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Bengal Bouts

Neville emphasizes service aspect of Bouts

| Thursday, February 27, 2014

Like many Bengal Bouts fighters, senior Ricky Neville originally joined the club to fill a competitive void left open when his high school athletics career came to a close.

“I played football in high school, so when I got to school I wanted another sport to play,” the former Fisher Hall resident said. “I wanted to be a part of a team, and have that camaraderie.”

Senior captain Ricky Neville, right, prepares for a hook from senior Michael Smoljan in the semifinal round Tuesday night. Neville was victorious by split decision and will fight junior Evan Escobedo in the finals Sunday for a chance at his first championship after falling in last year's title bout.Emmet Farnan

Senior captain Ricky Neville, right, prepares for a hook from senior Michael Smoljan in the semifinal round Tuesday night. Neville was victorious by split decision and will fight junior Evan Escobedo in the finals Sunday for a chance at his first championship after falling in last year’s title bout.

What kept him in the ring, though, was much deeper than satisfying his competitive desire.

“After I first joined, I learned more and more about the Holy Cross mission in Bangladesh, and that really grew into my motivation as I competed and continued in the program.”

Neville quickly realized how everything the program does in one way or another relates back to the Holy Cross Mission. The contributions from Bengal Bouts help fund schools and health facilities, and the program also sends boxers over to Bangaldesh to teach in those schools every summer.

“It’s something that’s unique with boxing and this program in particular,” Neville said. “We train with each other and then spar against one another, and the whole time we’re giving each other tips, helping improve each other’s technique. These are the same guys you end up fighting against down the road, but at the end of the day we’re trying to put on a good show. If we do that, more people come and we bring in more money.”

One quality that immediately jumps out about Neville, particularly when he’s in the ring, is his relentless determination. He often peaks in the final round. Sunday, Neville will enter the ring one last time for his “final round,” and after falling in the quarterfinals his freshman and sophomore year and in the finals last year, he’s hoping he can capture the elusive championship.

“I’d just really like to go out with a win,” Neville said. “I’m fighting one of my good friends from Fisher, Evan Escobedo. He’s a really good fighter, and it’ll be tough to win. It’ll be a very intense, competitive fight.”

As he counts down the days to his final fight, Neville has also started to reminisce about what he’ll miss when he hangs up the gloves for the last time Sunday night.

“Boxing is such a unique sport, unlike other sports I’ve played where you have an entire team,” Neville said. “Obviously, you’re training with the guys, but when it goes down to it it’s just you competing one-on-one in the ring. It’s just you up there in the ring, and there’s nowhere to go. You can’t hide, and it’s such a huge rush. That’s something I probably will never experience again.”

While being a captain isn’t a role Neville aspired to, per se, he said he welcomed the opportunity to be one of the torchbearers for the club for this year.

“I had no idea I was going to be asked, and I never really thought about it, but I got a call a few weeks after I lost in last year’s finals,” he said. “I said ‘of course’, and it’s definitely an honor to be one.”

Of the many responsibilities for captains, which include leading workouts and making sure the fight nights run smoothly, there were two particular responsibilities which Neville found particularly rewarding.

“It’s on our shoulders to spearhead the fundraising effort,” he said. “It’s shown me where exactly the money goes. How it helps the people of Bangladesh with education and health facilities is one of the more fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”

“Another awesome thing has been training the novices. They come in and early you see them really struggling with technique, but slowly you see them progress right up until the fights. It’s been really cool this year especially because we’ve had a lot of novices advance pretty far.”

For as calculating and mentally sound a fighter as Neville is – he always seems one step ahead of his opponent – his plans for after graduation this May might come as somewhat of a surprise.

“I have no idea [what I’ll do],” he said. “That is a great, great question. We’ll see. I won’t be boxing. I know that.”

Neville will throw on the gloves one last time Sunday, when he takes on Evan Escobedo in the 190 pound final.

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