Fight fans and supporters of the Philippines now have something in common besides world champion boxer “Manny” Pacquiao. A charity boxing match at North Bergen’s Schuetzen Park on May 2 will raise money for disaster relief in the storm-devastated region of the country.
“In November of 2013 there was a big typhoon that struck the Philippines,” said Dr. Josef Tuazon, organizer of the boxing event. “The rebuilding process will take years. We wanted to do our part to help, as Hudson County has a large Filipino population.”
The event, dubbed “Fight for a Better Life,” is cosponsored by the Union City Boxing Club and A Better Life Physical Therapy of Jersey City and West New York. It will feature fighters from throughout Hudson County.
“The proceeds will profit the Build-A-Shelter project, a nonprofit organization in partnership with the Philippine consulate of New York,” he said. “The typhoon ravaged areas of the Philippines, that part is poor to begin with, not a metropolis like Manila. It was a poor, impoverished area.”
A portion of the proceeds will also go to Omega Psi Phi, a fraternal organization that gives out college scholarship money to deserving inner city youth.
Pulling it together
Tuazon, founder of A Better Life, conceived of the bout as a way to support the rebuilding effort. A board-certified physical therapist with over 10 years of clinical experience, he is also a former martial artist, professional boxer, Golden Gloves and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion.
Although he hung up his gloves in 2009 when he founded A Better Life, Tuazon, known as the “fight doc,” said, “boxing is a natural way for me to raise some funds for the relief effort.”
“There will be pro fighters in attendance, sports personalities, some stars.” –Josef Tuazon
“I have always been a community minded person,” he said, “volunteering for different organizations. I went to Haiti after the earthquake. Now with two toddlers I’m unable to help personally but wanted to do something, do my part.”
For “Fight for a Better Life” he partnered with Lt. Joe Botti of the Union City Police Department, another former boxer. “He has a boxing club he established in 1989,” said Tuazon. “He’s a great help and a great guy, always helping the community. We’re very fortunate he partnered with us.”
The Union City Boxing Club has produced successful boxers on both the amateur and professional levels. The partnership allowed the event to get sanctioned by USA Boxing, the governing body for amateur boxing in the U.S. “USA Boxing say events have to be done in conjunction with a USA Boxing licensed gym,” explained Tuazon.
To round up fighters, Tuazon and Botti turned to those they knew. “Boxing is a very small world,” said Tuazon. “We reached out to other boxers in the community. They were very supportive. We have policemen fighting, firefighters, white collar workers, top boxers from the area.”
They even received support from the champ, Manny Pacquiao, himself. “One of my buddies and patients was out there helping Manny prepare for a fight,” Tuazon said. “Manny sent us memorabilia to be auctioned off, to raise money.”
Among the items to be included in a raffle and silent auction are gloves autographed by Pacquiao.
Awards for the winners will be designed and created by Sartonk, maker of world championship belts that have graced the waists of the greatest boxers in the world, including Muhammad Ali.
The event is co-sponsored by the Culinary Conference Center at the Hudson County Community College, the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, the Filipino Reporter, TD Bank, Liberty Health – Jersey City Medical Center, CarePoint Health, Knockout Obesity, and other local businesses.
“We hope to make this an annual event,” said Tuazon, explaining that the recipient of the funds would vary annually. “We plan to target different charities throughout the years. We want to keep it grass roots and local, except for special circumstances like this disaster in the Philippines.”
Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr. said, “I would like to thank A Better Life Physical Therapy and the Union City Boxing Club for organizing this friendly boxing game for the benefit of the survivors of super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The funds that will be generated from this event will surely help in the huge reconstruction efforts on the ground. I am glad that a portion of the donations will go to the Build-A-Shelter Project of the Filipino American community in Northeast USA. Through this project, we will fund the construction of permanent shelter for some of the millions of people displaced by Haiyan.”
How to participate
Altogether the event on May 2 should consist of 10 to 15 fights, lasting about four hours. It will take place at Schuetzen Park, 3167 Kennedy Blvd., North Bergen, a popular venue for public sporting events. Live music will be provided by DJ Rawdeelux and PACHADA and a cash bar will be available, along with food from local vendors.
“There will be pro fighters in attendance, sports personalities, some stars,” Tuazon promised. “Boxing is a small world.”
Tickets are $50 for general admission or $100 for VIP ringside seating and can be purchased at the door, or in advance from the Union City Boxing Club or from the A Better Life clinics at 35 Journal Square in Jersey City or 5300 Bergenline in West New York. Tickets are also available from Serratelli Law in Clifton or by calling 866-9NJ-ABLE (866-965-2253).
Ticket purchases and donations can be made out to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation with “Build-A-Shelter Project” in the memo line and mailed to A Better Life Physical Therapy at 35 Journal Square, Fifth Floor, Jersey City, NJ 07306.
Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the first bout around 6:45. A post-fight party at Suite 36 in Manhattan immediately afterward will continue to raise money for the same cause.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.