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Bengal Bouts tickets on sale, fights to begin Feb. 15

Laura McCrystal | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

With a Feb. 15 preliminary round on the horizon, tickets went on sale for the 79th annual Bengal Bouts last week.

Bengal Bouts is a boxing event that raises money for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.

This year’s Bengal Bouts team has almost 300 members, according to senior president Mark Weber.

The novice boxers began training before fall break and have been practicing since the beginning of spring semester, he said. The practices run for two hours, six days per week and consist of conditioning plus five to 10 spars with other boxers.

“To make it through [the training] is really a rite of passage,” Weber said.

The pairings for the preliminary round will be posted late next week, after the boxers are divided into 12 to 14 different weight classes and matched with their competitors based on their sparring records, he said.

The box office estimated selling 3,300 all-session and final round tickets as of Monday afternoon. The box office sells all-session and individual round tickets, but each boxer also sells all-session tickets, making it difficult to estimate total ticket sales, a representative from the box office said.

Weber said that the boxing club also hopes to sell tickets in the dining halls at the end of the week.

Bengal Bouts raised $50,000 last year for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh, but that fundraising goal has become more difficult to meet for this year’s tournament, Weber said.

“The economy’s hitting us pretty hard,” he said. 

Businesses that have traditionally bought advertisements for the tournament have decided not to do so this year because of the economic downturn, Weber said.

But Weber said that Bengal Bouts is making an effort to go beyond simply raising money for the Holy Cross Missions. This past summer, he and four other boxers traveled to Bangladesh to visit the missions for the first time in Bengal Bouts’ history.

During the two-week trip, the boxers visited the missions, worked on a documentary film with a professional camera crew, and paved the way for a new International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) through the Center for Social Concerns. 

The new ISSLP will send Notre Dame boxers to Bangladesh each summer, creating a more personal relationship between the boxing tournament and the missions that it supports. The documentary film will be released in the fall of 2009, Weber said.

“Our money is earmarked to fund educational initiatives in tribal villages,” he said. “Instead of just sending money over there, we’re trying to form relationships with the people and learn from them.”