Friday night fight — NJ dad boxing for his terminally ill son
Until recently, Manalapan resident Jim Raffone had never stepped into a boxing ring.
But on Friday night, in honor of his son and everyone else battling the fatal genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the 50-year-old is putting on the gloves and getting into the ring for a real bout that'll air live on television from Atlantic City.
"I don't care if I get knocked down or knocked out," Raffone told New Jersey 101.5. "As far as I'm concerned, I already won with getting on this card."
Through ticket sales and sponsorships related to the fight, Raffone's efforts are raising funds for his nonprofit JAR of Hope, named for his son Jamesy (James Anthony Ruffone) who was diagnosed at 4 years old with Duchenne in 2013.
The charity experienced an 80% drop in fundraising in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Raffone said. So when he heard about a Celebrity Boxing event scheduled for June at Showboat Hotel, he made it his goal to get involved.
"I have this personality of being relentless," he said. "With my son being terminally ill and just watching him progressively get worse over the days, I had to do something to raise awareness and raise funds to continually push a therapy forward," Raffone said.
Raffone is taking on a professional wrestler in the amateur event that features up to five two-minute rounds. The main event pits former NBA player Lamar Odom against pop star Aaron Carter.
For the past 10 months, Raffone has been training in Freehold, and lost more than 40 pounds in the process. He's doing this for his son and JAR of Hope, but he also doesn't want to embarrass himself in front of the live and Pay-Per-View crowds, he said.
"I've warned (Jamesy) several times because he's going to be at the fight ... that he may see Daddy get punched in the face ... and he may see Daddy even go down and hit the floor. But rest assured I will get up and continue to fight," Raffone said.