The holiday season is upon on us, if indications at the pharmacy down the street, which has two aisles packed with Xmas merch barking at patrons, are to be believed, or the fact that Sirius has their holiday music channel ramped up already.
Good will, ample cheer dispensed to all good souls, gifts to be bestowed and received, these are hallmarks of this time of year, when we are reminded to take stock of the bounty of positives we enjoy in our day to day. Shelter, food, discretionary income with which we can use to snap up baubles to wrap and hand to our cherished friends and family members who share our planetary sphere, we acknowledge these blessings. But of course, for some, for whom fate hasn't been as kind, the holidays can conjure worries, and questioning of where to find that bit of extra cash to get gifts for offspring.
Heather Hardy finds herself, on a recent Saturday morning, in pondering mode.
The 34 year old fighter, the boxing pride of Gerritsen Beach, training at Gleason's in DUMBO, where she lives, was looking at the Con Ed bill. They are the electric company in these parts, and Con Ed is something of a dirty word when uttered in certain circles from June to October, when the bloated bills detonate bank accounts of the paycheck to paycheck people, the ones who choose not to sauté themselves in clammy apartments in warmer weather months.
She did the math, did Hardy, an 18-0 pugilist signed to Dibella Entertainment, and tried to plot out her budget for November, and beyond.
She trains white collar boxing clients at Gleason's, sandwiching that around her own workouts for pugilism and MMA, which she started training in earlier this year, to widen her options.
“I figured I would have had a fight set for December, after fighting August 21,” she told me. “But with this chill, slowdown, freeze out, to boxing in New York, whatever you want to call it, that isn't the case. I would have known, ‘OK, I can be late with my Con Ed, but I will sell tickets to my fight, and get a purse and be able to pay off the full bill then.' But now I can't do that. I thought this would have been solved but now it's dragging on and I'm sorta terrified.”
She beyond scared now, as the days and weeks and now months pass, and pro boxing remains dormant in NY. That is because new legislation was formed which is supposed to benefit the health and well being and safety of the fighters, and it calls for each fighter on a pro combat show to be insured for one million dollars if they suffer a catastrophic injury to their head. Sounds good, on surface; but no insurer has been found who will write a policy that passes muster with state regulators and is at the same time viable for boxing promoters who usually struggle to end up in the black on a promotion in a region where costs of doing business are inflated. Supposedly, a policy is being assessed by a government finance board but the boxing community has received precious little in the way of information regarding the makeup of that plan and when it will be okayed. Hardy and loads of other folks with literal skin in the game hope ASAP. Con Ed isn't overly patient, though, and landlords even less so.
“I've now been doing 15, 16 hours, between training clients, training myself, going to other gyms to do MMA, and I look to the holidays and I'm thinking, the gifts are going to be thin this year,” Hardy said. “I'm asking the Governor, Governor Cuomo, to understand, that there are so many of us that don't have a financial cushion, savings to dip into. We need him to put the pressure on and get boxing back on track in New York. Peoples' livelihoods are literally at stake.”
I've heard folks, after offering a respectful “sorry,” tell Hardy and others to bring their business elsewhere. It's not so simple, that Plan B. “I've worked really hard to build up my fanbase, and I can't just take a fight in Canada, or Pennsylvania, and hope and expect people to pay so much to travel.
“Again, I'm asking Governor Cuomo to find that holiday spirit for by the boxing community. We appreciate a push to beef up medical coverage…but that's null if we can't fight here!”