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Bengal Bouts: Chasing dreams

Kyle Cassily | Friday, March 3, 2006

Chris Calderone knows from experience that to be the best, you have to beat the best.

The junior Bengal Bouts captain and No. 1 seed in the 155-pound weight class has faced a tough draw of opponents in the past and says he is ready to be the top fighter in this year’s Bouts.

As a freshman in the 160-pound weight class, Calderone won in the preliminaries, only to drop a tough bout in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Colin Kerrigan.

The next year – his first at 155 – Calderone slugged his way to the semifinals where he faced Bengal Bouts president Galen Loughery. Loughery knocked off Calderone and went on to win the weight class. For the second straight year, Calderone had been handed defeat at the hands of the champion.

“It made it harder because it felt like, ‘Wow, I would have won the whole thing,” Calderone said.

“I’m not pushing anything but I’m hoping to win the whole thing,” he said of his hopes for this year’s Bouts.

Calderone’s interest in boxing grew out of the lack of another sport at Notre Dame – varsity wrestling. Calderone wrestled for four years in high school and joined the Boxing Club in search of a substitute to the sport.

“I kind of ended up liking boxing better,” he said. “I just really liked the sport and the whole Bengal Bouts program was just great. It’s a teamwork thing, but you also get to compete individually too.”

Calderone admitted that when he joined Bengal Bouts he did not know much about the charity side of the event. Since then he has learned the value of the Congregation of the Holy Cross’ Bangladesh missions.

“After I became a part of [the Boxing Club], it was added incentive to stay with it,” he said of the missions that Bengal Bouts funds. “It gives added purpose to it. You’re not just boxing for the heck of it; your boxing for a great cause.”

Calderone said he enjoys the group training aspect of the club, as it gives a sense of teamwork and friendship akin to high school athletic teams. And now that the former Morrissey resident lives off-campus, Calderone enjoys training with comrades he doesn’t have the ability to see as often.

“You make some great friendships,” he said. “Everyone’s working together, you’re holding mitts for other kids, you’re pushing each other.”

Now that he is a junior captain, Calderone relishes the opportunity to improve the skills of underclassmen and be a leader in such a respected program.

“We had some great upperclassmen that taught me as a freshman,” he said. “It’s probably been the best thing I’ve done at Notre Dame so far.”