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Bengal Bouts: Hardest hits have taught undefeated Thayer the most

Michael Bryan | Friday, February 26, 2010

For a fighter who is a perfect 10-0 in three years of Bengal Bouts, senior captain Tim Thayer has taken some hard punches in his career.

The Lake Placid, N.Y., native will be looking to win his third straight tournament title Saturday against junior Bobby Powers, and has used his power to put a quick end to many fights. But as he learned the sport and continued fighting while abroad in Ireland, Thayer has taken his lumps.

“My first time sparring I went against a kid who knew what he was doing, and you don’t see every punch you could see before you get in there,” Thayer said. “He knew how to throw an overhand right, and just clocked me a couple times. It’s the hardest I’ve ever been hit, and it was a wake-up call there was a lot to learn.”

Thayer began his Bouts career as a sophomore, attracted to the sport as a former hockey player.

“I spent my whole life playing hockey and was never allowed to fight,” Thayer said.
The training was grueling at first, but the bonds built through hard work and painful training helped Thayer through the process in his first year.

“After the first week you almost completely break your body down with how hard you push yourself. You keep going because everyone around you is doing the same thing, the whole brotherhood thing really pushes you past where you think you can go,” Thayer said.
After facing some tough sparring sessions and learning the sport during his novice season, soon it was Thayer doing the punishing in the ring.

“My first fight only lasted 23 seconds,” Thayer said. “I knew I had a decent chance against him, but that was the first time I realized I had power. I never realized I could knock someone out.”

He cruised to the tournament finals, where he won his first title in 2008 in the 146-pound division over Mark Costanzo. Thayer defeated several veteran fighters in the tournament in winning his novice year.

“Before the tournament even started I thought about how the entire thing has been so worth it, even if I didn’t set foot in the ring it had been an amazing experience,” Thayer said. “From my first fight on, it was just icing on the cake.

“That was when I fell in love with boxing in particular — before I loved the Bengal Bouts, but [the 2008 tournament] was when I fell in love with the sport.”

After winning the tournament after his novice season, Thayer continued training throughout the spring with a mentor he met in the program, Fr. Brian Daley, who began working with the sophomore as he learned the sport.

“His love for the sport was and is electric, and something he passed on to me,” Thayer said. “We began working together quite a bit and he tuned me physically and psychologically to be ready for the bouts.”

While studying abroad during the fall semester of his junior year in Dublin, Thayer continued fighting and developing his skills. He joined the University College Dublin’s boxing club, and right away had to prove himself to another group while sparring.

“We got into the ring to spar and realized neither of us had on headgear, but neither of us wanted to be the one to say something,” Thayer said. “He just nailed me with a left hook square on the jaw and I couldn’t chew for two weeks.”

While fighting abroad Thayer suffered the only loss of his amateur career, losing in the finals of an Irish college championship tournament. Still undefeated on American soil, Thayer returned for his junior year a trained and polished fighter.

“I had been training for a year and a half straight, and I knew I could just go out there and there was nothing in my way,” Thayer said.

Now a veteran, Thayer defended his title in 2009, defeating then-senior Matt Posluszny by unanimous decision in the 150-pound division.

Whether or not Thayer wins his third championship Saturday, the boxing program has given him a sport he loves and mentor for life.

“Fr. Daley is a silent pillar of the program, and he’s become a very close friend and mentor,” Thayer said. “There hasn’t been a fight where he hasn’t been in my corner, and sometimes it doesn’t feel fair — my opponent is in that ring alone, and he has to fight two men. Fr. Daley has impacted my life far beyond the ring and I know we will be friends for a long time.”

Thayer plans on attending medical school after his senior year, but doesn’t plan on letting go of boxing anytime soon.

“I enjoy the irony that I’m going to med school next year, but wherever I go I don’t plan on giving up boxing,” Thayer said. “I hope to eventually get back into Golden Glovers or something. Either way, I look back and realize I’m a much better and more confident person because of this program.”