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Baraka Bouts: Showcasing their skills

Sam Werner | Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tonight, 44 Notre Dame women will put on the gloves and compete in the annual Baraka Bouts women’s boxing competition.

“These girls have come a long way,” Baraka Bouts president Whitney Endsley said. “We’re really excited to allow them to showcase their skills.”

While Bengal Bouts raises money for Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh, Baraka Bouts helps schools in eastern Africa. The organization fundraises through merchandise sales, ticket sales and an event known as the “Power Hour.” During the Power Hour, which took place Nov. 1, the fighters competed to see how many push-ups, sit-ups or jumping jacks they can do in 60 minutes – and received donations for each repetition.

“They’re required to raise at least $100, but we’ve had some girls this year who’ve raised upwards of $500 or $600 dollars.” Endsley said.

In total, the organization hopes to raise $10,000 this year.

“We raised about $4,000 – $5,000 last year,” Endsley said. “We want to at least double that.”

The money hasn’t come easily, though, as the fighters have been working since the beginning of September in preparation for tonight. Practicing for two hours everyday, the women have been working on physical fitness and boxing skills.

“Because it’s an introductory club, most girls have no experience before joining,” Endsley said. “It’s a lot to learn in just two months.”

Those two months will culminate at 6 tonight in the Joyce Center with 22 fights over five hours. Unlike Bengal Bouts, which is organized as a tournament, each girl will only get one fight to showcase her abilities.

“Maybe sometime if we have the numbers and we can organize a tournament that’d be great,” Endsley said.

Also, while the men have strict weight classes, the Baraka Bout fights are paired only by relative size and boxing ability, as decided by the captains.

“We’ve got some novices fighting senior captains and some novices fighting novices,” Endsley said. “We should have some really good fights.”

Of the 44 girls fighting, 21 are sophomores or freshmen. The high amount of underclassmen has Endsley optimistic about the future of the organization.

“Hopefully the freshman and sophomores can continue carrying on the club and keep it growing,” she said. “The numbers have gone up every year, which is really encouraging.”

For now, though, the girls are concentrating on tonight and the end of this season.

“Our novices look great. They’ve caught on really fast and tomorrow they can showcase their skills in front of a crowd,” Endsley said. “Hopefully we can raise a lot of money to send to East Africa, and have a lot of fun.”