A local boxer will defend his title on Nov. 9 at the Old Forge High School. Senior Nick Nalaschi is set to headline the Blue Devil Triboro Fight Night.
“Iron Nick,” as he’s called in the ring, remains undefeated at 6-0. He had been steadily sparring his way into the annals of local history, and he’s proved himself to be a worthy opponent.
Nick’s interest in sports has remained constant throughout his high school career. He played football, basketball and baseball. He put them on hold, however, to pursue boxing full time. Nick’s father, Dean Nalaschi, jokes that Nick left football because it “wasn’t contact enough.”
Nick began to pursue boxing just a few years ago.
“When he took up boxing, he never looked back,” says his father.
Nick says that the most challenging part of boxing is “staying motivated.”
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of cardio, you’re always tired and you’re always sore after a match,” Nick said. “Staying motivated is definitely the hardest part.”
Although the bruised and bloodied images of Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta at the finale of “Raging Bull” might suggest that boxing is a violent and overwhelmingly physical sport, Nick says it isn’t all brawl.
“Boxing is a lot more mental than it is physical. You don’t really understand until you’re a fighter,” he said. “It’s all about angles. ... There’s a lot of thinking that you have to do in the ring.”
To prepare for matches, Nick does everything from sparring at Signature Boxing in Scranton, to hitting a punching bag at home.
“I usually average about one or two power days a week,” he said. “I do running and rowing exercises for cardio once a week, the rest is a lot of form work.”
He can also be found working out in his basement alongside his father. The two jokingly refer to themselves as the “cellar dwellers.”
Although his interest in boxing took off just a few years ago, Nick has grown up surrounded by boxers, both in his family and his hometown. His father boxed in the 90s. His great-grandfather, Gaetano Cipriano boxed while he was in the Navy and his great-great-uncle, Joseph Cipriano had an extensive amateur boxing career as well. His hometown of Old Forge has seen its fair share of boxers throughout the years. Jack Munley fought from 1936-1941 and Joseph Mattioli fought under the name “Pep O’Brien” in the 1920s.
Both Nick and his father, who serves as his coach, are proud to say boxing has become a “family affair.” Along with his father, Nick also has his older brother, Dean Jr. in his corner.
“I’m very happy that my older brother is involved with the coaching,” he says.
Both Nick and his father agree that the coaching dynamic is a bit different being that it’s between father and son. His father says that the process can be “tough at times,” but at the end of the day, “it’s a bond second to none.”
The young boxer agrees.
“It’s definitely different, a lot of fighters go to the gym, leave the gym and they don’t have to worry about it. ... It’s different when you live with the coach, it’s old school, you’ll be eating dinner and still be talking about what you did at training.”
For Nick and his father, being able to participate in the sport is a dream come true and “nothing short of a fairy-tale,” as Dean Nalaschi puts it.
“Words can’t put into perspective how proud I am,” he says.