Van stolen from local boxing legend

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been a long recovery for Gary Balletto, who had just started feeling like he was getting his life back again — until a thief struck and ruined his progress.

The legendary local boxer’s van was stolen Thursday morning, putting his livelihood on hold again.

After breaking six vertebrae in an accident in 2013, Balletto was paralyzed from the chest down. He’s been working hard ever since, determined to walk again. He’s also working hard to earn a living, choosing not to collect disability. After months of rehabilitation, he had gotten his construction company back in business.

Now, he’s been dealt another setback — the theft of his van, which had five to six thousand dollars worth of equipment inside, including compressors, generators and nail guns. It was stolen from his employee’s driveway in Providence.

“I’ve been out of work for the first year, year and a half,” Balletto said, “and I just started doing some small jobs again, so we just got up and running, and then I get hit with that.”

After filing a police report, he got the word out on Facebook as well, asking everyone to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

“If anyone sees it, there’s lettering on the side that says Balletto Construction, that’s very hard to miss,” he said.

The post has already been shared over one thousand times, and Balletto said he believes it will be found.

“I think this van’s going to turn up and I think these people are going to get caught,” he said. “I think they’re going to be sorry for what they did.”

He’s prepared for the possibility that the equipment inside will be gone, but the setback is hardly enough to bring down a man who has already beaten the odds.

“I’ve overcome a lot already,” Balletto said. “I’m lucky to be alive today, and I still have many great things to do in my life.”

Balletto said he’s already started receiving tips, including one from a woman who claimed to have seen the van in Warwick this morning.

Anyone with information about the vehicle’s whereabouts should call Providence Police.

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