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Norfolk Woman Gearing Up for Charity Boxing Match Belles of the Brawl Set for October 12

Kara Lightowler hopes to knock out cancer on Oct. 12.

By Grace Allen

Shortly after moving to Boston a few years ago, Kara Lightowler was invited by a new friend to attend an event called Belles of the Brawl.  Lightowler was initially reluctant, unsure of what exactly the event was about. But she went anyway and was deeply moved by what she experienced that night.

“I was just blown away, and thought ‘this is the coolest thing ever,’” said Lightowler. “It was emotional but also so empowering. It was like a sporting event, but everyone was on the same team. And I knew I had to do this.”

Belles of the Brawl is part of Haymakers for Hope, an organization that raises money and awareness to help “knock out cancer.” The all-female, amateur participants in Belles of the Brawl take on an opponent for three two-minute rounds during the charity boxing event, which will take place this year on October 12 at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.

After applying to the charity fight for several years in a row, Lightowler was finally chosen.

“I opened my email on June 8, the day after my birthday, and I saw that I got in,” said Lightowler, who recently moved to Norfolk. “It was just the best birthday gift ever.”

Lightowler, 33, will be one of thirty-two women participating in sixteen boxing matches on October 12. The event adheres to USA Boxing rules and regulations, so boxers are paired with someone compatible in age and weight.

Participants are assigned to a local boxing gym and train forfour months leading up to the event. Lightowler, who has run eighteen marathons, including the Boston Marathon this past April, had never boxed before.

“I thought I was in shape, but boxing is just a totally different breed,” she said. “There’s so much more technique to it than people realize. It’s foot skills, eye coordination, defense skills, the movement of your entire body.”

She trains at Elite Boxing & Fitness in North Attleborough. Paul Locke is her trainer, along with Norfolk resident Dawne Galetta, who herself participated in the 2021 Belles of the Brawl. 

“They’re just amazing trainers and between the two of them I have learned so much already,” said Lightowler. 

Belles of the Brawl participants raise money for a charity of their choice, and Lightowler has committed to raising $10,000 for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which treated her best friend’s mother, Maria, who passed away from pancreatic cancer, and another friend’s sister, Abbie, who had breast cancer as a young mom. 

Signing up to fight for loved ones who didn’t sign up for cancer is one way Lightowler feels she can show support and honor their battles with the dreaded disease. Getting punched is nothing compared to what others have gone through, she says.

“I’m not afraid of getting hit,” said the federal probation officer. “I just want to give the other girl a good fight and not have regrets that I didn’t train enough. Similar to running a marathon, you have to fully commit to the training as well as embrace getting punched in the face in hope of landing some punches yourself.”

Newly married, Lightowler says her husband as well as other family members were initially apprehensive but are now supportive and excited for her. She’s also very close to her six young nieces and nephews, and notes they’ve always shown up and cheered her on when she runs marathons.

“I know they can’t come to the fight, and they might not even fully comprehend what it’s about,” she said. “But I’d like to think that I’m showing them that girls, especially, can do anything.”

For more information, or to donate to Lightowler, visit Tickets for the event were still available at press time.

The MGM Music Hall at Fenway is located at 2 Lansdowne St., Boston. Fight Night begins at 7:30 p.m.