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Lally looks to take home third consecutive championship

Brendan Bell | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Junior captain Jack Lally returned from studying in London last semester with a greater sense of focus, as well as a different perspective on boxing thanks to his new role as a leader.

“Coming back, everyone else was already in full stride,” Lally said. “It was a matter of getting used to how things work. All of a sudden I come back from being abroad and have different position as a captain.”

Lally, a resident of Keough Hall from Saint Louis, Mo., says that his past experience has made the adjustment back to Bengal Bouts in the spring semester easier.

“I was at first nervous about this year, being away for so long and coming back,” Lally said. “But it was also nice coming in and knowing what I am capable of, knowing the sport and having two years of experience.”

That experience has helped Lally continue to win this year, defeating senior James Doan in the quarterfinals and junior Joe Decker in the semifinals of the 133 lbs. division. Though he has met great success in the ring over his three years in Bengal Bouts, Lally said he did not initially have a great interest in the sport of boxing.

“It seemed like it was just yesterday I was learning the sport, and there was a time I contemplated quitting boxing freshman year,” Lally said. “Boxing is one of the most difficult sports to learn because it is such a great mix of attributes.

“It is unbelievable how much goes into being a good boxer. It is tough to develop those skills as a novice, and it just takes time. There are so many ways you can improve, though.”

A part of his reason for continuing to fight, Lally said, was the encouragement from captains during his freshman year.

“I looked up to those senior and junior captains and talked to them about it and they said just keep coming in, shadow boxing, getting in the ring and eventually the skills start compounding and building up,” he said.

Lally humbly admitted his success during his novice year, winning the 124-pound catch-weight division. In his sophomore year, he moved up to the 134-pound division and won his weight class once again.

“Sophomore year was a 100 percent commitment to make myself as good as I could get,” Lally said. “In boxing, you really have to focus a lot on every single aspect. It isn’t a sport where you can go from 4:30 to 6 and then do whatever else you want the rest of the day — it is a lifestyle.”

When Lally came to Notre Dame, he was not familiar with boxing, but he said his past athletic experiences helped speed up his development.

“In high school I was a big-time soccer player and that was my passion, I also picked up hockey goalie and ran track toward the end of my high school career,” Lally said. “I ran the 400-meter and 800-meter, which is convenient because it is one to two minutes of endurance training, much like boxing.”

His personality fit well with the sport, too.

“I am a competitive individual so when I really just wanted to try something new, I heard it was fun and it would keep me in shape,” Lally said. “It is much easier to push yourself physically when there is a competition involved.”

While Lally has been successful in the ring, he realizes his role as a captain goes beyond the scorecard decision at the end of the day. As a captain, he said he sees the true value in being a Notre Dame boxer.

“With that experience and the role as a captain comes responsibility,” Lally said. “I had never done an individual sport before boxing, but at the same time there is a very strong team element to this program. I’m training for bigger things.”

Lally said being a captain this year helped him realize the club’s “greater capacity for good.”

“At first, it’s about the boxing and staying in shape and the pushups and it’s about you,” he said. “This boxing club, though, is unlike any other club in the country because of the teamwork we promote and the fundraising mission of our program.

“Those two aspects came to the forefront and I realized that I’m not boxing for me, I’m boxing to set an example, help develop those skills in others and get people excited about the sport of boxing in the same way those captains before me did.”

Lally hopes to apply the values of Bengal Bouts in his career, as he is striving to become a doctor. He plans to apply to medical schools this spring and will be taking the MCAT in April.

In the same way Lally looked up to the captains in the boxing ring during his freshman year, he said he has a role model for his professional career. Dr. Tom Dooley went to the same high school as Lally before going to Notre Dame, and then became a doctor who worked in the jungles of Laos and served those who could not afford basic health care.

“He dedicated himself to the health and well-being of others and I hope I can do something similar to that in my career,” Lally said.

Thinking big picture, Lally recognizes how special the opportunity to participate in Bengal Bouts has been.

“Boxing at Notre Dame has been such a blessing. It has enabled me to befriend and enjoy the company of some of the best people I know,” Lally said. “Boxing at Notre Dame calls for people to commit to something greater than themselves.

“Being a captain is an honor, but we all realize that being a captain is a position of service,” Lally said. “I went to a Jesuit high school and we always say that we strive to be men for others. Bengal Bouts has probably been the greatest highlight of my Notre Dame experience because it has enhanced my desire to be a man for others.”

Jack Lally will look to claim his third straight Bengal Bouts championship as he takes on junior Niels Seim in the 133 lbs. final Saturday night.


Contact Brendan Bell at [email protected]