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Women’s Boxing Club emphasizes service

Nicole Michels | Monday, October 8, 2012

The Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Club trains women to fight – and to serve.

Through their annual Baraka Bouts tournament, club members raise money to send to two schools in Uganda, team co-president Katherine Leach said.

“Baraka means blessing in Swahili, and we have had a longstanding relationship with the Holy Cross missions in Uganda through Bengal Bouts,” Leach said. “We donate the money we raise to two schools in Uganda.”

Team co-captain Ragan Todd said the club has a dual focus, a fact many students are not aware of.

“We really want to emphasize that this is not just an athletic club, but a service club as well,” Todd said. “A lot of girls started out getting into it because they thought it would be a great workout, but sending money over is a huge part.”

To qualify for the upcoming two-day tournament that begins Nov. 5, women must complete physical training with the team and meet a fundraising requirement, Leach said.

“We have a minimum of $250 fundraising each year per girl, which includes a variety of methods: selling tickets, placing ads in our program [and] things on our own,” Leach said.

Leach said the team also raises money through participation in the Power 24 Hour, the club’s signature fundraising event.

“We also have our newly instated Power 24 Hour – last year was our first year [running the event for 24 hours instead of one hour] and we more than doubled what we did in any previous year … we will be running it again this Friday,” she said.

During the event, the team solicits donations by exercising together, Todd said.

“We have girls out in front of South Dining Hall in shifts doing pushups, jumping jacks and sit ups … raising money and collecting donations from people,” Todd said.

The Power 24 Hour attracts a lot of attention, Todd said.

“We try to do it on home football weekends to target the alumni … trying to get donations from college students probably is not going to be as successful as getting donations from people who have graduated and come back to campus,” Todd said. “Usually we see a lot of curiosity and confusion and then when they find out what it is a lot of incredulous looks; it’s fun to be able to explain [our mission] to people who don’t know what we’re doing.”

The club raised a total of $20,000 last year, its highest total ever.

“$20,000 is a huge thing, even bigger for the communities we help,” Leach said. “I just remember how much it means to each individual student and to each school as a whole … being able to remain a highly respected institution, to give these kids the resources that they need so that they can stay in school, to not have to make kids commute impossible distances so that they can support themselves.”

Leach said the club focuses intensely on maintaining its charitable purpose.

“We try to make sure the girls are reminded for why we do these things – just this week we had Fr. Alobo with Holy Cross who has worked over there [talk to the team] about his experience,” Leach said. “He thanked them for their participation and encouraged them in their efforts … we also have captains who have visited the schools talk.”

Fr. Leonard Olobo, director of the Holy Cross Mission Center, was born in Uganda and served as the district steward in East Africa for the Center for Social Concerns from 2003 to 2009.

Leach said she hopes to see the club continue growing in size and strength.

“We hope to increase the amount of participation in the club – this will be our tenth Baraka Bouts year, and just the fact that we made it this long and that the club still seems to be growing year by year is huge,” Leach said. “The amount of boxing and technical skill the girls have is incredible and keeps increasing, just as the donation amounts keep increasing.”