Matt Farrago had 28 professional fights and many of those contests were against world-class opposition.
But now, at the age of 50, the Long Island middleweight once known as the Beta Bomber, is embarking on the biggest fight of his life. He wants retired fighters to have a chance.
The stories are sad and familiar. Some of the game’s greatest warriors end up broke and in declining health. Iran Barkley, Wilfred Benitez, Smokin’ Joe Frazier are just some of the former champions in need.
Farrago founded an organization named Ring 10. Its web site reads, “We are a non-profit foundation created to help fulfill the needs of past and present boxers who have fallen on hard times; to not sit in judgment and to help when help is needed…One hundred percent of your tax deductible membership fees and donations will go towards helping all indigent former fighters.”
Former fighters, Tyrone Jackson, Pete Spanakos and Harold Weston sit on the board of directors.
Barkley, the former middleweight champion from the Bronx who has squared off against Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran, was one of the first fighters to receive assistance from Ring 10, Barkley spent time actually staying at the homes of Ring 10 members. The organization finally found him a place to live.
“We don’t want to just give him a drink of water,” said Farrago. “We want to teach him to find water. We could sit here and say we gave him money for years. We want to do more. We want to help him become self sufficient.”
Benitez, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is another fighter that Ring 10 is trying to help. Benitez is in declining health live in his native Puerto Rico. Ring 10 sends him three hundred dollars per month.
“We are a small organization with no money,” said Farrago. “So far, we’ve been able to make sure we send [Benitez] $300 a month for one year. Right now, it’s not the quantity, it’s the consistency.”