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National football champion Arnold comes to Bouts

Brian Hartnett | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As Bengal Bouts is a taxing competition of physical endurance, it comes as no surprise that many competitors are impressive athletes who can list numerous athletic achievements.

Third-year law student Nate Arnold, however, boasts one unusual accomplishment — he was a member of an NCAA national championship football team.

The Edmonds, Wash. native attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. for his undergraduate studies. While at Linfield, Arnold spent four years on the football team as a defensive tackle, helping the team win the NCAA Division III national championship his freshman year. 

Arnold said while the skills needed for football don’t necessarily translate to boxing, his experience as a football player instilled in him a strong work ethic — one he now applies to his boxing career.

“Just as you have to put a lot of time and dedication into football, you have to devote a lot of time to boxing,” Arnold said. “I’d say that the dedication required for boxing is even greater, since you need to train somewhere around 10,000 minutes just to be prepared to fight one minute of a boxing match.”

Arnold continues to pay homage to his alma mater with his unique nickname — “Catdome.”

“‘Catdome’ is a saying used by my undergrad football team, similar to how “Roll Tide” is used by Alabama,” Arnold said. “It’s a thing that Linfield alumni say to each other, and it embodies the Linfield football spirit.”

After Arnold began law school at Notre Dame, he looked for some sort of athletic activity to fill the void left by football. After devoting his first year of law school to adjusting to the increased workload and more strenuous academics, he decided to take the advice of several of his fellow law students who were involved in Bengal Bouts and started competing in the program last year.

Arnold concluded his first year of competition in Bengal Bouts last season with a strong second-place showing in the heavyweight division, falling in the finals to then-senior Kevin Crepeau. Despite losing his final bout, Arnold said that he was pleased with the results of his first experience with boxing.

“Going into last year, I hadn’t done an individual sports since high school wrestling, and I had no boxing skills, so I didn’t really have high expectations at all,” Arnold said. “I would have liked to have won all my matches, but I exceeded my own expectations at least.”

With one Bengal Bouts tournament under his belt, Arnold said he spent much of the last year focusing on boxing-specific training. His daily training regimen includes a short run in the morning, followed by a session in the Pit in which he practices on the heavy bag or uses focus mitts. Afterward, he usually spars with other boxers and then caps his evening with another short run or a swim.

Training is difficult enough for any Bengal Bouts athlete, but Arnold said heavyweights must observe different precautions in their training due to their unique style of fighting.

“For heavyweights, the thing that makes you different from other fighters is that you have to be a little more cautious and defensive, since one big punch from another heavyweight boxer can end a fight pretty quickly,” Arnold said.

These precautions, however, are not the only caveat in Arnold’s training regimen. Arnold also faces the obstacle of balancing his Bengal Bouts training with the intense workload and pressures of his final year of law school. He said these two commitments have forced him to be incredibly efficient at managing his time.

“I think that what really gets sacrificed is my social life, since there’s so many responsibilities I need to meet,” Arnold said. “I just have to manage my day down to the hour to make sure I’m getting all my work done and getting all the training hours I need.”

Fortunately for Arnold, his dedication to both facets has yielded great benefits, as he will be working in commercial litigation at a Seattle law firm after graduating from Notre Dame.

He hopes this same dedication will yield similar results in his athletic career over the next few weeks, as he seeks to claim the Bengal Bouts heavyweight title this year.

Arnold has gotten off to a good start in this year’s Bengal Bouts, defeating sophomore Rob McKenna in his quarterfinal bout and law student John Rompf in the semifinals. He was uncharacteristically quiet when asked about his expectations, but revealed his rather simple strategy.

“My strategy is just to stick to my training,” Arnold said. “We have good coaches here at Bengal Bouts that teach us a lot, so I plan to just stick to what I know and keep going for the victory.”

In the end, though, Arnold said his Bengal Bouts experience would not be defined by how many victories he earned, but by the lifelong friendships he will take away from the program.

“I think that just bonding with the other captains has been my favorite memory,” Arnold said. “I’ve developed some friendships that I think will be life-long through boxing and, best of all, I’ve done it all for a good cause.”


Contact Brian Hartnett at [email protected]