To aid in the fight against cancer, a local duo is organizing the Mountain Mettle Boxing and Charity event
The fight against cancer doesn’t appear to coming to any sort of resolution anytime soon. Maryguenn Vellinga-Hinz and Luke Hinz have decided to join in with a punch – literally.
On Saturday, the first annual Mountain Mettle Boxing and Charity event is set to take place at The Corner Store at Park City Mountain Resort. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with the first of 20 fights scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
“When we first thought of this idea, we wanted two things to come of it,” Vellinga-Hinz said. “We both have people who train in the gym who have terminal cancer and they’ve completely changed my perspective about continuing to do things that are super challenging. Then if we could engage the community a little bit through boxing and give back, it would all be worth it.”
Both Vellinga-Hinz and Hinz have personal experiences with cancer that helped inspire them to take on the task.
For Hinz, his mother is a two-time survivor of breast cancer.
It’s a different story for Vellinga-Hinz, as she lost her dad to cancer. His memory helped inspire her own boxing career.
“With both of our parents going through it, and coming out with different results, I think that was the very first initial of why we decided to do this,” Vellinga-Hinz said. “They both inspired us.”
Vellinga-Hinz and Hinz are the founders and owners of RISE boxing, a fitness and boxing studio in Park City that isn’t your normal boxing gym according to them. At RISE, Vellinga-Hinz and Hinz “utilize all the benefits of boxing to strengthen not only the body, but the mind as well,”
This concept of strengthening both the body and mind goes hand-in-hand with the fight against cancer, meaning that you need strength of mind to overcome. This philosophy is what they implement inside the boxing ring as well, using mental strength as a partnership with physical strength to achieve the outcome one desires.
Despite boxing’s intimidating learning curve, Vellinga-Hinz was determined to introduce it to Park City.
It’s how Mountain Mettle got its name.
“Boxing is super hard and when we were recruiting people to get into the ring and help with this, we were asking them to get hit in the face and that mindset doesn’t really lend itself to this town,” Hinz said. “The idea was that the fighters are showing us their mettle for fighting in the ring while the whole community is us theirs by fighting against cancer.”
Hinz said the trigger to do the whole event actually came from one of RISE’s amateur fighters. Dave Carruthers, the founder and CEO of Voxpopme, came to Vellinga-Hinz and Hinz and told him that he wanted to take part in a fight in a few months, and so the idea was born to not only give amateur fighters the chance to compete, but to fight against something that was bigger than all of them.
“He’s (Carruthers) just a blue-collar dude who wanted to fight and said he was willing do what it took to fight,” Hinz said. “He was the exact little nudge that we needed to start all of this. … And now it’s become this big thing called the Mountain Mettle and it’s everything we could’ve asked for.”
According to Vellinga-Hinz, though, this is event is also more than a charity event, it’s a USA boxing sanctioned event where experienced amateurs will have the opportunity to climb up their respective weight class rankings.
“We are still big supporters and involved in the Utah local boxing community, so I didn’t think it was respectful to the local boxing community to just highlight the people doing it for charity,” Vellinga-Hinz said. “I also think it’s an invaluable opportunity to get Park City to see what boxing is going on in our state, and to me this was the perfect way to merry the two events.”
Getting this event to be a sanctioned event was huge for RISE Boxing as it gives the event and boxers insurance that will make it safer than a typical backstreet brawl. It gives the event the governing body it was lacking, coming with certain rules and regulations to keep the fighters safe.
According to Vellinga-Hinz, fighters from several gyms in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho are all expected to participate. Fighters will be matched up based on experience, skill level and weight, making for a very enjoyable and even-matching process, which Vellinga-Hinz says has been the hardest part of the process.
“The biggest thing for me is being on the phone and talking to coaches for hours a day making sure the boxers are who they say they are and that the matches are even,” Vellinga-Hinz said. “One of the things I’ve learned from my boxing career is that if you have a mismatch on your first match, that’s a great way to never return to the sport. Brining boxing to Park City for the first time, we want this event to be fun and don’t want it to be over so quick.”
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“We can’t keep kicking this thing down the road. The longer we do, the longer it’s going to take to come out the other side.”