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Bengal Bouts: Motivated Maier moves forward after finals loss

Laura Myers | Friday, February 26, 2010

John Maier has already amassed plenty of hardware from his four years participating in Bengal Bouts. All he needs now is a championship trophy to add to his shelf.

As a sophomore, Maier faltered in his first fight and later received the Bill Seech Award, given to the best boxer not to make it out of the preliminaries.

A year later, after losing in the championship fight to then-senior captain Dan Rodgers, Maier was named Most Improved Boxer. This year, the announcers even declared his nickname (“My Body is a Wonderland”) as the best one.

But Maier isn’t quite satisfied.

“I lost in a close fight and it just pushed me to come back even harder the next year,” Maier said of his 2009 championship bout. “It’s not to say that if I had won I wouldn’t have come back stronger, wanting to win it again, but it just pushed me that now I want to go in and win it all.”

He will have a chance to do so Saturday when he takes on freshman Alex Oloriz in the finals of the 160-pound weight class.

“I think every fighter that I’m going to fight is going to be pushing me and challenging me to be the best that I’ve trained for,” Maier said.

This summer, Maier learned firsthand that all of his training was about more than just a championship when he participated in Notre Dame’s first International Summer Service Learning Project in Bangladesh. During the six-week service trip, Maier and fellow boxers Bobby Powers, Sean Pennino and Jim Woods, all juniors, taught English at the Holy Cross Missions.

“[We] just really experienced Bangladesh and our missions and what our training goes for,” Maier said. “That experience, it just made everything that we do with boxing and trying to promote it as a leader that much more important. More boxers and more people staying and fighting just means more money for Bangladesh.”

The experience affected how he has functioned as a leader of the Bengal Bouts, Maier said, especially in relaying what he saw to younger fighters.

“In coming back as a senior captain, I’ve been able to tie in a lot more to how we train and what we train to other people,” he said.

Maier himself began fighting as a freshman when a friend from his section in Keough began needling him about going out for boxing. Maier finally assented, joining the club a week after novice season had started. It only took a week for the initial soreness to wear off and for Maier to get hooked, he said.

“Just coming in as a freshman, not really being involved in anything, I just saw it as something that could really structure my life here in college,” Maier said. “And then from that day on I just loved the training and loved the fight itself, and just kept doing it for four years.”

Accepting the captaincy as a senior was a natural progression, Maier said, that he had looked forward to since he joined.

“Ever since I’d gotten into boxing as a freshman I wanted to be a captain,” he said. “I wanted to be a leader in the program. I just thought it was something that I could be good at, and I wanted to help people. I really like helping people with boxing.”

Though his four years with Bengal Bouts have been marked with achievements from every aspect of the program, Maier still has one goal left to accomplish.

“I made it to the finals last year, and now it was the goal and determination to keep on training for the championship,” he said. “I think it’s just always pushing myself to do something better than I did last year.”