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Baraka Bouts celebrates 10th anniversary

Peter Steiner | Monday, November 5, 2012

In Swahili, the word “baraka” means blessing, prosperity or opportunity.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Baraka Bouts has exemplified all three aspects of this term for the last decade. The annual charity bouts have been a blessing to many deprived children in Uganda, exceedingly prosperous in charity and participation and an opportunity for young women to grow in mind, body and service.

This year’s 10th annual charity bouts mark the success of a program and tournament that started with humble beginnings, but has become a thriving athletic and charity organization.

While the women’s boxing program was founded in 1997, Baraka Bouts first began in 2002 with charity at the core of its mission. From its onset, the proceeds of the annual bouts have assisted the education of needy children by supporting the Holy Cross Missions in East Africa.

“Baraka Bouts has been a blessing to both the Notre Dame community, but most importantly to St. Joseph’s community in Uganda and all the other children in Uganda that have benefited from the donations we raise,” senior co-president Courtney Currier said.

Over its 10-year history, the prosperity of Baraka Bouts has grown immensely. From fundraising to the actual bouts, the event has recently advanced in many concrete ways.

“We are now a two-night tournament and we have over a hundred girls participating this year,” senior co-president Kat Leach said. “We changed from a Power Hour to our Power 24-Hour and raised close to $2,000 this year, which was incredible. I think the boxing gets better every year. The girls learn more and more and the bouts seem to be more competitive, cleaner and more technical each and every year.”

These improvements have clearly benefited the charitable aspect of Baraka Bouts. Last year the club widened the scope of its mission by supporting another secondary school in Uganda.

“We actually just expanded last year to start sending money to the Holy Cross Missions to support two different schools,” senior captain Brianna Kunycky said. “We used to just support the Lakeview Secondary School in Uganda, but now we also support the St. Joseph’s Hill Secondary School because we expanded our program to include two bout nights.”

Though Baraka Bouts helps many children abroad, the women’s boxing program also has a significant impact on the women stepping into the ring, Leach said.

“I think [Baraka Bouts] is a really unique Notre Dame experience,” Leach said. “Not many girls come to this program having any experience with boxing and it’s an opportunity to challenge themselves, to try something new, to learn a new sport. We come in each and every day and work extremely hard.”

No one can attest to these benefits of boxing more than current Notre Dame professor Aimee Buccellato, who founded the women’s boxing program in 1997 and has watched Baraka Bouts progress over the years.

“I think it’s fantastic [that Baraka Bouts is celebrating its 10th anniversary],” Buccellato said. “I’m extremely proud of these women. I think the experience and participation in a sport like boxing is not just a physical one; it’s a mental one. Anybody who is willing to get in between the ropes, under the big lights in a very public place is bound to be able to take that experience with them throughout their lives.”

In the end, celebrating the 10th anniversary of these charity bouts means celebrating the all the lives – both at Notre Dame and in Uganda – that have been enriched by the blessing that is Baraka Bouts.


Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu