(WPRI) — “There’s two things you can’t teach a fighter – and that’s to be able to punch and to be able to take a punch.”
Wise words from local boxer Gary Balletto, Sr., who retired in 2006 with an impressive 31-3-2 record and 26 KOs.
Gary Sr. was paralyzed last year after an accident in his backyard, which makes it that much more meaningful for him to watch his son walk in his footsteps.
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Gary Balletto, Jr. is already 6-1 with 5 KOs in his career heading into next weekend’s fight in front of thousands at Mohegan Sun.
“It all came as like a big shock at first, due to all these events happening. Him being hurt, myself getting hurt in training for mixed martial arts, it all seemed to fall into the right place like it was almost meant to be, to box,” said Gary Jr.
Getting to the professional level is no simple task though, you have to relentlessly train, possess talent, and of course win some fights.
“To pass that point from amateur to professional, you really have to make it, you know, not just a profession or a hobby. It’s got to be a lifestyle,” Gary Jr. added. “It’s now coming to a point where I have to fight the tougher fighters a little above my experience level, and show myself and everybody else that I belong in that ring, more so than my opponent.”
When the big fight at Mohegan Sun arrives on May 31 Gary’s father won’t have to throw any punches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a grueling experience for him.
“I’ll be honest, I get more nervous with him that I did with my own fights,” Gary Sr. said. “But of course you worry more about your son than yourself.”
“I just think about: ‘what did my dad do to get where he got?’ ‘what can i do get further?'” added Gary Jr. “Every day it’s just an experience that, it changes you, it makes you a little more aware, a little more alert, a little more responsible, and all the way around you just become a completely different being, being a fighter.”