Chants of “Eddie! Eddie!” filled the Huntington Hilton on Nov. 20 as Lynbrook resident Ed “Formerly Fast Eddie” Parry entered the ring for the 14th annual Long Island Fight for Charity boxing event.
“It was really intimidating until I heard the people who were very vocal chanting my name,” said Parry, 60, “and I was like, ‘What am I doing? Now I really have to do it.’”
Parry entered the arena to theme music he’d chosen, “Tubthumper,” a.k.a. “I Get Knocked Down,” by Chumbawamba. Parry, the director of summer programs at Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville, fought Jeff “The Tasmanian Devil” Goldstein, 50, of Middle Village, Queens. They were the third matchup of the night, and their bout went the distance, three one-minute rounds. Beacuse it was a charity event, both of their hands were raised and no winner was announced. Parry noted, however, that the judges will mail the results to him later this month.
The event was the culmination of several months of hard work for Parry. He attended 40 training sessions with Billy Strigaro and Joanne Hutchins at the Westbury Boxing Club from June to November, which included a range of workouts and sparring sessions with opponents half his age. He said after the fight that he intended to return to the club regularly.
The money raised at the event went to local nonprofit organizations, including Long Island Community Chest, the Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. Jamie Austin, Jeffry Cohen and Matt Silver founded Long Island Fight for Charity in 2003, and have raised more than $1.1 million for local charities. Austin said that he and Cohen had been friends and business partners for years, and in 2000, they founded Community Chest, which provides financial assistance to Nassau and Suffolk residents who have short-term financial crises. Silver was a board member for Community Chest, and came up with the idea of starting a charity boxing event. Their goal was to exceed $100,000 with this year’s card. Parry’s bout was one of nine, four of which went the distance, while five were stopped early.
He had additional motivation for stepping through the ropes for what he said was his first bout in many years. The event’s rules state that every boxer must raise at least $5,000, and anyone who brings in more than $10,000 can divide the extra funds between Fight for Charity and the cause of his or her choice.
Parry shared a story about his LuHi colleagues Tom and Kim Kuck, whose daughter, Amanda, died of brain cancer at age 5. In Amanda’s memory, the Kucks started the New York chapter of The Cure Starts Now, whose mission is to find a cure for cancer. As of press time, Parry had raised about $13,500, making him the top fundraiser, but donations were still being tallied.
The event may have been for charity, but Parry said the fighters took it very seriously, and that his bout with Goldstein, an attorney, was intense. “It seemed like he came out angry, so I had to respond pretty much right away, and so I did, but the pace definitely slowed in the second round,” Parry said. “You know you have the third round coming and it’s your last minute up there, and you just let it go. By all accounts, the people enjoyed the match.”
Parry had about 60 supporters in attendance on fight night, including his wife, Jackie; their three sons, EJ, Joe and Jack; and Donatis Kupsas, a Lithuanian student who is living with the family. Parry said that Jackie was the first person to make sure he was OK after the bout was over. She noted that she and her sister, Peggy, were surprised at first to see how physical the fights were. When it was time for her husband to fight, she added, she could barely watch.
“By the time Ed went, I was hiding behind someone watching it,” Jackie said, “but it was good. He did great.”
Ed noted that safety was paramount. Before the participants fight, the rules state, they must attend at least 20 sessions with a boxing trainer, pass a physical and be certified by USA Boxing. When he arrived at the Hilton, he had to check in with doctors and judges and then get his hands taped.
Parry said he developed many bonds with his fellow boxers, but once the bouts started, friendships between fighters were put on hold.
“You’re sparring with these guys and hanging with these guys, and as soon as the bell rings you’re trying to beat the crap out of each other,” he said with a laugh. “So that’s the interesting part.”
Parry said he wasn’t sure if he would take part again next year, but added that he intends to be involved in more fundraisers. For her part, Jackie said that one fight was enough. “It’s a good cause, but maybe he should pass it down and have someone else try it,” she said. “He might do it again. He loved it.”