They are both uniquely singular endeavors. In the ring, or on the stage, the performer stands alone to be judged by all to see. Each event is fraught with uncertainty and fear. Hicksville’s Paul Rello, a boxer and aspiring hip-hop artist, is quite familiar with both. In fact, he believes boxing has prepared him for his music career.
“I’m seeing the similarities between fighting in the ring and performing live on stage,” said Rello, who is 31. “I don’t think anything can compare to the moments leading up to a fight. When I first started competing I would get anxious and nervous before stepping in the ring. Once the fight started, I felt comfortable and all of those feelings immediately left as instinct took over. After fighting in nine Golden Gloves bouts, competitive boxing has only gotten easier. Now that I’m performing music live, I can definitely say it’s similar, just not as hard. I think boxing has conditioned me for many areas of my life and performing in front of a crowd is certainly one of them.”
Rello attended Hicksville High School before being sent to an alternative school, Career Preparatory High School in Westbury. He admits to finding trouble as a kid and credits the discipline it takes to compete in boxing with moving his life in the right direction. While he played numerous sports in his youth—including baseball, basketball and swimming—the sweet science appealed to his basic instincts. As a kid, he hung out with an older crowd and as the youngest, and usually the smallest, Rello often found himself getting bullied. Finally, a friend introduced him to the Westbury Boxing Club and trainer Joe Gadigian.
“Learning how to box gave me confidence and taught me how to stand up for myself,” Rello said. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t start boxing. Westbury Boxing Club was like my second home.”
Gadigian, a former pro boxer and resident of Bethpage, has been a long-time trainer at the Westbury gym and has helped shaped the careers of countless amateur and pro fighters, including current junior welterweight contender Cletus Seldin.
“He’s a survivor,” Gadigian said of Rello. “Even in his lowest moments, Paul was always an honorable young man. You will never see him quit or back down. He’s street smart but he’s also very capable and intelligent.”
Rello has competed in the New York Golden Gloves tournament three times. He illustrated his heart and desire early on in his boxing career. In one of his first competitions, Rello suffered an allergic reaction to something he had eaten before the fight.
“It was the hardest fight I’ve ever competed in,” he said. “I had a rash all over my face, my skin was on fire, I was burning up but I still fought anyway. I left it all in the ring that night and when I was done I just wanted to collapse.”
The next morning, Rello picked up the New York Daily News, which has sponsored the Golden Gloves tournament since 1927. Rello won the fight and the headline read, “Rello All Blood and Guts.” The performance earned him “Fight of the Night” honors.
While Rello was drawn to poetry as a young kid, his trials and tribulations in life and inside the ring led him to begin writing again. His pursuit of a career in hip-hop grew out of his love of poetry. He points to Nas and Eminem as his hip-hop influences, saying that Eminem’s “word play was unmatched and a lot of times he sounded like he was having a conversation with you when he was rapping.”
“Things took a turn for me when I got into middle school and I started getting into trouble,” Rello said. “I was dealing with a lot of things at a young age and whenever I was going through a tough time, I would write down my thoughts and emotions on paper. Writing raps became an outlet for me to channel my energy. My love for hip-hop has only grown stronger over the years.”
As has his love for boxing; and now he’s on a mission to combine the two passions of his life. Last week, Rello released a new music video, “Ain’t That the Truth.” He’s currently preparing for the Ring Masters tournament in January and plans on launching a professional boxing career later in 2023.
“My goal is to tie boxing to music and be successful in both careers,” Rello said. “They are both very personal to me. I draw on my life experiences in both boxing and music.”
—James Rowan is an Anton Media Group contributor who is from Levittown.