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Who we fight for

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Every weekday afternoon since the second day back at Notre Dame from fall break, I have made the long trek from Sorin College to the JACC for Bengal Bouts practice.

Going into training for the Bouts, I had absolutely no boxing experience. Currently, just days before I fight in the preliminary round next Monday night, I’ve been in the ring six times.

Needless to say, I’m not Muhammad Ali.

However, I will say that Bengal Bouts has been one of the best experiences in my two years at Notre Dame. It’s taught me a lot about myself and it’s given me a really good way to let loose some aggression.

It’s also gotten me in pretty good shape, especially compared to last winter’s lazy plan to stay in shape by going to the Rock.

Ever since the first practice, the Bengal Bouts captains have insisted that the Bouts are about more than getting in shape. Instead, we fight for something bigger than any one of the approximately 230 individuals in the program, bigger than the 230 individuals put together, and even bigger than Notre Dame.

Bengal Bouts are about raising money and awareness for the Holy Cross Mission in Bangladesh.

The Holy Cross missionaries work with the tribal people of Bangladesh, who are the poorest of the poor in a country in which 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The missionaries have established medical and educational resources for the people of Bangladesh over the years, with substantial help from the Bengal Bouts program. The Bouts are the largest single supporter of the missions on a yearly basis.

Every year is a rough one for Bangladesh, but 2007 was tough even by Bangladesh standards.

Cyclone Sidr made landfall in Bangladesh on Nov. 15, 2007 as a category 4 storm, stronger than Hurricane Katrina when it devastated New Orleans.

The cyclone was responsible for the deaths of at least 3,113 people. According to UNICEF, 3.2 million people were affected by Sidr, which also destroyed approximately 750,000 homes in Bangladesh.

More than ever, the people of Bangladesh need the support of the Notre Dame family. In Bangladesh, the money of supporters from Notre Dame can go a long way. $40 can pay one month’s salary for a teacher in the Holy Cross Missions, and $2,000 is enough money to build a school for that teacher.

So this year, and throughout your time at Notre Dame, make sure to support the Bengal Bouts. Just as importantly, make sure to remember who we fight for.

The Bouts begin with the preliminaries on Monday and the quarterfinals on Thursday. The semifinals and the finals continue the week we return from spring break.

Please buy tickets, and please make donations, even small ones of a couple of dollars. Those small donations add up.

And even one small donation can go a long way in Bangladesh.