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Bengal Bouts: After months of training, boxers ready to fight

Andy Ziccarelli | Monday, February 25, 2008

The members of the Notre Dame Men’s Boxing Club have done countless push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and boxing drills since October for this week’s 78th annual Bengal Bouts tournament which begins tonight at 6:30 in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.

Men’s Boxing Club President Hunter Land sees a lot of potential in this year’s crop of boxers.

“I’m so excited, we have a great group of fighters,” Land said.

There are a number of returning finalists and champions from last year’s tournament, Land said. But he also warned spectators not to count out the newcomers in this year’s tournament.

“We have a great group of novices who look really talented,” Land said. “They have transformed since October from being athletes to becoming boxers now in February, and I am very excited to see what they are capable of here in the ring. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of novices come out and shock a lot of people.”

Around 200 fighters will compete in 12 different weight classes. Fighters must make it through four rounds in order to become champions.

Because of the size of field, Bengal Bouts will make another bit of history tonight. For the first time, two rings will be used in the Fieldhouse for the preliminary rounds. They will accommodate the 91 matches that will take place, which is also a record number of fights for a single night.

The Bouts are a fundraiser used to benefit the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh. Donations raised and advertisements sold will aid the missions, as will the proceeds from each ticket sold for the tournament.

“We have grown to become the single largest benefactor for the missions. It’s something we are really proud of,” Land said.

The cause is something that makes the intense training so worthwhile to the fighters.

Taped to the door of the boxing room in the Joyce Center basement is an article reporting the immense damage inflicted upon Bangladesh after last fall’s wave of natural disasters, with the number of death and casualties highlighted in yellow. It serves as a reminder to every fighter who passes through those doors what cause they are fighting for.

“We think of the sacrifices that we make here, whether its time, academics or just effort,” Land said. “We realize that those sacrifices are hopefully contributing to the sacrifices that people won’t have to make half a world away.”