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Thrilla in Camilla Thrills

 Thrilla in Camilla gave everyone something to talk about. The 5th Annual Thrilla in Camilla drew in crowds from near and far to watch FDNY Boxing duke it out with some worthy opponents, to root for their favorites in grudge matches and to raise money for some of America’s heroes.

On Friday, July 16, the St. Camillus schoolyard was packed as people came out to FDNY Boxing’s first home-turf event in two years. FDNY Boxing dominated in several of the fights over opponents from various Massachusetts police departments like FDNY’s James Gennari of Ladder Company 124. The anticipated female match between Nicole Malpeso of Engine Company 76 and Ashleigh More of the Massachusetts State Police was unfortunately canceled.

Some of the other most anticipated fights of the night were the grudge matches. Many came out from Xavier and Xaverian high schools to watch Xaverian’s Jeremiah Ryan take on Xavier’s Jimmy McGovern. With both teens not holding back any punches, it was a high-energy match but ultimately Xaverian came on top with Jeremiah Ryan taking the win. In another must-watch fight between FDNY and EMS, John Cadotte of EMS Station 4 won over Ladder Company 114’s Chris Livolsi. In the FDNY grudge match, Gary Schmidt of Ladder Company 17 won over Dan Palmieri of Ladder Company 169.

The last fight of the night was one locals were waiting for—the local grudge match. Reigning champ Rich Pontieri, retired from Local 79, was back in the ring, this time against a worthy opponent—Jimmy McGovern of DSNY. The two went at it for about a minute, with both getting some solid punches in, but ultimately one strong punch by Pontieri took down McGovern, earning him the win for the night.

While things got tense in the ring, it was all for a good cause. During intermission, the heroes of the night were honored. The event benefitted Building Homes for Heroes and the Matt McDevitt Children’s Education Fund. The honorary guest, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Matthew Benny, who will receive a home through Building Homes for Heroes, took to the stage, as well as past honorees. Jackie, the wife of the late Matt McDevitt, a FDNY firefighter who died of a rare cancer, leaving behind two young children, was also honored. Both received $20,000 checks made possible by the ticket sales and other fundraising efforts related to Thrilla in Camilla. As they took to the ring, the crowd erupted in cheers of “USA! USA!”

After the event, Pontieri and McGovern made up over a few beers at RBQ and the after party continued at Whit’s End.

For more information about the next FDNY Boxing events, check out www.FDNYBoxing.com

Story and Photos
By Katie McFadden

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