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Bengal Bouts: Hansen bounces back from sophomore illness

Kate Gales | Friday, March 2, 2007

After months of training for his first Bengal Bouts tournament in 2005, only one thing could keep Steve Hansen out of the ring – mononucleosis.

“Two or three weeks before the tournament they told me I couldn’t fight, so that was a huge letdown,” he said.

Hansen joined the Bengal Bouts squad as a sophomore after playing football and club rugby in high school.

“I was looking for an activity and a good workout, and a few of my friends were doing it too, and then from there it just kind of escalated,” Hansen said.

After recovering from mono, the senior captain was 1-1 last year, losing in the semifinals of the 165-pound weight class, and won his preliminary match this year at 170.

“I’d definitely say it’s motivation, having lost last year,” he said. “You definitely want to come back and definitely want to win the tournament this year for my weight class.”

But for Hansen, it’s not just about winning – it’s about the entire Bengal Bouts experience. He was particularly moved by a speech one coach gave at the beginning of the season, when he pointed out that half of the people in the club would train for months and fight only a few minutes in the tournament.

“You should realize that the journey that you’re going on … is one of the rewarding aspects too,” Hansen said.

The Milwaukee native said he enjoyed the training for Bengal Bouts.

“I love being in practice and getting in the ring with my teammates,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like I could spar all day long. The physical aspect of it and the sporting competition aspect is my favorite part of it.”

The relationship with his teammates in Bengal Bouts is also a draw for Hansen. Some of his friends got involved when he did sophomore year, and he found that competition and working with teammates was part of what kept him coming back into the ring.

“I’ve made some of my best friends through boxing,” he said.

Hansen also has taken on a leadership role as a senior captain – which means more than being featured on posters around campus. As captain, he works with younger boxers.

“The first time someone goes into the ring they don’t do very well – they kind of get beat up,” he said. “That’s why we like to encourage people to get in for the first time with the captains, so the captains can help them improve.”

Taking on a leadership role has also meant more of a time commitment for Hansen. The mechanical engineering major has learned both leadership and time management through his role at the Bouts – something he said has come up at job interviews.

“People are pretty impressed,” Hansen said. “It’s kind of like having a sport on your résumé and you’re still able to hold good grades – they know you’re able to manage your time well.”

Hansen has already accepted a job with General Electric and will be working with MRI scanners near Milwaukee. The comfort of having post-graduation employment means that he can relax and devote more time to training for the Bouts.

“I still do my coursework but I’ve decided that I really want to put a lot of time and energy into boxing,” he said.

For his senior season, he will have a cheering section of both family and friends at the Joyce Center.

“My mom and dad are coming down for most of [the fights],” he said. “All my housemates come and watch, I’ve got some family flying from D.C. on Wednesday and coming in from Pittsburgh.”

That’s quite an entourage, but this is Hansen’s final year of fighting, and he said his family has been very supportive.

“I would say more people are coming out this year since it’s my senior year and I’m a captain – my family fan-base is a little bigger,” he said.

Looking back, Hansen said some of his best memories are of his work with the Bengal Bouts.

“I really enjoyed the workouts and it was for a good cause,” he said. “It caught on as a great way to release energy and an exciting way to compete with other people.”