LYNN — A Lynn English High School graduate is trying to knock out cancer for charity.
Joe Silva, 36, is in the midst of four months of training with a goal of getting in the boxing ring to fight to KO cancer at the Haymakers for Hope “Rock ‘N Rumble” event at the House of Blues in Boston May 17.
“I will enter the ring and literally fight for my cousin and in my dad’s memory,” Silva said. “My 9-year-old cousin Olivia (recently endured) her 15th chemo treatment as she battles her cancer (brain tumor), the same disease that took my dad’s life when he was only 31 years old.
“Haymakers for Hope is an amazing organization that makes these events possible each year aimed to KO cancer and I am humbled and honored to be part of Rock ‘N Rumble Boston 2018.”
Silva, a Lynn resident, said 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go to fight cancer, but the fighter dictates where the money goes. He said the money he raises is going to fight pediatric cancer as his 9-year-old cousin is fighting a brain tumor.
He said Olivia was first diagnosed at 2 years old and has had many surgeries — she went into remission, and seven years later, she’s still at it. Silva said his cousin had surgery last Friday and again on Monday to adjust the shunt she had that controls pressure on the brain.
Silva said she had a test about six months ago and doctors found that the tumor was still growing. She was put back into chemo and is more than halfway through 24 treatment sessions in 12 months. He said her doctors are staying positive and the chemo seems to be working as the tumor is shrinking again.
Silva is also fighting in memory of his father, Sal, who died from a brain tumor after battling cancer for a couple of years. Silva was 5 years old at the time and was too young to really be aware of what was going on, but remembers his father receiving treatments in his hospital bed at home when he was too weak to move. He also remembers his father playing soccer and performing as the lead singer in a band.
In addition, Silva said a friend of his from high school recently battled cancer but is in remission now and doing well. According to his Haymakers for Hope donation page, Silva is also fighting for his girlfriend, Stephanie Jandrys, a two-time cancer survivor and his biggest supporter.
“It’s pretty amazing because once you sign up and you let people know what you’re doing, everybody starts telling their story,” Silva said. “It’s pretty humbling to see how many people have been affected (by cancer).”
Silva said he became interested in boxing after he started attending Title Boxing Club — where Jandrys is assistant general manager — in July 2016 upon the recommendation of a few friends. He said he started there to get into boxing and get into shape — when he started, he was 186 pounds and feeling lethargic. Now, he’s 152 pounds. He said be basically went from doing nothing to prepping to fight in the boxing ring.
His training regimen is intense — he trains six days a week, including five days at Jim McNally Boxing in North Reading. In order to take part in the event, he said boxers have to be trained by a U.S. certified boxing coach.
Two days a week are devoted to strength and conditioning, which includes calisthenics, burpees and weight lifting. Then he has two days of technical work with the heavy bag, where his coach works with him so he can learn how to punch, move and block. Sparring is involved one day a week, when he gets into the ring with an experienced boxer. Each day of training includes jump roping, shadow boxing and working with the heavy bag.
Silva was drawn to the event because of the opportunity to be able to live the life of a boxer for a few months and fight cancer. He said he’s had some bouts of nerves about getting in the ring, but is excited about the spring’s event.
“Over the next few months, I will experience a grueling process that will test me mentally and physically, but I look forward to each and every step and I am excited to get started,” Silva said. “Boxing at least once at an amateur level has been a dream of mine that I never thought would be possible and now I get to do it for a great cause — raising awareness and money for cancer research and treatment in the name and memory of loved ones.”
Silva is required to raise at least $7,500, but his goal on his page is $25,000. His girlfriend did Belles of the Brawl in October, another Haymakers for Hope event, and raised more than $24,000. He said he joked that he was going to beat her fundraising total, but he just wants to raise as much as possible.