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Boxers learn sport, raise money for charity

Isaac Lorton | Monday, November 5, 2012

The large mob of women often seen running around campus will finally step in the ring tonight, as the 10th annual Baraka Bouts will begin in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.

The bouts will feature the 109 fighters, ranging from an amateur to veteran skill level, who have gone through months of intense training. Senior co-president Kat Leach said the fight night is a culmination of numerous hours of practice and sparring in order to raise money for the Holy Cross mission in Uganda to help improve education in secondary schools.

“Most often people come in with no experience and you learn from the bottom up and from your peers,” Leach said. “The combination of learning and teaching makes for a close knit group. Then there is the service aspect. You are not training and then fighting for yourself but to help others.”

Senior captain Grace Spaulding said Baraka Bouts is much more than the training and fight nights.

“The Baraka Bouts stands for the empowerment of people who can’t,” Spaulding said. “It helps educate people in Uganda, who do not have the means to do so. I also appreciate what it has done for women on campus. [Baraka Bouts] empowers women here at Notre Dame.”  

Leach said this months-long experience of sacrifice produces an incredible experience for the fighters and the fans.

“All of the girls who participate are phenomenal,” Leach said. “The girls make the boxing so much fun and everyone has a blast. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever been a part of. The fans need to realize that many of the fighters come in having little or no experience and know nothing about boxing. At the fights we see real skill in boxing and technique and showcase what they learn.”   

Spaulding said the captains have aimed to teach the girls in all aspects of boxing.

“We want to make sure they understand the fundamentals because it is a pretty technical sport,” Spaulding said. “We also want to build up [the fighters] confidence and believe in their ability when they go out there [Monday].”

The captains, under the leadership of Leach and other co-president senior Courtney Currier, have gone to great lengths to pair fighters in bouts that will make the fights competitive and entertaining, Spaulding said. The fighters are paired by ability and size.

“We spend a lot of time partnering the girls in pairings,” Spaulding said. “We want to make sure the fights are well matched. It makes for a unique night.”

Leach said the production of Baraka Bouts is a large group effort.

“Training and putting on Baraka Bouts comes from having great co-captains and a legacy of the fights,” Leach said. “We have amazing coaches and [captains] sacrifice their training time for others since it is a cause we are really passionate about.”

The fighters of the boxing club also come up with interesting and humorous names, which entertains the fans and gives fight night a good atmosphere, Leach said.

“Each and every year I’m delighted and surprised at how clever our fighters can be,” Leach said. “It’s usually an individual thing, but people take input from their fellow fighters. We are not going out for golden gloves, but we are there to have a really good time. [Nicknames] have a long history in the program. If a fighter doesn’t choose a name by a certain time, the captains have a little fun and get to choose a name so the fighters usually get the [their nicknames] in on time.”

Spaulding said the fans have a huge impact on the excitement of the bouts.

“Cheering us on and supporting us really makes the event energetic and brings awareness to the cause,” Spaulding said. “We enjoy fighting in front of our friends and family and we are breaking records of how much money we are raising – the fans are a large part of it.”

Overall, Leach said the bouts are a Notre Dame tradition.

“Baraka Bouts has such a storied history,” Leach said. “It is a unique legacy here. It’s been a ten-year athletic endeavor and it’s an amazing club that you won’t see anywhere else.”

Baraka Bouts gets under way with the first round of fights Monday at 6 p.m. in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.


Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]