New nonprofit offers veterans therapy through boxing

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It's called Fatback Boxing, a local charity for military members swinging back into civilian life. (WPVI)

As we honor our service members this Veterans Day there's a brand new nonprofit providing a special service to help them heal. It's called Fatback Boxing, a local charity for military members swinging back into civilian life.

Wendell Chavis explains, "I am a disabled vet and this helped my mind. This is like therapy for me - I come here to relieve all the stress stuff. And it eases the tension."

Chavis, affectionately called Coach Rich, is an Army veteran training other vets.

"This is like boot camp. It's like basic training all over again," he said.

The discipline is familiar, but there's something else about boxing that's channeling healing for heroes home from the battlefield.

Sam Peca tells us, "It's like a happy place when you are boxing ...nothing in the world can touch you

Peca served in Marine Corps for five and a half years and recently returned home from Afghanistan.

"It gets the emotions out. A lot of vets have trouble expressing their emotions," Peca says.

Fatback Boxing is the brainchild of Brad Spence, a local chef and culinary director for the Vetri family of restaurants. His charity starts in the kitchen.

Spence explains, "I get a whole pig - organic, local pig, we cook it up. I get my farmers to donate fruits and vegetables. I have Victory brewery as a sponsor and Titos Vodka as a sponsor, so it's essentially a big party."

And all of the money goes straight back into the ring.

"All of the money goes to training of veterans and boxing," says Spence.

His partner, Casey O'Donnell, is also the CEO at Impact Services, which houses homeless veterans in Kensington.

O'Donnell says, "Tonight we will house 175 vets that are at diff points of transition and recovery."

Three veterans currently train with Fatback Boxing, a champion for food, competitive fighting, and finding that happy place.

One of those veterans, Chris Maloney, tells us, "I think it has to do with community. It's almost like that tribe factor. It's that tight knit community aspect."

And Samuel Teah, a local up and comer, is fighting under the Fatback name. He's doing so tonight at Harrah's for veterans on Veterans Day.

Chef Spence says the next step is to open their own gym, complete with a gourmet kitchen.
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