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Bengal Bouts: Service, med school await two-time champ Rodgers

Michael Blasco | Friday, February 27, 2009

After four years of fights and two championships, senior captain Dan Rodgers has learned what it means to give himself selflessly and completely to something, and, in that process, be transformed.

“Every year, the Bengal Bouts, to me, mean less about what happens in the JACC and more about the Holy Cross priests in Bangladesh and the people they serve,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers, a senior theology and science pre-professional major, became a captain this year after winning championships in 2007 and 2008, in the 155-pound and 161-pound weight classes, respectively. Like most boxers participating in the Bouts, the knowledge that his efforts are instrumental in addressing the plight of tribal villagers in Bangladesh drives Rodgers.

“When Mark [Weber] and the others who went to Bangladesh came back and shared their experiences with me and the team, the work of the missionaries and the help we give them became more real to me,” Rodgers said. “The work we do here to raise money and awareness has a tangible benefit for the Holy Cross mission.”

Rodgers, a resident of Phoenix, Md., hopes to serve as a volunteer for a year before going to medical school.

While the mission behind the Bouts fuels his passion, Rodgers’ day-to-day role in the fights revolves around his duties as a captain. Stepping into a leadership role, Rodgers had to adjust his own expectations of his newfound responsibilities.

“I had a preconceived idea of what a captain was supposed to be and thought that I needed to change in order to fit into the role,” Rodgers said. “It was only after I realized that I was picked to be a captain because of who I was -not who someone thought I could be – that I became the leader I wanted to be.”

Taking that perspective and then using it to teach the hundreds of eager boxers that tape up was an obstacle in itself. Rodgers quickly learned that he could not be there for every fighter, regardless of his effort.

“As a captain at practice, you stare at 200 guys all looking back at you, looking for directions, help, or a sparring partner,” Rodgers said. “It can be overwhelming to think that you need to help all of them fix their jab or teach them a hook. I learned that I can’t help everyone, but I can find a few guys and give them everything I have to offer.”

Although he realized he cannot “be everything to everyone,” Rodgers, a resident assistant in Siegfried Hall, gives all he can to each fighter that he coaches.

“I love to teach others what I know, what I have learned from others and what I have gained from my own experience,” Rodgers said. “Being a captain put me in a position where I can help others grow stronger and be better boxers. It’s a very rewarding position to be in.”

That training shaped Rodgers into a top fighter with a 12-1 record over three years of competition. Every one of the 180 fighters who will step into the ring this spring acknowledges the formative influence of the grueling training process.

“Training for me is everything,” Rodgers said. “The fights are only put on because of our training. Both physical and mental discipline is required of a fighter in the ring, and it is only outside of the ring, on those days that you don’t want to come or don’t want to do that last set of push-ups, that you learn what it means to be disciplined.”

This year, Rodgers is competing for his third consecutive championship. As much as he relishes training other fighters, there’s nothing like stepping into the ring and practicing the Sweet Science himself.

“I like to fight because it is a challenge each time I step in the ring,” Rodgers said. “It’s as much a mental battle as it is a physical one.”

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