SUMMIT, NJ - There are many ways to fight cancer and Chris Keneally has been training since July 9 to literally "fight" to defeat cancer.
The sales executive from Summit and former New Providence resident is set to get in the ring with attorney Nick Lageman to raise money for cancer research through "Haymakers for Hope.' Keneally and Lageman will battle for two three-minute rounds on Thursday, Nov. 6 in New York's Best Buy Theater.
The two boxers will raise money when people donate under their name at Haymakers for Hope, under the Tale of the Tape section. As of Oct. 30, Keneally had raised $14,907 in donations.
"The reason that I took on this challenge is mainly because two of my college friends, a husband and wife, participated," Keneally said. "The wife fought last October in Boston and her husband participated in May of this year. It was inspiring to follow their journey to fight night.
"Certainly you would be hard-pressed to find someone that has not had a friend, family friend, work friend that hasn’t been affected by cancer. I myself have had family members, friends from college and work colleagues fall victim to cancer and I wanted to do my part."
The 6-7, 275-pound Keneally, now 42, is a former college and professional football player. He played at the University of Rhode Island, then for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football Leauge. He also was an offensive lineman for the New York City franchise in Arena Football. But he hadn't been a competitive athlete for years, so he had to do a lot of training to get ready for this fight.
"For me, that meant sacrificing to get up at 4 a.m. five days a week to train at Mendez Boxing Gym in NYC," Keneally said. "I have been training since July 9th for this fight. During this time I have not only lost 36 pounds, but have realized that there is so much more that I can accomplish with my life.
"I have been pushed harder than I have ever been pushed, both physically and mentally. This has been a transformational experience for me. Through the use of Social Media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, I have connected to cancer survivors and organizations to help raise money for research. I have had so much support from my family and friends, it has been amazing."
For the event, the money Keneally raises will go to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
"It will be donated in the name of Jack Brill, the late father of one of my closest friends at LinkedIn," Keneally said. "Her father passed away three years ago and I wanted to do something that was meaningful for someone close to me. Certainly, I could have done it in the name of my grandfather or grandmother, who passed from cancer 31 and 12 years ago, respectively, but this was more important to me to do this for her.
"The organization is fantastic and I am looking forward to joining the board of directors once the my fight is over, but as we say, “Not every fight ends at the bell!”