Lynbrook resident Ed “Formerly Fast Eddie” Parry was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily as he stood in the center of the ring at the Westbury Boxing Club. He was frantically throwing punches as his trainer, Billy Strigaro, shouted words of encouragement.
“Turn the body, come on!” Strigaro yelled as the sound of Parry’s gloves hitting Strigaro’s target mitts echoed throughout the gym. More than a dozen boxers of many different ages were working out around Parry, some sparring in another ring, others hitting punching bags. But Parry was locked in, focused on Strigaro.
Parry, 60, the director of summer programs at Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville, has been working out with Strigaro and trainer Joanne Hutchins two to three times a week since June as he prepares to fight for a cause.
He volunteered to take part in the 14th annual Long Island Fight for Charity boxing event on Nov. 20 at the Huntington Hilton. He will box Jeff “The Tasmanian Devil” Goldstein, 50, of Middle Village, Queens, in three one-minute rounds.
“You don’t realize how long a minute is until you’re in there and someone’s punching you in the face,” Parry said. “My form is good when I’m hitting the heavy bag, but once they start punching you in the face, it turns you in a different direction.”
The money raised will go to local non-profit organizations, including Long Island Community Chest, the Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential.
Jamie Austin, one of the co-founders of the event, said the Community Chest provides financial assistance for Nassau and Suffolk residents who have short-term financial crises. “Our job is, we want to keep you in your job and keep you in your house and give you an opportunity to better yourself,” he said.
Austin founded the event with Jeffry Cohen and Matt Silver in 2003. Since then, they have raised more than $1.1 million for local charities, and their goal is to break the $100,000 mark with this year’s card. As of press time, Parry had raised more than $10,000 for the cause, and Austin praised him for being the top fundraiser.
“He understands fundraising,” Austin said. “It’s been great for us from a fundraising standpoint, and it’s been great for him from a training standpoint. He’s been a wonderful part of the organization.”
Parry also has some extra motivation for stepping into the ring. The rules for the event state that every boxer must raise at least $5,000, and that anyone who raises more than $10,000 can split the remainder of the profits between Fight for Charity and the cause of his choice.
Parry shared a story about his co-workers 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, an organization with a mission to find a cure for cancer. Parry said he hopes to raise at least $15,000 to support it.
“That has been my goal since the beginning,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with the people that work here at LuHi through the summer programs. … That part of it has been overwhelming as far as the support from those people. And then you throw on top of it friends and family who are buying tickets or donating because they can’t make it.”
Many of Parry’s friends and family members will attend the event, but his wife, Jackie, said she wasn’t sure how much she could watch. Jackie said when her husband first approached her about boxing, she told him no. Once she realized it was for charity, she changed her stance.
“It’s a good cause and it’s keeping him healthy,” she said. “I’m a little nervous, but he hasn’t been hurt so far, and I don’t think he would tell me even if he was.”
Jackie said she plans to attend the fight with their three sons, EJ, Joe and Jack, and with Donatis Kupsas, a Lithuanian student that is living with the Parrys. “They think it’s great,” Jackie said. “I think they’re looking forward to seeing him in the ring. They’re boys. They’re men. They’re crazy.”
When Parry enters the arena — to his personally selected and fitting entrance theme of “Tubthumping” (a.k.a. “I Get Knocked Down”) by Chumbawamba — Jackie said she might have to turn away. “Nobody wants their husband beat up,” she said with a laugh.
Though Parry said he might be nervous once the bell rings, he noted that he would also be very prepared. Each boxer participating in the event had to attend 20 sessions with a personal boxing trainer, pass a physical examination and get certified by U.S.A. Boxing.
Parry attended 40 training sessions in the lead up to the fight. He praised his trainers, and said the Westbury Boxing Club is a welcoming place for people of all ages to train. He noted that he plans to continue working out there after the bout.
Parry’s sessions begin with stretching, and then everything is timed in three-minute intervals. He shadow boxes, then does four to five rounds on a heavy bag, then two to three rounds on a tether bag and two or three more rounds on a speed bag. When his trainers are present, he then gets into the ring and hits their target mitts for two or three rounds. He finishes the sessions with jump roping. He is usually there for about an hour and a half.
Though his opponent is 10 years younger than him, Parry said he has been sparring with people in their 30s, so he expects to be ready for the challenge. He noted that he stepped in the ring with Goldstein two weeks ago, and found that they were evenly matched.
“The whole thing is you think you know how to throw a punch, but you don’t know how to throw a punch,” Parry said. “I get yelled at all the time because I’m too tense.”
Parry said he has some boxing experience, but he has not stepped into the ring for a fight in a long time. Comparing his present self to his younger days is where he came up with the “Formerly Fast Eddie” moniker.
“When I was an athlete in high school and college, I got the name ‘Fast Eddie,’ and there’s no fast left,” Parry said with a laugh. “So, ‘formerly fast’ fits perfectly and after 40 training sessions, there really is nothing left.”