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Children aided by Bengal Bouts inspire captain Oloriz

Ernst Cleofe | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In the ring, nothing else matters. The crowd, the distractions and everything else are left in the darkness outside the ropes. It is the two fighters pitting their skill against one another, and that’s it. To junior captain Alex Oloriz, the beauty of Bengal Bouts is this simplicity.

“When the lights are on you, everything else is dark,” Oloriz said. “You’re in your own little world of canvas with leather gloves and your opponent.”

Though boxing has its critics due to its violent nature, Oloriz sees the sport in a very different light.

“My favorite thing about being inside the ring is that I’m alive fighting another person that’s alive, and we have one purpose,” he said. “I can put aside everything else, because for those two minutes all I need to do is box. It’s like nothing else, but the simplicity of it is beautiful.”

Oloriz, who plays the blues harmonica, even compares the fight to a symphony. In that case, Oloriz has almost achieved world-class composition during his last two tournaments.

As a freshman, Oloriz made it to the finals of the tournament, despite his inexperience. In the final round, Oloriz was pitted against then-senior captain John Maier. Inexperience finally caught up with Oloriz, as Maier won the title.

“Freshman year in the finals, I was fighting a captain and I was thinking, ‘Is this guy going to kill me?'” he said. “I was scared and nervous with all my friends out in the crowd as I walked up.”

A year later, he made another run at the title. Last year’s final pitted Oloriz against another then-senior, Matt Enzweiller, where Oloriz suffered another finals loss due in large part to Enzweiller’s seven-inch height advantage.

“The first year I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” he said. “But during the past two years the captains kept on telling me to be confident.”

For most people, a chance to make it back to the finals and win would be enough motivation. But for Oloriz, there is more to it than just winning. Oloriz said he dedicates his time and effort to his family and the people in Bangladesh.

“The mission for Bengal Bouts is to put on a good fight, but even though there’s a little bit of glory for you, there is a higher purpose,” he said. “You want to help support Bangladesh by bringing in more people to see good fights. And you want to make your parents proud.”

For Oloriz, Bengal Bouts have just added to the many experiences he shares with his family. His fights and training have become a common discussion topic. Last week, when the junior’s family attended his quarterfinal win for the first time, it was an incredible moment for Oloriz.

“[The quarterfinal fight] was the first time my parents were able to see me fight live and there was something magical about that night,” Oloriz said. “For them to see the result of the time and work that I put in, it meant to world to me. After the fight, I went over to my dad and just hugged him for a solid three minutes.”

Although there are outside motivators like individual accolades, Oloriz said he takes pride in raising money for a greater purpose, while doing something he loves.

“Every year in boxing is a blessing because I know it’s more than fighting,” he said. “We get to go out there and fight for a higher purpose.”

Recently, the training room walls were decorated with various letters from children in Bangladesh expressing their gratitude to the boxers. The visible manifestation of Bengal Bouts’ impact has only enhanced the meaning of the fights for Oloriz.

“I went through all of them to post a couple on the website and the thing that I can be most proud of is that the biggest reward is seeing that you are really making a difference,” he said. “In all of them they say, ‘I send you all of my love,’ and it’s inspiring to have a little bit of Bangladesh around.”

This season, Oloriz has used that inspiration to return to the finals, defeating junior Dallas Bunsa in a unanimous decision. He will look to take his first Bengal Bouts crown as he takes on senior Inoh Choe in the 165 lbs. final Saturday.


Contact Ernst Cleofe at ecleofe@nd.edu