For Tom Ciriello, "Building Homes for Heroes" Is a Cause Worth Fighting For
Mar 28, 2019 06:00AM
● By Pamela Johnson
story & photo by Dave Dunbar, Contributing Writer
Punching other people as a form of stress relief? Professional boxing can “give you peace” and “let your stress out,” according to Thomas Ciriello of Bellingham. It can also help raise money for charitable causes.
Ciriello, 29, grew up in Brockton—“The City of Champions”—in a poor neighborhood where “you learn quickly how to defend yourself.” In fact, two famous boxers, Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler, are from Brockton.
Fast forward to today and we find Ciriello involved in efforts to raise money for “Homes for Heroes.” He and six friends who are all Massachusetts State Police officers went to New York City last month to fight in the ring against boxers from the city fire department.
“It was a good fight,” said Ciriello. He added that there was one “shoddy call” from the home-team referees, and he’s planning a rematch in the months ahead. More than 3,000 people --a sold-out audience at Madison Square Garden-- paid to see the fight, which raised approximately $50,000 for Building Homes for Heroes.
According to their website: "Building Homes for Heroes® is strongly committed to rebuilding lives and supporting the brave men and women who were injured while serving the country during the time of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. The organization builds or modifies homes, and gifts them, mortgage-free, to veterans and their families. It’s our honor to support the men and women who have loyally and courageously served our country." You can learn more about this national charity by visiting https://www.buildinghomesforheroes.org.
More boxing is coming up in the Boston area and you can see what and when by visiting www.mspboxing.com.
Ciriello went into the U.S. Air Force after high school and eventually settled in Savanah, Georgia, where he spent five years as a prison correctional officer. He moved to Bellingham three years ago and currently works as a surgical assistant.
He recalled the need “as a teenager with anger issues,” to “find his niche, find something that would give him peace and balance.” He found boxing. “And it’s cheaper than a shrink,” he says with a smile.
What’s ahead for Ciriello?He’s thinking about opening a gym. “As a kid who grew up in a tough town, I realize that kids sometimes need to fight. A gym program will provide them with a safe, controlled environment.” His own daily training schedule currently includes weight lifting, running and sparring with boxing partners.
He is also looking forward to completing a master’s degree in health-care studies and becoming a physician’s assistant sometime next year.
“You gotta get out of your comfort zone,” he says, “to try to figure things out.”