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Bengal Bouts

Hinman finds silver lining in semifinal loss

| Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chris Hinman finished his final Bengal Bouts on the wrong end of a split decision on Tuesday. The law student said he will never forget that semifinal loss, which stands out as his favorite memory of the past two years with the boxing club.

“I’ve been through countless spars and workouts and nights controlling my nerves and all of those will stay with me forever,” Hinman said. “But I think my favorite memory ever is my fight last night. It was a split-decision loss, so I’m not going any further, but it was one hell of a fight. I haven’t boxed that well in this tournament and I fought a really tough fighter. It was just a very rewarding experience.”

Senior captain Chris Hinman, left, connects on a jab to the face of freshman Garrett Schmelling in the semifinal round Tuesday night.Mike Monaco | The Observer

Senior captain Chris Hinman, left, connects on a jab to the face of freshman Garrett Schmelling in the semifinal round Tuesday night.

Going up against Garrett Schmelling in the 146-pound weight class, Hinman threw combination after combination at the freshman, then embraced him once the bout ended. For Hinman, the fight embodied the very best the Bouts have to offer.

“We got through a minute-and-a-half of just going blow for blow with this kid and we were both just exhilarated from engaging in that level of athletic competition, but we walked up to each other and hugged,” Hinman said. “The fact that you can go toe to toe with a guy for three rounds and then hug each other speaks volumes about the character of the program and the character of the people that are in it.”

Hinman nearly missed out on that experience. He had no previous boxing experience and had never even heard about Bengal Bouts before he came to Notre Dame.

“In my first semester in the fall, Bengal Bouts was advertising for law students to come out,” Hinman said. “Brian Salvi was one of the guys that really got me into it and he told me that we always send a few law guys to the Bouts and I thought that it would be a good workout. I had never boxed before but it seemed like a good idea.”

After his first season, Hinman became even more involved with the program thanks to his friendship with fellow law student Brian Ellixson, who served as a captain for the past two years and as president of the boxing club this season. Like so many boxers before him, Hinman came to love the sense of camaraderie and community that the club fosters and was named a captain at the end of last season.

“If you talk to any of the guys [involved with the club], they’ll tell you that Bengal Bouts is a really unique program,” Hinman said. “There’s nothing like it anywhere else as far as amateur boxing goes.”

As one of the oldest fighters in the program, Hinman brings maturity and experience in his role as captain that he enjoys sharing with novice boxers.

“It’s very cool being older and watching guys evolve and get in shape and learn how to box, especially with the younger undergrads that are just getting started,” Hinman said. “You psych them up and calm them down when you need to and then you turn around and it’s two months later, you’re in the ring and the kid that was so nervous before his first spar is fighting you for a spot in the finals. It’s a unique and very awesome experience.”

For Hinman, the essence of Bengal Bouts is education, not only in the ring but also across the world in the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh.
“Our core mission is providing aid for Bangladesh,” Hinman said. “There’s this overarching idea that we’re doing something for something bigger than ourselves. It’s a great opportunity to get in shape and learn a challenging sport but at the same time, we are part of a high goal of giving one of the greatest gifts anyone can give: an education. They’re not so much starving for food over there as they’re starving for education, and we’re able to give them that opportunity.”

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg