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Baraka Bouts: Women’s fights will start today

Ken Fowler | Friday, December 2, 2005

They won’t be pulling any punches Sunday.After nearly three months of training up to six days a week, the fighters of the Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Club will don their trunks and robes in the second annual Baraka Bouts to raise money for Holy Cross education missions in East Africa.”We began our novice training the first full week of classes,” club co-president Anne Kwiatt said. “In those two weeks, all the new boxers were able to begin their training and learn the fundamentals of boxing.”Kwiatt and fellow co-president Courtney Cleary have led the club’s 34 boxers all semester with daily two-hour workouts Monday through Friday and Saturday afternoon, training in preparation for Sunday’s 1 p.m. bouts.”To get in shape for the boxing, it takes a lot of cardio-aerobic work,” Kwiatt said. “Pretty much since the first week of school we’ve been training.”Boxers must attend at least four practices a week to remain eligible to fight, Cleary said.”The girls are looking good; we’re really proud of what they’ve done,” Cleary said. “Loads of progress, especially in these last few weeks. The girls have gotten together, gotten their attendance up and really worked hard.”Kwiatt, a senior who has been a part of the boxing club since her freshman year, said her interest in the sport spawned from watching her brother Michael participate in Bengal Bouts when she was in high school.”I saw there were ND women’s boxers out there [during Bengal Bouts] helping,” she said. “I was interested in it at activities night and thought that would be a great way to have fun, meet people and be able to work for a good cause.”Kwiatt said the club has rededicated its focus this year to raising money for the missions.”We’re having 17 exhibition fights, and all proceeds are going to be donated to Holy Cross mission schools,” Kwiatt said.The weekend will begin with a first-hand account of the importance of the cause, Cleary said.”We have one of the priests from [a Holy Cross mission in Africa] coming in to speak to us [Friday], so hopefully that will reinforce what we’re here for and why we’re fighting on Sunday.”In her four years, Kwiatt said she has seen boxers improve and develop their own style, even as the cause has remained the same.”It’s just great seeing people grow and change as boxers over the years,” she said. “Especially novices, watching them as they first come into boxing and don’t know anything about it. Then they step into the ring, and they know how to throw punches, and they know how to defend themselves and they know technique. It’s just great watching the girls year-by-year.”The fights have a maximum of three 1:30 rounds.Cleary said the club’s practices are crucial because of the demanding nature of the bouts.”We’re definitely here to get the girls motivated – get them to come back every single day,” she said. “It’s not easy to step in that ring.”Of the 17 bouts on Sunday’s card, Kwiatt said she is particularly excited for the final fight, between junior Kelsey Miller and senior Jessica Fickey.”Jess Fickey is one of the most skilled boxers in the club,” Kwiatt said. “I’m looking forward to her fight. … It will be one of the many featured fights.”The bouts will take place in Auxiliary Gymnasium 2 of the JACC, and tickets are $5.