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Bengal Bouts

Lucas Sullivan to continue to serve after graduation

| Friday, February 27, 2015

Last year, Lucas Sullivan reached the quarterfinals in the 190-pound weight class of the Bengal Bouts tournament. He was prepared to train as hard as possible go deeper in the bouts this year and possibly win, and that’s why he was so devastated when he didn’t get the chance.

“I have stress fractures in my legs, so I can’t fight this year,” Sullivan said. “I found out I wouldn’t be able to fight about two weeks before the tournament, but I had suspected it for a while before that.”

Although the senior was originally upset about his injury, he said he knew he had to accept it and focus his efforts on helping other boxers. Viewers watching the bouts this year have probably seen Sullivan in a corner giving younger fighters advice between rounds.

“When the doctor told me it pretty much confirmed what I already knew, but I was still pretty upset,” Sullivan said. “Obviously it sucks not being able to fight, especially for my senior year, but I didn’t want to risk making the problem worse. I found the best way to deal with it has been to stay involved by cornering for guys and talking them through the fights. It doesn’t compare to getting in the ring myself, but for me it’s the next best thing.”

Senior Lucas Sullivan, right, fights in the 2014 Bengal Bouts at Joyce Fieldhouse on Feb. 17, 2014. Sullivan missed this year’s tournament.Emily McConville | The Observer

Senior Lucas Sullivan, right, fights in the 2014 Bengal Bouts at Joyce Fieldhouse on Feb. 17, 2014. Sullivan missed this year’s tournament.

While “cornering,” Sullivan gives fighters advice and an outside perspective. Even the most experienced fighters aren’t perfect, and small adjustments go a long way in boxing, he said.

“I think [cornering] is fun, and it’s the next best thing to fighting, especially when you see guys are listening to you and making adjustments between the rounds, and I feel like I’m affecting the fight in some way. … You wouldn’t really think so, but minor adjustments can make a huge difference in a fight.”

The off-campus senior from Rochester, New York, joined the boxing club his sophomore year, after swimming and playing volleyball and lacrosse in high school.

“[Boxing] is unlike anything I’ve ever done,” Sullivan said. “The closest comparison I would make is to swimming because they are both kind of individual sports. There aren’t any teammates out there in the ring, and in swimming you dive in and you’re on your own. But, especially here, we really try to make boxing a team thing.”

The novice boxers have been preparing for the bouts since the week after fall break, and even before his injury, Sullivan would walk around and offer his guidance. Along with the rest of the captains, his hard work has paid off, and there were many high quality fights this year, even in the preliminary round. His will and joy in helping others discovered through Bengal Bouts will serve him well after graduation, he said.

“I’ve been in NROTC since freshman year, and I’ll be commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps when I graduate,” Sullivan said. “I think that in a lot of ways, Bengal Bouts mirrors a lot of the same ideals the military strives towards, and the ‘strong bodies fight’ mantra is central to that. At practice, we really try to stress to guys, through things like ‘Mission Monday’ and showing the ‘Strong Bodies Fight’ documentary, that we aren’t here for boxing, we’re here for the missions in Bangladesh.

“I think a lot of guys would agree when I say that even after boxing for a while, I’m really never going to be more than a halfway decent amateur boxer,” Sullivan continued. “The lasting impact of the Bengal Bouts program comes from the fundraising we do for the missions. The guys who have been on the ISSLP over there really embody that energy and are always thinking of new ways that we can raise money and help the missions. I think the lessons I learned from Bengal Bouts will stick with me in the Marines, and I’ll be able to remind myself that I’m not just doing it for me.”

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