On Tuesday starting at 10 p.m., New York City-based junior middleweight Captain Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson tells HBO’s Real Sports why his paralyzed “soul mate,” Christan Zaccagnino, is his inspiration for donnating his entire fight purses to Justadollarplease.org in support of a trial to help cure chronic spinal cord injuries.
Melson, 31, tells HBO’s Frank Deford that he is inspired during workouts by Zaccagnino, who has been paralyzed from the neck down since a diving accident at age 10.
“Anything great you’re tryin’ to achieve, if you’re not obsessed, you’re not tryin’ hard enough. ‘Cause it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard,” said Melson, who hopes that medicine will one discover a way for Zaccargino to walk again.
“When my legs are achin’ and my lungs are poundin’ and I wanna stop… I start thinkin’ ‘Man, this is a blessing to feel this tired.’ You know what she’d give to have her legs feel this sore? What she’d give to feel outta breath? Thank you God for this.”
A West Point graduate, Melson maintains a grueling schedule to train while working a typical 9-to-5 office job.
“My heart has never faltered when it came to Boyd,” said Zaccagnino, who met Melson at a dance in 2002. “If Boyd asked me to marry him tomorrow, I would say yes, and I would feel like the luckiest woman in the entire world.”
Melson (10-1-1, 4 KOs) is scheduled to face Troy Lowry (28-12, 17 KOs) on the April 27 undercard of a Showtime-televised main event featuring RING junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia‘s title defense against ex-beltholder Zab Judah at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Melson was in the ring at Barclays Center last October, where he battled Jason Thompson to a draw on the undercard of Garcia’s fourth-round knockout of Erik Morales.
“I promise I won’t give up on you. I promise,” says Melson to Zaccagnino. “One of my biggest fears is me waking up and seeing her at 60 years old, and she’s still in a wheelchair.”
But Zaccagnino remains hopeful.
“I don’t know what my future holds at all,” says Zaccagnino. “But I believe in fairytales, and I believe in miracles.”
Photo / Al Bello-Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org