Belles of the Brawl

Haymakers for Hope is putting on an all-female boxing match in October to raise money for cancer research.

Photo provided by Holly Myerson of Haymakers for Hope.

Photo provided by Holly Myerson of Haymakers for Hope.

When Kristen Mercier, a personal trainer and cancer exercise specialist, signed up for Haymakers for Hope’s Belles of the Brawl, she knew what she was getting into (sort of). Mercier trains and teaches at Corpbasics in Somerville, where she incorporates boxing moves into her daily workouts, but she’s never done anything quite as intense as this.

Founded by Julie Anne Kelly and Andrew Myerson, two boxers originally from Boston, Haymakers for Hope is a nonprofit charity that raises money for cancer research through boxing matches. The money is raised through a combination of people pledging for the boxers, buying tickets to the events, and donating directly to the cause. Because their May event at the House of Blues (co-ed) was such a huge success (we were there rooting on Boston writer Steve Annear), Haymakers for Hope created the all-female bout called Belles of the Brawl, with the goal of raising $100,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Myerson told us back in May that the duo’s goal for Haymakers is focused on fundraising for and working towards curing cancer, but that it doesn’t stop there. “I view it that we have a direct and an indirect benefit. Obviously the classic direct benefit is how much money we’re raising for the cause, and I think it’s limitless for how much we can potentially raise,” he says. “But I also think the indirect benefit is that the people who are going through the program are getting a real once-in-a-lifetime experience where they get to train like and perform like a real professional fighter.”

Cancer is not an anonymous, vague disease to either Julie or Andrew. Julie was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma shortly after college, and now celebrates over a decade of being cancer free. By the time Andrew was in college, he’d already lost one high school friend to the disease.

Mercier says that she was inspired to get involved with the cause after seeing her cousin battle leukemia. “Thankfully she is one of the lucky ones and is now cancer free. At one point during her recovery she asked for my professional opinion about exercise and what I thought she could do to rebuild her strength and stamina,” Mercier says. “Since I am a personal trainer it certainly was a fair question, yet I wasn’t quite sure how to answer her. I had never worked with anyone recovering from cancer before and I wasn’t sure what the contraindications could be. That moment is when I decided get certified as a cancer exercise specialist.”

The event is at Club Royale in Boston on Thursday October 17th, and doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets or to donate, click here.