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Bengal Bouts denies linebacker Anthony McDonald chance to fight

Chris Allen | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The first fights of the 82nd Bengal Bouts take place Sunday, but the annual boxing competition sparked brief controversy Tuesday afternoon when former Irish football player Anthony McDonald was denied entry into the tournament.

McDonald, a linebacker who would have fought in the heavyweight division, did not meet minimum practice or spar requirements, the Men’s Boxing Club said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“We have a weekly attendance policy,” the statement read. “There is also a minimum number of spars that each boxer must complete in order to participate in the annual Bengal Bouts tournament.”

McDonald showed up to complete his first spar Tuesday afternoon but was turned away in a joint decision between the captains and Nathan Walker, the RecSports contact for Bengal Bouts. Each boxer must complete three spars minimum in order to participate in the tournament. McDonald said the captains cited his lack of attendance at practice as the reason for his exclusion.

“I go in there [Tuesday] to spar,” he said late Tuesday night. “The one [captain], [senior] Kevin [Ortenzio] comes up to me and basically told me that I wasn’t going to be able to compete because I haven’t been going to workouts, and it’s a team sport, and all the guys in the club have been doing this since last fall and this spring.”

McDonald said he cited his football commitment as an excuse for missing fall practices.

“I told him ‘I couldn’t go in the fall, I had football,’” McDonald said. “He told me that since I hadn’t been going to the workouts, I was out of luck and wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Boxing senior captain Collin Feduska said the decision to turn McDonald away was based on practice and spar requirements.

“Bengal Bouts is about coming together, practicing, fighting in the fights and raising money for Bangladesh,” Feduska said.

The captain said McDonald had been training in another gym but not with the team, so the captains were unfamiliar with him as a fighter.

“Bengal Bouts is already a liability to RecSports and we can’t just send a guy out in the ring without having seen him fight,” Feduska said.

McDonald raised the required $500 for Bangladesh and turned in the questionnaire all boxers must turn in before fighting. Feduska said the captains were thrilled McDonald raised money for the cause.

“We’re happy he raised money for us,” Feduska said. “That was huge. The donations are fantastic.”

Regardless, senior captain Connor Skelly said the practice and spar requirements made it impossible to admit McDonald.

“It’s a bummer,” Skelly said. “We would have loved to have him, but weigh-ins are [Wednesday]. We have other football players fighting, and we would have loved to have him.”

McDonald said senior walk-on Chris Salvi is participating in the Bouts after taking part in practices since Christmas Break. Salvi’s older brother, Brian, won the 167-pound division in last year’s tournament.

McDonald’s teammates took to Twitter in outrage upon hearing about the linebacker’s exclusion from the Bouts, but McDonald made no comments on the website. For his part, McDonald said he would love the chance to compete in the Bouts.

“I would love to compete. I’m not going in there to go crazy and be Rocky Balboa,” he said. “I’m not trying to go in there and [mess] everyone up. I’m not that type of guy.”

The Bengal Bouts preliminaries get underway Sunday at 1 p.m., and the tournament concludes with March 3 finals in Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Matt DeFranks and Kelsey Manning contributed to this report.