It was a night of great fights, loud crowds, and lots of fundraising. Long Island Fight for Charity went off without a hitch Monday night, November 20. Ticket holders and pay-per-view buyers watched ten tough fights between the volunteer boxers, who have spent the last eight months fundraising for various charities around Long Island.

Throughout the night, there were a total of twenty boxers fighting in ten bouts. The first two bouts consisted of professional boxers who were in the ring for three two-minute rounds. The rest of the bouts consisted of three one-minute rounds. Every boxer was able to have a minute of rest after each round.

As they train for their fight, boxers who sign up are expected to raise $10,000 before heading into the ring on the night of the main event. All of the boxers were able to earn that goal, and some surpassed it with flying colors.  

Gina Farese enters the ring

There was a mix of emotions for first-time boxer Gina Farese before her fight in bout five.

“I was excited, and then I was nervous, and now I’m excited and nervous.” Farese has been training since May; however, no amount of punches on a bag or in sparring can prepare anyone for the real thing. Farese was this year’s top fundraiser, raising over $100,000 for LI Fight for Charity, The Genesis School, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Long Island Home Builders Care.

“I surrounded myself with really great people, I have some really great charities that I am giving to between Breast Cancer and Long Island Home Builders Care,” said Farese.

Farese provided one of the largest and loudest crowds of the night. Groups of people held up signs of her face, all in support of her endeavors both in fundraising and the fight. “To me, that was the most important part.”

Just a quarter of the spectators that were present at the 2023 LI Fight for Charity Event

The Messenger spoke with Farese before her fight to see how she was preparing to get in the ring.

“I think there is a lot of just trying to maintain your breathing and focus. When you have so many people around, you’re trying to hear just one voice, and that’s your coach.” While training Farese tried to focus on drowning out the distractions around her. Through the noise she knew she was going to have to hear only one voice to help her through the fight. “It was the biggest thing for me to overcome, from the first time I hit a speed bag to today, that was my biggest challenge.”

After the fight Farese told The Messenger it was easy to drown out the crowd. She was so focused after stepping into the ring, what she needed to do, that hearing her coach’s voice was soon the only thing she could hear.  

Farese fought Alyssa Smith of Middle Island in the fifth bout of the evening. 

Gina Farese (blue) throws a punch at Alyssa Smith (red) (Credit – David Conn)

Robert McBride, of West Islip, is not only the second top fundraiser of the event, but he is also the oldest boxer that fought in the ring this year. At the age of 63, McBride raised over $60,000 for Education and Assistance Corporation, Operation Healing Forces, and Winters Center for Autism, along with LI Fight for Charity and The Genesis School.

“I can take a couple of lumps for them, that’s for sure. They are very worthwhile charities that all deserve the money,” says McBride.

McBride is also a first-time boxer, though he has been a fan of the sport all his life. “This brings back memories of my dad, God rest his soul, he would have been here. I remember watching the Fraizer-Ali fights together, so this is in my father’s honor, in a way.”

McBride grew up in Brooklyn to Irish-Immigrant parents, two people to whom he attributes his hardworking nature. He honored them and his Irish culture Monday night, by wearing an Irish flag on his robe. Those who came out to support him wore “fight crew” tee-shirts colored with green, white, and orange and waved Irish flags.

Robert McBride (red) and Tom Gibson (blue)

McBride fought Tom Gibson of Glen Cove in bout three of the evening.

Long Island Fight for Charity is more than just a fundraising event. The process of volunteering as a boxer, working to meet the fundraising goal, and meeting fellow community and businesspeople who care about our Island is what makes this event so special. They call it the “most unique charitable fundraiser” not just because it is a boxing match, but because it connects our residents through a common goal: boosting up our community.

“If anything, the best thing is the people that I met through this, the things my kids got to learn from this, the way it brought my business together. My whole team is here to support this event. To me, that is everything. At the end of the day, for me to be able to show my kids that when I go to work, it’s more than just work, it’s more than just a paycheck. It’s building a reputation and a community,” says Farese, who involved her children and employees in many of her fundraising events for the fight.

In a recent interview, Farese told The Messenger that many of her events allowed women in construction to feel comfortable networking with fellow industry professionals. It provided them the opportunity to meet new people and collaborate with like-minded individuals.

The excitement, positivity and sportsmanship throughout every fight was contagious. The crowd was exhilarated with every hit, galvanizing the fighters through each round. Each and every boxer should be proud of the work they’ve put into this event. There wasn’t a single loser that stepped out of that ring Monday night.

“Overall, it’s been an amazing experience. I was told before I got involved that this would be life-changing and I can absolutely say, it was life-changing,” says Farese.

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Kaitlyn Foley is an Entertainment and Lifestyle Reporter and Staff Writer for the Messenger Papers. She is the weekly author of our Seasonal Column on Page 17. As a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, Kaitlyn has a passion for fashion journalism and creative writing. In addition to writing, Kaitlyn also works as one of our Media and Website Associates.