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Bengal Bouts alumnus fights in professional ring

Laura Myers | Friday, November 5, 2010

Mike Lee wears blue and gold gear when he fights. As he steps into the boxing ring for a match, a Notre Dame banner hangs behind him.

In his last year of college, Lee, a 2009 Notre Dame alumnus, was interviewing for jobs in the business world and training for his final Bengal Bouts tournament.

Now, he is two weeks away from his third professional boxing match, which will take place on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. But he keeps his amateur roots at the forefront.

“Notre Dame was such a huge part of my life,” Lee said. “I’ll always be a huge fan of Notre Dame, and always be involved. … We get a ton of support from the Notre Dame community, which is why we wanted to wear blue and gold.”

Lee’s fight, a four-round light heavyweight bout against Keith Debow of St. Louis, will be part of a headlining event that will feature boxing star Manny Pacquiao fighting Antonio Margarito for a world championship.

“This next fight is by far the biggest fight of my career,” Lee said. “… There should be 75-80,000 people there.”

Lee turned professional in January and signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing, the promotional company that represents Pacquiao as well as many other top boxers. He trains in Houston and won both of his first two matches, which took place in Chicago and at the Palms in Las Vegas.

“Things are going well,” he said. “I’ve been training in Houston, just getting better and better. I’ve gotten a lot of good comments from the boxing world, from fighters, from writers.”

Top Rank decided to place Lee on the Nov. 13 fight card, albeit with a little help.

“I met Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys,” Lee said. “When this fight came around, he apparently told Bob, ‘I want that kid, Mike Lee from Notre Dame, on the card.’

“It’s a big deal to be on this card, so I’m excited. They only have their top prospects.”

He said many Notre Dame alumni who live in the area will be coming to show their support.

“We have a lot of alumni clubs coming to this fight,” he said. “The fan base is especially great from Notre Dame.”

Lee, of Wheaton, Ill., donated a travel package for the event to Champions for Children’s, a charity auction that benefits Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital.

“The auction is an annual auction that they hold, they have a lot of Chicagoland athletes,” Lee said. “They approached me and we wanted to do something.”

The travel package includes air travel, hotel and ringside tickets for the event. The auction will be on Nov. 12.

“I wish I could be there,” Lee said. “But they told me it should auction for a lot of money, and it will go towards the hospital. And then I’ll be able to meet the people who came after my fight. I’m glad the hospital wanted me to be a part of it.”

Boxing and charity have always gone together for Lee. A three-time Bengal Bouts champion, Lee was a captain of the club in his senior year, and was one a part of one of the first group of boxers who traveled to Bangladesh in the summer of 2008.

“Staying involved in charity as well as doing what I love is important to me,” Lee said. “I think Bengal Bouts was the platform that started everything for me in terms of being involved in charity and really getting involved in many different levels. I just want to use my success and the publicity I’ve been getting to help out some people along the way.”