a great organization — as much money as possible goes straight to the charities they’re involved with, and I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think the fight itself is going to be fun.”

Although the fight is going to be on a little too late for Megibow’s kids, he said he’s hoping to set them up with the pay-per-view channel that will be airing the fight, so that “they can watch their dad get beat up,” Megibow said.

One of 20 Long Island business professionals gearing up for annual Long Island Fight for Charity in November

Rhonda Klch gloves up for last year’s Long Island Fight for Charity. This year, Klch will head back into the ring for the charity match, which raises money for the Long Island Community Chest. Photo from Corbett PR

By Rachel Siford

Mount Sinai’s Rhonda “Master of Financial Disaster” Klch is heading back into the ring on Nov. 23, 2015, for her second Long Island Fight for Charity match.

Klch is the founder and CEO of Equity First, LLC, a financial advising firm based in Coram. She started the company in 2004.

The charity boxing match raises money for the Long Island Community Chest, a nonprofit organization that provides short-term financial support to needy families and individuals who have suffered a crisis. Last year, Klch left her match victorious.

Klch was inspired to participate in the fight when she heard the money was going to the Community Chest. More than $850,000 has been donated to Long Island charities since its inception 12 years ago.

“Due to the fact that my firm works heavily in budget planning and helping clients that are in financial distress, I felt it was very close to what we do,” Klch said.

Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR
Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR

Preparing for the match takes time. Fight for Charity requires all participants get a physical exam. Fighters also have to check in at certified gyms to track how much they are training. Boxers typically need to complete three to four days of cardio a week, with two or more days of sparring.

Klch will have to wait until September to find out who she will be fighting on the night of the event.

“Right now, I have to train like I’m going to get my butt kicked,” Klch said smiling. “I have no idea who it is going to be yet.”

Klch and her company try to get involved with many organizations.

Equity First is also involved with The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aides to those who can’t afford them, and Pink Tie, a cancer research fundraiser. Last year, the company sponsored 160 children from the Longwood community who were either homeless or in transient housing and provided them with their holiday gifts. Klch is also on the Friends of Karen, which supports critically ill children and their families, Long Island advisory board.

“We have a pretty good corporate culture here,” Klch said. “Everyone wants to chip in and help out; it’s almost a prerequisite for their employment.”

Prior to founding Equity First, Klch was a branch manager for First West Mortgage Bankers. She actually started Equity First as a side business while still working at the bank.

“I’m just very entrepreneurial by nature,” Klch said. “I feel like I am a good leader and I like having my own concepts and being able to see them through from start to finish.”

Klch said staying involved with charities helps people learn about their communities and issues they may not have realized existed.

“You just never know enough about yourself until you put yourself into an uncomfortable position,” Klch said. “You’ll never grow if you never go out of your comfort zone.”

For more information on the event go to www.lifightforcharity.org.