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Mike Lee to fight in charity event

Tony Rivera | Friday, September 16, 2011

Ever since he graduated from Notre Dame in 2009, Mike Lee said he wanted to bring professional boxing to his alma mater.

Tonight at 9 p.m. in the Purcell Pavilion, students, faculty and visitors to campus will witness Lee, an undefeated light heavyweight professional boxer and three-time Bengal Bouts champion, fulfill his dreams.

Proceeds from Lee’s fight against professional boxer Jacob Stiers will go to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and the Robinson Community Learning Center.

“It’s been pretty surreal,” Lee said of bringing the event to campus.

After formulating his idea, Lee said he approached the Notre Dame Athletic Department and met with Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick.

Both sides were soon on the same page, he said.

“I thought it would be a much more difficult process,” Lee said. “After first contacting Jack Swarbrick, we had a great initial meeting where we outlined what we had in mind. We wanted to do this the Notre Dame way.”

It was Lee’s idea to make the night a charitable event, and he also picked which charities would receive the donations, Vice President for University Relations Lou Nanni said.

“[Lee] is a wonderful reflection of Notre Dame,” Nanni said. “He embodies everything we hope our graduates become.”

Nanni said Lee guarantees a six-figure sum will be split between both charity organizations.

The charities have been both excited and supportive of the event, Lee said.

“A lot of the kids [from the Robinson Community Learning Center] actually came out on Tuesday for the workout,” Lee said. “It was cool to see them with the ‘Team Lee’ T-shirts. It was a very special moment.”

Lee’s father and manager John Lee said his son has always shared a deep connection with Notre Dame.

“Mike said in his press conference that the greatest day of his life was when he got into Notre Dame,” Lee said. “Now he says that he expects to match that on Friday.”

Students are just as excited Lee is returning to campus. Sophomore Will Peterson, who won the 143 pounds Bengal Bouts championship last year, is eagerly anticipating the event.

“I heard rumors last year that this might happen,” sophomore Will Peterson said. “I’ve been waiting for this day to come ever since.”

Peterson, a resident of Lee’s former dorm – O’Neill Hall – said he has been selling tickets for the event since the start of the semester and is excited to watch a former Bengal Bout return to campus.

“Boxing is a completely unique experience in professional sports,” Peterson said. “The opportunity to see the first ever Bengal Bouts guy to go pro here at Notre Dame will be amazing.”

Lee said he hopes to stop by O’Neill Hall after the fight and walk through the doors of his old room.

“I have awesome memories from O’Neill,” Lee said. “I made friends I still talk to every single day. [O’Neill] has been huge help in promoting the fight on campus.”

After the fight, Lee said he wants to relax and enjoy the rest of his weekend on campus by cheering on the Irish.

“Because of training, this is the first time that I’ve been back during a home football weekend,” Lee said. “Although I was able to see Notre Dame play at Yankee Stadium, it feels like it’s been a very long time since I’ve been back.”

Students can watch Lee in the ring with announcer Regis Pilbin for a discounted price of $15. Ringside seats for the event are available for $150 and general admission tickets start at $30.