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Queens of the ring

Joe Hettler | Thursday, November 20, 2003

They’re fighting on their own now, so the boys better watch out.For the first time in Notre Dame boxing history, the women’s training is completely separate from the men’s and will box in exhibition matches for their own charity tonight at 7.”This is our first year when we’re having our own night of bouts without the men’s program,” co-president Sara Helmig said. Unlike last season, when the men and women trained together and the men then fought in the Bengal Bouts tournament, while the women simply had exhibition matches, the women will have their own individual bouts and these bouts scored. The club has between 80-100 people working out at various times throughout the training period and some practice five to six days a week. For Thursday, there are 38 women fighting in 19 bouts, with each fighter participating in one match. “This is a transition year so we’re moving toward more of a tournament format,” Helmig said. “This isn’t a varsity sport but at the same time you have to practice a lot to sharpen your skills.”Helmig said that the bouts will be scored this year, unlike last year’s bouts, and there are no weight classes. The fighters will be paired by skill and height.The women’s club has been around for eight years, but never has been separated from the men’s. Helmig said the main reason the women chose to have their own Bengal Bouts was because of limited practice space during training and not enough coaches to help out.”We shared coaches with the men’s program and the past two years there’s been quite an overflow in terms of practices and being in each others way,” Helmig said. “It’s no one’s fault because we share the boxing room and it’s the only place we can practice and it just didn’t work out all the time.”The club has two presidents and six additional captains who all began discussing changing the format of the women’s bouts in the spring. But it didn’t become a reality until school resumed this fall. Now the women have been training for eight weeks, all in preparation for Thursday’s events. Hemlig said she believes the change has been beneficial to the women.”It’s something we talked about, but it was something in the long run. It will benefit practice time and make a name for ourselves and the charity we represent,” Helmig said.The club will choose a different charity each year, with this season’s charity being a girls’ sport camp in Honduras. The organization was brought to the girls’ attention by the men’s coaches.”We decided we wanted to deal with women’s issues and some international because the American dollar goes a lot further internationally,” Helmig said. “We all kept our eyes and ears open to different charities we would want to get involved in. We came across this sports camp for girls and we thought it fits in really well with our program and what we represent and what we promote.”The club is not charging any money for entrance to this year’s event, but Helmig said they will be taking donations at the door for the Honduras charity.Many of the club’s members played sports in high school and were looking to continue athletics in intramurals at Notre Dame. After discovering the women’s club, Helmig didn’t think she’d make it through many practices, but stuck with it. She said the other girls have done a great job with the training schedule and preparations.”I didn’t really know anything about the women’s boxing my freshman year,” Helmig said. “The girls have been great. The 38 girls have put in the hours and done what it takes and made us proud. They’ve stepped up and gotten it done.”