Karen Areyzaga: Third time’s the charm
Tuesday, September 10 2013
In October of 2012, Julie Kelly and the Myerson brothers were at Landsdowne Pub, holding a cocktail event for past Haymakers for Hope competitors, when an unfamiliar woman approached them and said, “I want to fight.” Fast-forward one year, and Karen Areyzaga has a fight. Prior to crashing the cocktail party, Karen had signed up twice before to fight for H4H. But with hundreds of applications for just 26 spots in each event, plus the requirement of finding a suitable opponent, Karen hadn’t landed a fight. Her official boxing record still read a stubborn 0-0, 0 KO. Karen knows a thing or two about persistence though, and because of it, the paralegal from Medford, MA will step in the ring for her first official USA Boxing sanctioned bout on October 17th. Just like they say: the third time’s the charm. Karen’s foray into the world of boxing began in 2011. She found boxing, not in search of an acceptable outlet for aggression, as some find the sport, but rather in search of a healthier lifestyle. A self-professed “girly girl,” Karen wasn’t attracted to sports as a child. But after years of sitting behind a desk as a paralegal, Karen was anxious to break out of the sedentary lifestyle. She hired Lindsey Zwart to be her personal trainer and quickly found herself enrolling in boxing classes at Avalon Fitness in Charlestown. A couple of months later, Avalon’s then-boxing trainer, Jose Cetina, noticed Karen’s steady progress and suggested she start training at his other gym, the Cambridge YMCA. Karen remembers being more than a little intimidated about the change; “I was so scared. I was like, ‘Are there going to be real fighters there? Are they going to be hitting each other?’” It was there that she met Melissa and Mara, H4H participants in 2011. She also met Jose’s fellow boxing trainer, Dan Parks, who would eventually encourage Karen to give H4H a shot. In terms of fitness, Karen has come a long way since she first strapped on a pair of gloves at Avalon Fitness. She has lost over 100 pounds, competed in obstacle-style Spartan Races, and has led a more active lifestyle that helped encourage her friends and family to get off the couch and join her. For all her personal goals, however, Karen views H4H as an opportunity to support cancer research in ways she hasn’t already. In her career as an intellectual property paralegal, Karen has proudly supported cancer-fighting organizations like Agios Pharmaceuticals, Dana Farber, and Boston Children’s Hospital. Her experience supporting these cancer-fighters is enough to cast some perspective on the all-important fight night. “Win or lose this fight, I already won. I’m going to be raising money for a great cause. I’m going to show my friends and family what I love to do. And I’m going to feel amazing on that day. So I already won.” On October 17th, Karen will celebrate a journey that began with the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and quickly escalated to the training regimen of a committed boxer. Her journey will culminate before a crowd of 1,000 of her closest friends and family, a fact that is not lost on Karen. She was in that crowd two years ago, watching her training mentors prove their toughness. Now it’s her turn to show off her newfound toughness. “Hopefully I can inspire someone else to want to get out there and do Haymakers too,” she says. All it takes is a desire to box, and a dash of persistence.