Things are going to get physical on Saturday night August 31 at the Mashpee Wamponoag Government Center. After several years hiatus, the “Rumble On The Rez” boxing night is returning to the Tribal Grounds.
The free boxing exhibition will be in cooperation with Sober Warriors, a boxing group founded to assist those battling with addiction.
According to organizers, between 12 and 15 fights will be held on Saturday, in a variety of age and weight classes. Between fights, testimonials will be given by boxers who have used their hobby of boxing to battle with their demons.
Sober Warriors is an organization that was founded by Chad Leoncello, a professional addiction counselor who turned to boxing as a way to deal with his own addiction issues three years ago. He said that he walked into a gym and found the means to deal with problems that had him on the verge of losing visitation rights. He admits that he had been tagged by life and boxing has helped him get back up on his feet and punch back.
“The sport has given me a lot, and I’m hoping to give some of that back,” he said. “I walked into a gym and found something. It has given me discipline and helped me to get my life back together.”
Formerly a mortgage broker, Leoncello said that the stresses of life in his early 30s spiraled and that addiction had taken over. He needed a change, and found what he was looking for in the gym. He’s hoping that his work as a counselor, which includes work in Mashpee, can help others that are dealing with similar issues that he was.
“We offer a free class once a week to introduce people to it,” he explained. “We start with an AA meeting for about 20 minutes, and then a boxing class. It has helped me to get my life going in the right direction, and I hope that it can help others, too. I’ve seen it work.”
Boxing is not just a hobby for Leoncello now. Since beginning his training in Brockton the Rehoboth resident has had 13 amateur bouts. He’s posted a 12-1 record as an amateur and will soon sporting an 0-0 record when he makes his professional debut in November at Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
“I’m 35 and I want to do this. If I’m going to do it, the time is now. I still have enough time to get some fights in and give back to the sport that has given me so much,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that night, it’s going to be special.”
The “Rumble On The Rez” will begin at 5 PM at the Tribal Government Center. There outdoor event will include information on how to get involved in the boxing program, as well as resources and information on fighting substance abuse. Tribal officials are expecting 600 to 700 visitors for the event.