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Irish to hold first tournament

Mike Gilloon | Thursday, November 18, 2004

Anne Kwiatt shrugged at the thought of getting punched in the face.

“It doesn’t hurt as much as it looks,” the former high school golfer and current member of the Notre Dame women’s boxing club said. “It’s really more of a shock.”

Whether it hurts or not, Kwiatt and 40 other women will participate in the first-ever Baraka Bouts tonight at 7 p.m. in auxiliary gym 1 of the Joyce Center.

Modeled after the Bengal Bouts, the Baraka Bouts will raise money for Holy Cross mission schools in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Admission is $2 and T-shirts featuring the Baraka Bouts logo and a quote from Muhammad Ali will be sold for $15.

“This year is the first year we’re actually having a tournament,” club president Amanda Borys said. “So we’re really excited about it.”

There isn’t a specific dollar amount the club wants to raise but Borys believes a figure around $10,000 would satisfy her.

“It would be a nice, round number to shoot for,” Borys said. “I think it can be done but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of people coming.”

The club has been around for nine years. However, the women were not allowed to fight in public until spring 2003 when a number of club members fought on the under card to the Bengal Bouts. Last fall the club held its first independent event, featuring 19 exhibition matches.

Tonight there will be 11 brackets with boxers seeded according to experience and ability. Champions will be crowned in each four-person bracket.

“The more experienced boxers are obviously seeded higher than some of the less experienced boxers,” Kwiatt said. “But pretty much everyone is around the same area of skill level so we should see some good, clean fights.”

The club has been practicing since the first week of school under the assistance of first-year coach Stefan Borovina, a 2004 Notre Dame graduate and two-time Bengal Bout heavyweight champion. Since most of the girls have no boxing experience prior to college, they must rely on Borovina’s knowledge and their own skills acquired playing other sports.

Borys played basketball, volleyball and soccer in high school and likes the competitive atmosphere the boxing club provides for her at Notre Dame.

“I think that in the club there’s people that want to do it for fun, people that want to learn how to box and then there’s people that have that really competitive, killer instinct,” she said. “I might be one of those people.”

The competitive nature of the sport was one of the draws for Kwiatt, but there were also other aspects that drew her to the club.

“Probably the best part of boxing is really getting to know a great bunch of girls who are out to challenge themselves mentally, emotionally and physically,” she said. “But, at the same time, doing it all for a good cause.”

Senior Melanie Irvine joined the women’s boxing club three years ago when a friend of hers was competing in the Bengal Bouts.

“I saw that there were women involved [in boxing] and I was really interested because it seemed like a unique thing to be doing,” she said. “So I went out the next year and loved it so much I never turned back.”