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Bengal Bouts are a source of pride

Observer Editorial Board | Friday, March 4, 2005

As most students take off for spring break this weekend, a select few will leave with some unfinished business. These students will be anticipating the final rounds of the Bengal Bouts tournament, which started this week and continues after break.

The Bouts, which began 75 years ago, are a unique experience for not only the boxers, but for the Notre Dame community as well. Founded in 1931 by Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano, the Bouts have a long-standing tradition of sportsmanship and competition. Boxing came to Notre Dame in the 1920s under the watchful eyes of legendary football coach Knute Rockne as a way to keep his football players in shape during the spring. But it wasn’t until Napolitano that the Bouts became what they are today – a largely competitive event with a twist.

Bengal Bouts isn’t entirely about the fights. The event is about the $45,000 the boxers raised last year to support the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. These missions, run by the Holy Cross Brothers, benefit the poor, bringing education and outreach programs to those in need. Every year the boxers raise money and fight for the cause.

These boxers are a unique group. They train months just for the opportunity to step in the ring. Half lose in the first round. Months of situps, pushups and training are thus all geared towards one fight. Sure, some fighters go on to be champions, but what about the rest?

They are, in a way, even more impressive.

Bengal Bouts and those who fight in them constitute another reason Notre Dame is a special place. The tradition, purpose and never-give-up attitude of the Bouts is one of a kind. So when spring break ends, students are encouraged to get out to the Joyce Center and support the fights. They will no doubt be impressed by the dedication and service found both in and out of the ring.