The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Bengal Bouts: Wallace finds new competitive thrill in boxing club

Megan Golden | Friday, March 4, 2011

Since he was a little kid, senior captain Tim Wallace’s competitive spirit and outstanding work ethic have driven him toward success.

Growing up with two older brothers and an older sister, Wallace was constantly competing with his siblings, even in sports that they had to create.

“We created ‘Ball Tag.’ We have a full-sized basement, a basement perfect for any kids because it can just be destroyed. We had a lot of Nerf balls and stuff, and you could hide around the obstacles. We would just pick up balls and wing them at each other as hard as we could,” Wallace said. “Just the basketball games in front of the house and pretty much everything was a competition for us.”

Wallace said that, upon coming to Notre Dame, boxing took the place of his high school sports, as he played four years of basketball and tennis.

“In high school I was always really sports-related. That’s kind of what boxing filled in. That competitive edge that I had in high school that I didn’t really find until last year,” Wallace said. “Obviously those aren’t really physical sports, but I learned to be physical.”

Wallace was encouraged by a friend to begin boxing during the fall semester of his junior year in Australia.

“What got me into it was I studied abroad first semester last year. I studied abroad with [senior] Bobby [Powers], and he needed someone to work with, so he got me into it,” Wallace said.

Wallace said he and Powers worked hard to stay in shape and conditioned intensely in preparation for his first fight in Bengal Bouts.

“In Australia, it was just me and him. It was mostly just him giving me mitts, and then when I learned enough, I would return the favor,” Wallace said. “Boxing consists of three two-minute rounds, so six minutes total. Learning to condition yourself for that six minutes takes a work ethic, which I think I got from basketball.”

Wallace said he was originally motivated by his competitive nature, but once he was selected to be a captain, he discovered a different source of inspiration behind boxing.

“Purely boxing-wise, I got into it just because it’s a competitive sport that I learned to love to do,” Wallace said. “The inspiration as far as fundraising and raising money for Bangladesh kind of developed secondly. When I became a captain I realized how much it really makes a difference when the people come back after they travel for summer sessions over there for a couple of months, seeing footage from that and how much of a difference it made. That’s when I started seeing the second part of it, the real purpose behind why we box.”

Responding to the ups and downs of a fight requires confidence, and Wallace said mental toughness has proved to be an important part of his boxing career.

“You’ve got to have confidence in yourself. You’ve got to continually think you can win,” Wallace said. “You’re going to take hits, and you know it’s going to hurt, but you’ve got to understand that after you take that hit you’ve got to do whatever you can to hurt them back.”

Before entering every fight, Wallace has a ritual of reading the poem “The Stage,” which is posted on the door of the practice facility. He also makes sure to visit the Grotto prior to every bout he fights in.

“It helps to calm me down. It makes you feel like God’s on your side,” he said.

Throughout his boxing career, Wallace said he believed in the superstition that he would win as long as he did not cut his hair — and the one time he did, his fears were confirmed.

“I never cut my hair, but I had to cut my hair because I was going into the place where I’m going to work [after graduation],” Wallace said. “It was before [the semifinals], and I ended up losing, so maybe that was my deal.”

Wallace’s parents, who are Notre Dame alumni, have traveled from his home in Auburn, Ind., while his siblings have made the trip from Denver and Washington, D.C. to see him fight. Although his family is very supportive of his boxing career, Wallace said his mother has a hard time watching him fight.

“She’s been to one fight, and she wouldn’t watch. She said she stares up at the stands because she doesn’t like watching,” Wallace said. “She continually sends articles to me about the brain damage boxing does, and she’s convinced that I’m quitting and that since I lost, my boxing career’s done.”

After graduation Wallace will move to Pittsburgh, where he will be working at Bettis Labs. He said he hopes to continue his boxing career despite his mother’s entreaties.

“My first goal is just to find out a gym and get in the circle, and find out what kind of boxing clubs they have there. Then it’s just talking to people and maybe scheduling an amateur fight,” Wallace said. “I definitely do want to continue it, if for nothing else, definitely for the conditioning because the conditioning is a lot of fun and a great way to stay in shape.”