BOSTON- Fresh out of the ring from his Friday night victory in TD Garden, MMA Champion Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa greeted us outside of the studio with a smile from ear to ear and open arms for a big hug.
There was absolutely no inclination that just days prior, the Peabody native had been toe-to-toe with his opponent throwing swings in the octagon, breaking the record for most wins all-time in his hometown stadium of TD Garden. Except, of course, for a small mark under his right eye. “You can barely see that hit, huh?” I said, standing in awe of how well put together he looked after what I could only imagine was both a mentally and physically draining event. I had to ask, “What did you use to heal that up so fast?!” Rosa
smiled, “Nothin’ actually, I’ve always healed quick like that, I dunno. I just like to think it’s ’cause I’m healthy and take care of myself.” As we stood on the sidewalk in Quincy in what was a unique situation-a potential gas leak in studio just before we were set to air-Charles’ easygoing demeanor and genuine kindness radiated through his thick Boston accent and multiple thank you’s to the first responders of the Quincy Fire Department. This was all just a glimpse into the man we were about to get to know.
Once we got the all-clear and were finally ready to air, our first order of business tointroduce the guest of honor was rolling footage of him cooking up one of his standard pre-fight meals in the Johnson & Wales kitchen where he once attended. What’s on the menu? “Bland” chicken with just a bit of cayenne pepper, NO olive oil or salt and some fresh vegetables on the side. On the off days, however, Rosa’s favorite cheat meal is homemade chicken parm! “Always on Sunday my Dad would have a big Italian dinner planned for us and we’d watch football,” says Charles, who grew up surrounded by family, food and sports. “The guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to play hockey, I wanted to be in the NHL. And they kinda laughed a little bit and said ‘You can’t go to school for that, what do you want to do? So, what are your other hobbies?’ And I said, well, I loved eating, I love cooking food- huge sports fan, huge food fan, huge Boston fan.”
Yet his rough-and-tumble background stayed top of mind with fond memories of wrestling on his backyard full-size trampoline after sports games, and at 23 years old Rosa began training for jiu-juitsu. “All my boys would come over after lacrosse practice, after hockey practice, whatever, and we’d go on the trampoline and jump and we’d just wrestle each other and pretty much play king of the mat,” he recalled, laughing at the irony that both himself and one of his childhood friends grew up to become professional fighters.
While they may be two of his favorite things, Rosa says it’s not just food & fights on mind. Hanging around Charles’ neck was a dog-tag shaped emblem that read the words “Chucky’s Fight,” representing his very own family’s charity foundation dedicated to knocking out substance abuse. “At 16 and 17, I lost my brothers to substance abuse,” he explained, telling the heartbreaking story of how his family dealt with the grief of losing the two boys that Rosa had looked up to as role models. “I think the biggest thing about substance abuse and the drugs is education. I don’t think anybody goes out and says ‘Oh, I’m gonna go try heroin,’ like it kinda builds from starting from other drugs and maybe not being educated on it. So, that’s I think they key to solving that problem and that’s something my dad has dedicated his entire life to and that I go and help out. Sometimes I’ll go to schools, I’ll go to treatment centers, I’ll go to prisons and speak to the kids or adults about it and it’s been really successful.” The Chucky’s Fight foundation now helps those without funds to get into treatment centers and aid recovery, providing those who agree to make healthy lifestyle changes with a pendant to remind them of their commitment to recovery.
Want to learn more about Chucky’s Fight & Charles Rosa? Stay tuned for the link from his in-studio interview on The BosBabes!