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Bengal Bouts: Severyn receives guidance from Bouts legend Lee

Vicky Jacobsen | Friday, March 4, 2011

Senior Nick Severyn will compete in his first Bengal Bouts championship fight this Friday night, but his Bengal Bouts story began before he even arrived at campus.

Four years ago, the former high school athlete went looking for a way to stay active when a family friend first suggested that he take up boxing.

“I went to high school with a guy named Mike Lee who fought here two years ago, and he was the first person that turned me on to it,” Severyn said. “Boxing seemed like the right avenue for me. Plus, all my friends basically did it, so it was pretty much natural freshman year.”

But the road has not always been easy for Severyn — his first challenge was convincing his skeptical parents that boxing was a good idea.

“Mom hated it when I first told her, especially because I was doing rugby anyways,” Severyn said. “She raised this intelligent kid and she’s seeing his brain go to mush after playing these two vicious contact sports.”

After much persuading on Severyn’s part, his parents finally relented, and have remained some of his staunchest supporters.

“I got Mike Lee to talk to them a lot, and they eventually opened up to it,” Severyn said. “I think I might have had forged their signature on the first sign up, but other than that they’ve stayed behind me. They’re from Chicago, so they always come up to see all my fights. They’ve been really supportive throughout the entire process.”

Although Severyn and Lee, who became a professional fighter last February, successfully converted his parents into boxing supporters that season, Severyn’s triumph did not extend to the ring. Severyn, who competed in the 140-pound weight class, faced a 26-year-old MBA student in his first match, which he lost by split decision.

His luck didn’t improve the next year, and he was forced to sit out his sophomore season after undergoing thumb surgery to correct a rugby injury.

Severyn won his first fight as a junior and earned a berth in the semifinal round before falling to Greg Bennett, the eventual champion of his weight class.

While Severyn has never made it to a final match before, some of his friends have enjoyed major success in the ring — a fact that the senior says motivated him during his senior campaign.

“Both my friends Mike Doran and Bobby Powers make fun of me daily for not winning a championship here yet,” Severyn said. “They actually both have an extra year on me because I had thumb surgery sophomore year, but they constantly make fun of me for not being able to wear the champions jacket or the finalist jacket, so my friends ultimately motivate me.”

Although friendly ribbing provides plenty of incentive to do well, Severyn is also self-motivated.

“I have something to prove to myself, so I’m going to try and be the best fighter I can be, and hopefully win the championship this year,” Severyn said.

Severyn also credits the boxing community at O’Neill Hall with aiding his success.

“Mike Doran, Bobby Powers, Kevin Crepeau — those are all O’Neill guys, so it’s really easy to stay motivated with people in your dorms coming in to make sure you’re going to practices,” Severyn said.

The 170-pound final will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of Severyn’s career, but the senior does not expect to be overwhelmed by the moment.

“A lot of other people get hyped up and listen to pump-up music, but I try and stay as calm as possible,” Severyn said. “It’s hard with the adrenaline rushing through, but I’m usually pretty relaxed. I usually start off the first round a little slow, partially because I’m relaxed, but that’s just how I’m used to doing everything. That’s how I play rugby, and that’s how I do boxing.”

Severyn will face Greg Bennett — who eliminated him from competition last year — in the championship bout Friday. Severyn has already made sure that his friends can no longer tease him for lacking a finalist jacket; if he can reverse the outcome of last year’s semifinal bout, he will have a championship to go along with it.