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Area duo hitting ring in quest to knock out cancer

Mike O’Malley was out in his neighborhood jogging on New Year’s Day, a sight that his neighbors weren’t quite used to.

One said to his wife, “Looks like Mike has a New Year’s resolution.”

To which she replied, “Not just any resolution – he thinks he’s a boxer.”

Well, guess what – between now and May 15, the 2003 Nashua High School alum really is.

O’Malley and another friend, Bishop Guertin alum Jon Pastor, are going to be boxing in the charity event for Haymakers For Hope at the House of Blues in Boston on May 15 at 7:30 p.m. It won’t be against each other, as they are in different weight classes, but it will be part of a series of three-round bouts as the organization raises money for cancer research.

Milford’s Cameron Conley, the four-year-old son of friends, Joe and Val Conley, is suffering from a rare form of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and the two are fighting in his honor.

So how do two guys get into the boxing world, for however brief a time it may be? The pair, who went to school together at Elm Street, didn’t know the other was doing it until they saw each other at a Haymakers orientation. In fact, they hadn’t seen each other for 15 years.

“That was really cool,” Pastor said. “That gave me some motivation, knowing there was some guy I could commiserate with for sure.”

For O’Malley, a North Easton, Mass., resident, he was at work in Boston managing a software group when someone asked him if he had heard about it. He hadn’t done something charitable in a while, was the father to two little ones, “and I didn’t think it would be this. I sent in a token application, ended up getting selected, and away we go.”

Pastor, who handles major accounts for a health company in Newton, Mass., was more familiar with the organization, having already rooted on another fellow Guertin grad, Mark Avery, who fought a few years ago (Avery is actually director of the program now). And he has donated to the Jimmy Fund and worked at Dana Farber before.

“With Haymakers, I’ve always thought it would be cool to do it,” he said. “But I never had the gall to say I would do it.”

Pastor was watching a boxing movie at home – he thinks it might have been “Bleed For This” about the life of Providence fighter Vinny Pazienza – and decided to do it. “It was pretty inspirational,” he said. “I said ‘If I’m going to do it, I better do it now.’ My wife and I just had a newborn and I figured it was going to get harder and harder to focus my attention on it.”

According to Pastor, there were 250 applicants. Part of the application is your athletic history, work background, and how much you feel you will be able to raise.

“You show you have some dedication to fitness sometime in the past,” Pastor said. “So you don’t sign up and not show up for

training.”

The goal for the event in total is $750,000, and each signed up for $30,000 and are hoping to bring in at least $25,000. O’Malley and Pastor each got an emails just after Christmas saying they were selected.

That’s the easier part. The hard part?

Becoming a boxer when you’ve never been one

before.

Neither had ever boxed before outside of what O’Malley described as “a couple of messing around fitness classes.”

“I hope,” Pastor said, “that it’s better than it is now.”

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