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Bengal Bouts: Long Hair earns Stypula no. 2 seed

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 3, 2006

Before his sophomore year of college, Stu Stypula had never set foot inside of a boxing ring.

But his relentless work ethic – and a little help from a throwback haircut – earned the junior one of six spots as a Bengal Bouts captain this year and the No. 2 seed in the 180-pound weight class.

“[The 2005 captains] said I had been selected because at the time I had long hair and they wanted to reintroduce ‘the shag look’ into the program captainship,” Stypula said.

Stypula is not a stranger to his position. He captained his high school’s cross country and lacrosse teams,

He described his leadership role as a “double-edged sword.” Stypula said his role as a captain is time-consuming, especially as most of the training sessions are devoted to instructing younger boxers or being a practice partner for others.

The captains have to arrive well before all of the other fighters in order to get in the workouts they need to be physically prepared to compete.

But Stypula believes that in some ways, his new role and the commitment that goes along with it have improved his work ethic and helped him become stronger.

“I have been inspired by a sense of leadership to work harder and be a better boxer than I would be if I wasn’t a captain,” he said.

If Stu “Beans” has really improved his technique, he is bound to make some noise in the 180-pound division this year. This was the second straight year Stypula earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

But he has no intentions of resting on his seeding laurels.

“I hope to be a contender for the division champion,” he said.

Stypula had no problems getting through the first round in last year’s 180-pound class. He faced off against senior Michael Siefring and came away with the unanimous decision.

In the next round, “Beans” sparred with Doug “Sudden Death” Bartels. Despite putting up a good fight, Stypula fell to the eventual division champion in the quarterfinal round.

But winning was not his main goal when he joined Bengal Bouts. As a two-sport athlete in high school, Stypula was simply looking for a way to stay in shape while learning a new sport.

“I also wanted to find out if I was as tough of a guy as I thought I was,” he said. “I found out that boxing isn’t always about being the tougher guy.”

Stypula said these words resonate with Bengal Bouts competitors, as their fights are only a small part of the work that the boxers put in towards raising money for the Bangladeshi missions. The fighters organize countless hours of promotion and fund-raising to make the event a financial success.

“The money feeds incredible amounts of people as well as clothing and educating them and playing salaries for many of the workers over there,” he said.

The junior biology major also takes away a great deal of knowledge from the program that he has given so much time and effort.

“Bengal Bouts has definitely prepared me to handle any situation in life through perseverance and hard work,” Stypula said. “It has also taught me to work for a purpose higher than myself.”

Stypula said he wants to continue his work as a captain next season, but he is intent on making his mark as a champion this year so he can dedicate even more time to training younger boxers as a senior captain.