All-women boxing event raising awareness about breast cancer
It was a first for the Youngstown area, an All-Women's Boxing event that has a special meaning.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, female boxers from several states and even Canada came together to celebrate their sport while raising awareness of the disease.
Those behind the event dealing with a recent loss that we've reported on this past week. They told 21 News they knew the event still had to move forward.
Fighting to knock out breast cancer. Friday welcomed the area's first all-women's boxing event hosted by the Youngstown Salem Boxing Gym at Stambaugh Auditorium.
"Any survivors and anybody who's still fighting, we're fighting with you," said Bambi Linam with the Youngstown Salem Boxing Club.
"People need to be made aware of early detection and the importance of mammograms each year," explained Tonya Kline, a breast cancer advocate. "How your early mammograms can actually save lives."
Several of the athletes who traveled as far as Minnesota and Canada told 21 News they were fighting to represent a loved one who's battling the disease that kills more than 40k people every year.
"My nana is a breast cancer survivor," said Lauren Mohler with the Youngstown Salem Boxing Club. "It just means women empowerment and bringing awareness to everybody."
"We're here just so people come out and support the cause because, without events like these, they would just go about life without knowing," explained Frances Hall with the Youngstown Salem Boxing Club.
Rocky DeFrank is helping host the event while he continues to mourn the loss of his brother, Ricco Acevedo, who was killed earlier this month in a police-involved shooting on the city's south side.
"He was a big part of USA Amateur Boxing and had a lengthy career with over 88 amateur fights and turned professional," DeFrank said about Acevedo. "He loved to motivate and train people and he was very active himself as a 45-year-old. Tragically, he was taken from my family. Everybody has a past and everyone has done something they ask for forgiveness for. Unfortunately, the world doesn't forgive anybody. The world doesn't look at you as that changed person but God does."
"He helped build these fighters and he just wanted to see men and women succeed," explained Jason Papic, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Youngstown Salem Boxing Club.
While the group prepares for Acavedo's funeral this Saturday, their focus remains on the preparation and success of the breast cancer event.
"He's a huge part of the community in the world of boxing and in our gym," Papic added. "Ricco would want this. He would want this show to go on even with the tragedy of what happened with his life."
At this time, it is unclear what exactly led up to Acevedo being shot, but YPD says that one officer was placed on leave pursuant to department policy following the incident.
An autopsy was conducted on Acevedo's body and the incident remains under investigation by BCI and the Mahoning County Coroner's Office.
The group holds a variety of these events year-round to work to bring back the sport of boxing in Youngstown.