Correctional officer uses ‘sweet science’ to fight cancer

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — You have to have a good reason to take on your first boxing match in your 50s.

Kathy Lyons has several good reasons, as she trains six days a week for her first fight. She’s a correctional officer captain by day, but boxer-in-training whenever she can get to her West Warwick gym.

When she takes the ring next month, the rookie boxer won’t be alone on the canvas. The bouts with cancer faced by her daughter Jody, her sister Mareen, her sister-in-law, her parents and her partner’s parents will all be on her mind, fueling her.

“It’s those people who are closest to my heart that complete my heart,” Lyons told us during one of her recent, grueling training sessions. “That’s why I’m doing this.”

But she acknowledges there are others who motivate her as well.

“If kids can battle chemo, radiation, and get up every day and smile,” Lyons said, her voice cracking a bit. “I can get up in this ring and do what I have to do. And I’ll be 51 by the time the fight comes along. It’s just a number. ”

Lyons is boxing for the fundraiser Haymakers For Hope to raise money for cancer research. Along with her personal connection to the disease, she has a trainer who knows a few things about the sweet science. Jaime “Hurricane” Clampitt is in her corner.

“She was right into it right away,” Clampitt said, as Lyons worked on her footwork between the ropes. “So, it’s been a really easy training camp because she works really hard.”

“It is so personal,” Lyons added. “And for me to just give my time and fight to knock out cancer. It’s worth ever ounce of sweat and blood that I’ve been expending.”

Lyons roars into the ring next month in Boston, hoping to win her match, but also ecstatic about the journey to prepare for her first bout.

Send story ideas to Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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