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Boxers fight to raise funds for Bangladesh

| Monday, February 15, 2016

The boxers participating in the 2016 Bengal Bouts are fighting — not just in the ring, but also to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh, a country where most people make under two dollars a day, according to the Bengal Bouts website.

According to senior captain Mike Grasso, the combined efforts of the boxers participating in the bouts raises over $100,000 every year, which goes to the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. Grasso said that the boxers raise the money through a variety of ways including ticket sales, donations, sponsoring and ad sales.

Adam Pasquinelly, right, clinches Ryan Dunn at Sunday night's preliminary bouts.Zachary Llorens | The Observer

Adam Pasquinelly, right, tries to clinch Ryan Dunn at Sunday night’s preliminary bouts.

“Besides [Bengal Bouts being a] display of all of our hard work in the ring and our endurance and our strength, we really have a greater mission and a greater purpose in serving those less fortunate than us in Bangladesh,” Grasso said. “For example, a $150 donation is the same as sponsoring a child’s tuition for a full year and their room and board at the school. With just a little money, we can really help these people.”

Freshman Cam Nolan agreed, and said that the most important part of Bengal Bouts is the mission behind it.

“I liked that there is a purpose behind the sacrifice — instead of just playing sports for the fun of it, it’s playing sports for the good of another,” Nolan said. “Knowing that the money and the fight is for a good cause, and knowing that I am going this summer to see firsthand what that cause is, and knowing the reasons for our suffering, it’s given me so much motivation to work hard and to suffer.”

Grasso said he credits the greater mission with uniting the boxers into one team, even while participating in an extremely individualistic sport.

“We start off every week with our ‘Mission Monday,’ and that ‘Mission Monday’ really emphasizes the main point that we’re here to serve those less fortunate than us,” he said.  “When we start off our practices with that tone, when every boxer knows that we are here [for that purpose], we use that as fuel for our workouts. And we know that the harder we work, the better shape that we’re in, the more entertaining the bouts will be. And the more entertaining the bouts are, the more people will donate and come to the bouts and the more money we’ll raise.”

Junior captain Alex Alcantara said while people may have entered Bengal Bouts because of their interest in the sport of boxing, most people chose to stay because of the team bond that ultimately forms.

“Most people are drawn to the Bouts for the competition aspect of it,” he said. “However, I think what makes them stay up until senior year is the camaraderie and teamwork that they build, as well as becoming part of the mission.”

However, Alcantara said the boxers do not just raise money for this far-off country and forget about it. They are invested in the work the missions provide in the country. Many boxers participate in an International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) in Bangladesh, which is sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns.

Alcantara went to Bangladesh over the summer of 2015, along with three other boxers. The boxers stayed in Bangladesh for two months, teaching English during the day and helping during Mass at night.

“The best part of the experience, is knowing that we’ve supported [the people of Bangladesh] for 86 years,” he said. “It really felt [like] we were family with the people we were helping, which was really the most rewarding part.”

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