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Sports

Yi enters finals as captain, president, champion

| Thursday, February 27, 2014

Senior captain Dan Yi has a unique way to sum up Bengal Bouts.

“You get into the ring and you beat the crap out of each other and then you hug it out, he said. “That’s what I love about the bouts.”

The quote says as much about Yi as it does about Notre Dame Boxing Club’s signature event. He is the consummate humble warrior.

Yi has been the champion of his weight class each of the past three years.  In fact, he may have thrown one of the more memorable punches in Bengal Bout’s history last year when he knocked out former Notre Dame basketball player Mike Broghammer in the first round of the heavyweight final. Yi says that win has given him a fair bit of notoriety in the club.

Senior captain and club president Daniel Yi, right, dodges a punch from law student Brian Israel during his victory by unanimous decision in the semifinals on Tuesday. Yi has won three straight Bengal Bouts titles and will go for a historic fourth on Sunday against freshman Erich Jegier.Mike Monaco | The Observer

Senior captain and club president Daniel Yi, right, dodges a punch from law student Brian Israel during his victory by unanimous decision in the semifinals on Tuesday. Yi has won three straight Bengal Bouts titles and will go for a historic fourth on Sunday against freshman Erich Jegier.

“The first-year kids in the program definitely are like, ‘Hey, you’re Dan Yi! That was pretty cool,’” Yi said.

But Bengal Bouts has meant so much more than the mere victories, Yi said. The heavyweight fighter said he treasures the depth of his experience with Bengal Bouts and the family characteristics of the program.

“I’d have to say my favorite part is just kind of like that whole team aspect,” Yi said.

“There have been so many favorite moments, just the experience as a whole.”

At first, he largely joined the club as an athletic activity. Having played football in high school, the athlete in Yi was definitely attracted to the program.

“Coming here to Notre Dame, it was just something I really wanted to get involved in,” Yi said. “Obviously, just hearing about the whole mission of the bouts, but the fact that for me, like for a lot of non-student-athletes, Bengal bouts sounded like a great thing for me to get involved in.”

Yet, it has become much more than an athletic outlet and Yi is a large part of making the Bengal Bouts experience as impactful as it is. He has not only gotten involved, but has thrown himself fully into the program. He is the co-president of the club, has been a captain for two years and has even capitalized on his role as a Sorin Hall resident assistant to further his connection with club members.

“I have a number of freshman, sophomores and juniors in this dorm (Sorin),” Yi said. “This is their first year participating in the program and being an R.A. has been a great way to kind of get to know them. I feel like these last three years have just prepared me for this role.”

As Yi has moved up to senior captain, he said he has noticed increased respect from the younger competitor in the program, and its clear this added respect makes the humble man a bit uncomfortable.

“There hasn’t really been any sort of change in how I interact with everyone else,” Yi said. “It’s more so been like now they see me as a captain and a couple of times kids will call me like, ‘Sir,’ and I’m like, ‘No, please don’t do that.’”

Yi’s humility accompanies the reality that he is a fierce competitor who relishes the chance to get in the ring. Much of the competition involved in Bengal Bouts comes during the extensive training sessions, Yi said.

“Boxing is a competitive sport,” Yi said. “And I see it as a little ironic, you know, boxing is such an individualistic sport, but you train together, you spar together, you sweat together and again, it’s just that whole team aspect.”

With this in mind, Yi said he hopes that above all, more than his legacy as a champion, that he is a role model and helps others the way Bengal Bouts has helped him.

“Every prior year’s captain groups, especially in my freshman year, has had a pretty big impact on my decision to remain with the club,” Yi said. “They were an extremely supportive group. So I’ve just tried my best to be there as much as possible, since I have that label and added responsibility as a captain.”

Without a doubt, Yi stands apart as a leader and a sterling example of what Bengal Bouts can produce. Not only does he have a chance to join a select group of four-time champions, but he also has a spirit of appreciation for all that Notre Dame and the Bengal Bouts have been able to give to him, club’s other members, Bangladesh and beyond.

“The family aspect,” Yi said. “Whether it be through living on campus or through the Bengal Bouts program, there’s nothing that compares to what we have here at Notre Dame.”

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About Josh Dulany

Originally from Texas, I grew up overseas and attended high school in Ethiopia. I have always followed sports intently and enjoy watching and playing practically any sport. I am double majoring in Marketing and FTT.

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