Boxing In Brooklyn: Boyd Melson Pulls Punches For Spinal Cord Injury Research

October 18, 2012 Thomas Nocera
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On Saturday, October 20, the Barclays Center kicks off a night of World Championship boxing bouts. Over a dozen professional boxers will step into the ring and slug it out in a fight series brought to the borough by former world champion Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Among these fighters is former Bay Ridge resident and Army Reserve Captain, Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson. Along with an illustrious amateur career, Melson has a 10-1 professional record, including four TKOs.

This fighter is stepping into the ring for something more than prize money or bragging rights, however. Melson, a West Point graduate and White Plains native, is sparring for the “Fight to Walk” Foundation, which supports stem cell research and trials for spinal cord injuries. He intends on donating, as he has does in all his professional fights, all of his potential winnings to the foundation.

Melson’s inspiration for slugging it out for this cause is his longtime friend Christan Zaccaginno. Zaccaginno suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident when she was 10, and since meeting Melson in his junior year at West Point, the two have been inseparable.

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“She’s the everything that keeps me going every day with this,” Melson said of  Zaccaginno. The money he is attempting to win for Fight to Walk would go directly towards funding the first clinical stem cell trials in the U.S.

As no government funding is given to such trials, the price tag is around $100,000 per participant, according to the organization. The physicians running the trials hope to include over 20 patients. Melson has purportedly already raised around $90,000.

Melson began his boxing career at West Point as part of a mandatory course requirement. However, he quickly fell in love with the sport.

“Something about it vibrated with my energy levels and I took to it very strongly. I didn’t choose it, it found me,” he said. Melson’s military boxing career includes gold medals in the World Military Boxing Championships, two in the Army Boxing Championships, and another two in the Armed Forces Boxing Championships.

While Melson believes himself to be one of the least known boxers participating in the Barclay’s Center fight series, he is driven by his passionate dedication to his cause.

“You see someone that needs help you help. That’s how I was raised,” he said. “Keep giving what you can when you can. Find something you’re passionate about, find something someone else is passionate about that you love and give.”

Reporting contributed by Heather J. Chin.

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