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Bouts organizers predict earnings of $100,000

Duffy, Eileen | Monday, March 21, 2005

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Bengal Bouts, alumni boxers gathered this weekend and looked on as the Notre Dame Boxing Club gave birth to 11 new “million dollar babies” at Saturday night’s final rounds.Well, $100,000 babies, at least.Through a combination of fundraising techniques – Bengal Bouts alumni donations as well as the sale of tickets, program advertising and merchandise – the club has raised a preliminary amount of $75,000. However, Pat Farrell, Bengal Bouts coach and chair of the alumni reunion committee for this year’s bouts, said he “has no doubt” that the final total will exceed $100,000.That’s a long way from the 1931 donation of $500. Considering that in recent years the club usually donates about $50,000, this year’s contribution is “amazing,” senior captain Nathan Lohmeyer said. The additional money, said both Farrell and Lohmeyer, came from the pockets of Bengal Bouts alumni. The club sent letters to alumni requesting donations, with a $750 gift establishing an alumnus as a founding member of the Nappy Legacy Fund, named in honor of the first coach of the bouts, Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano.Alumni were also invited to campus for a series of events surrounding the 75th anniversary, including a reception in the press box Friday night and a banquet in the Monogram Room Saturday evening. The weekend culminated in Saturday night’s finals. “We just want to get people back here and get them upped again,” Farrell said. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, this is kind of a nice place.’ And of course, whatever we can raise for the missions is fantastic.”Ticket prices were $10 for a general, all-nights ticket, $5 for a student single-night ticket and $8 or $10 (during the final rounds) for a non-student single-night ticket. Reserved seating near the ring was also available for a higher fee. Tickets were sold at the dining hall during the week before the event, but they were also available at the door.Each boxer was required to sell 10 tickets as well as advertising for the programs, which were, in turn, sold each night of the bouts for $1. Advertisers varied from dorms to clubs to parents of the boxers.Recognizing the lucrative industry that is the T-shirt business at Notre Dame, the club sold Bengal Bouts shirts for $15 in the dining halls and at each night of the bouts. Polo shirts, hats and stickers recognizing the 75th anniversary were also on sale.Another money-saver for the club came from Adidas, which agreed to cover the cost of the clothing for each boxer (two shirts and a pair of shorts). The “$1,000 or so,” according to Lohmeyer, that would have been removed for that expense remained a part of the donation.After asking for something from the alumni, the club gave something back to them: they presented the Bengal Bouts Award – given annually to someone who has gone “above and beyond the call in service to the club,” according to Lohmeyer – to anyone who has ever been a member of the Notre Dame Boxing Club, or spent time in the ring.Alumni from the class of 1944 to the class of 2003 gathered in the ring to accept the award.”It was cool to see a guy who was 82 standing next to a guy who was 22,” Lohmeyer said. “They were both part of the same organization.”Sophomore boxer Clayton Lougée emphasized the bonds formed through the Bengal Bouts experience.”The amazing part about the Bengal bouts is that we train so hard all together before we get in the ring, then we go and face off … but then once the fight is over, after we’ve tried so hard to completely beat each other up for three rounds, we’re right back to being friends,” he said.They fight, but they’re friends. And they fight for something more than a title.The money they raise goes to the Holy Cross Mission in Daka, Bangladesh, which is made up of a school, college, seminary, orphanage and hospital.The Boxing Club is the single largest supporter of this mission; “their financial stability depends on how much money [the club] raise[s],” Lohmeyer said.Indeed, according to the Bengal Bouts Web site, one American dollar can feed and clothe a family of five for a day in Bangledesh. Reflecting upon a visit to the mission, Bengal Bouts coach Tom Suddes wrote, “I have never fully realized the impact of the Bengal Bouts and the boxing program on people’s lives in Bangledesh.”Lohmeyer said it succinctly. “I think they’re going to be really, really happy to receive a $100,000 check over there.”