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Bengal Bouts: Disobedient son becomes Bengal Bouts captain

Kyle Cassily | Friday, March 3, 2006

The last words Andrew McGill’s father said to his son as he dropped him off for freshman orientation were simple, yet clear: “Don’t join Bengal Bouts.”

McGill, a native of Erie, Penn., initially intended to heed his father’s advice, which came from a desire not to see his son tossed around in the ring. But the now-junior and Bengal Bouts captain has no regrets in disobeying his father.

“I tried to ease into it,” McGill said of telling his father he joined the boxing program. “After coming up the first year and seeing me fight, [my parents] saw I could keep up with these guys and not get my nose busted in. They calmed down and enjoyed watching.”

McGill first joined the boxing club with no intention of sparring or entering the tournament- he merely saw it as a way to get in shape with several other friends.

But he steadily broke his way into sparring contests and then decided to fight in the annual tournament to raise money for Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.

“My mom always films the fights, and in between the rounds she zooms in on my face to see if I’m alright,” McGill said of his parents’ continued concern.

McGill has done more than avoid a knockout in the ring; he has excelled in the program to become a captain via hard work and a strong ring presence.

As a freshman, McGill made it to the quarterfinals in the 140-pound weight class and last year lost in the semifinals. This year the fighter will compete in the 145-pound weight class – in order to focus more on personal health than the size of his opponents.

“This year I stayed healthy, not losing the weight, and developed my skills,” he said. “I’m fighting better than ever.”

McGill lost in the semifinals last year in a bout with Mike McCann – a match he describes as the toughest he has faced. McCann hit with force and the post-spring break placement of the fight left McGill in the best of shape.

“The key when you go into that ring is to plan ahead what you want to do,” McGill said. “The person who stays with their plan and carries it out, will win. You dictate the pace, you dictate how the fight is fought and you should be victorious.”

Another key component for McGill is intense training. The past two years he has spent more than three hours a day in the gym getting in fighting shape and teaching novice boxers the ropes.

McGill said his work ethic was a factor in his selection as captain for this year, and he now works to teach young fighters how to succeed both in the ring and in life with the gloves off.

“You have a 150 guys all looking up to you, asking you questions, watching you box and trying to learn from you,” McGill said. “It’s a great honor to be involved with an event of such history, and follow in the long line of tradition.”

McGill stresses not only the boxing aspect of the Bengal Bouts, but also the charity work it promotes in Bangladesh with the Holy Cross missions. He said he feels pride in being involved in an organization that helps to better the lives of those suffering in poverty.

“If someone buys a ticket, it feeds a family for a week – from just buying a $10 ticket,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling to know that you’re disciplining yourself. You’re making friends, getting in shape, learning how to box, but at the same time you’re being a great benefit to such a great organization as Holy Cross missions.”

Not bad at all for a guy who disobeyed his parents.