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Club raises money for East Africa

Joseph McMahon | Friday, December 7, 2007

This year, the Women’s Boxing Club of Notre Dame hopes its Baraka Bouts event will bring in at least $10,000 for Holy Cross schools in East Africa, more than double last year’s fundraising total.

The club, which raised $4,000 last year, believes that it is currently on track to meet its goal through donations from both students and alumni.

“Hopefully, through our ticket sales, our merchandise sales and donations from alums who have boxed, we will make $10,000,” said club co-president and senior Whitney Endsley. Endsley, who joined the club in her sophomore year, has seen Baraka Bouts transform into one of Notre Dame’s premier fundraising events.

This year, the club set a record when 120 girls signed up. On Thursday, 44 women boxed in the exhibition, which lasted from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Joyce Center.

The women participating are part of one of the fastest growing clubs at Notre Dame.

“When I first joined the club it was still forming and getting its roots set somewhere,” Endsley said. “We’ve taken strides in terms of being organized and having really committed people behind us.”

The club’s other co-president, senior Colleen McCormick, also believes it is likely the club will send a check for at least $10,000 to the Holy Cross Mission in East Africa.

“Our main fundraiser is called the ‘Power Hour,’ where we do as many jumping jacks, pull-ups and sit-ups as possible,” she said. “Each member raises $100 and some even raised over $700.”

Fifty participants raised at least $100 during the “Power Hour,” McCormick said.

Additional funds will come from the main event, in the form of ticket sales for $3 and programs for $2, as well as some money that was left over from last year’s Baraka Bouts, she said.

The word “baraka” means blessing or prosperity in Swahili. It was picked as the event’s name in 2004.

“We wanted to pick a word that encompassed who we are as a club, and because we work with East Africa, Swahili was a good language to pull from,” McCormick said.

With the help of RecSports, the women of Baraka Bouts are beginning to raise the awareness of their fight night, McCormick said. She hopes the event some day has the prominence of the Bengal Bouts, the men’s boxing competition – also for charity – that takes place each spring.

“A lot of the paperwork the guys have to do we started doing last year so that we could be at the same level as them,” sophomore captain Kristin Burke said.

Along with junior captain Nicole Koors, Burke introduces novices to the sport and trains the veterans.

Koors sees Baraka Bouts as an opportunity to do something she loves while still benefiting a good cause.

“Yesterday at Mass, Father [Brian] Daley, our faculty advisor, said that we all love boxing, and we’re doing this for the sake of boxing, and the charity side of it just makes it that much better,” she said.

Considering the club’s growth in recent years, Endsley and other members of the Women’s Boxing Club hope enough girls will join so that they can have a Bengal Bouts-style tournament, as opposed to just one fight night with one-on-one pairings.

However, just as Holy Cross men are barred from joining Bengal Bouts due to liability issues, Saint Mary’s women are not allowed to participate in Baraka Bouts. Endsley and McCormick were forced to turn away several girls who were interested in competing.