That weak bodies may be nourished’
Nicole McAlee | Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Guided by the motto “Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished,” Notre Dame boxers will lace up their gloves tonight for the preliminary rounds of the 83rd installment of the Bengal Bouts boxing tournament.
Famed Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne founded a boxing tournament at Notre Dame in 1920, but the tournament’s current purpose – to raise funds for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh – was solidified in 1931 by Bengal Bouts director Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano, who coined the “Strong bodies fight” motto.
Senior captain Jeffrey Ulrich said Bengal Bouts is instrumental in improving the lives of Bengalis served by the Holy Cross missions, which use tournament proceeds to build schools and clinics and empower people through education and poverty relief.
“Bengal Bouts is the main contributor in funding schools, medical facilities and students’ expenses in the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh,” Ulrich said. “The biggest impact we make is in giving people the opportunity to make their own path in the world, since most families are relegated to a limited number of social, professional and economic statuses.”
The club reinforced its relationship with Bangladesh in 2008 when five Notre Dame boxers and a camera crew traveled to the country to volunteer at the Holy Cross missions for the first time. Their experiences were captured in the documentary “Strong Bodies Fight,” directed by Notre Dame film professor William Donaruma.
This year, captains Daniel Yi, Pat Bishop and Danny Leicht, along with junior Ian Cronin, continued the tradition of serving in Bangladesh for the fifth year in a row.
Yi said he was able to experience the work of the Holy Cross missions throughout his summer in Bangladesh.
“I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of four boxers to go to Bangladesh, and I got to see firsthand the work that Bengal Bouts has helped accomplish,” he said.
Senior captain Ryan Alberdi said participating in Bengal Bouts has a deep impact on both the boxer and the Bengali people.
“Every day, Bengal Bouts is changing the lives of the boxers in the program and their Bengali friends on the other side of the world,” he said.
This year, 165 Notre Dame men will fight in the tournament after training intensively since the Monday after fall break, Alberdi said.
“It has been about four months of training,” he said. “Practices were for about two hours a day, five to six days a week. On a typical week, I would say that I put in around 15 hours of training through practices and on my own time.”
Aside from the opportunity to fight for a worthy cause, Alberdi, Yi and senior captain Alex Oloriz said staying in shape was a major motivation for joining Bengal Bouts.
“I got involved in Bengal Bouts because [in] freshman year, I was quickly losing my high school football physique,” Oloriz said.
For senior captain Jack Lally, his fourth and final Bengal Bouts could help him complete the “perfect quartet” by winning the tournament each of his four years at Notre Dame. Achieving this honor would earn him an honorary Notre Dame monogram.
Lally said the pressure to win for a fourth time motivates rather than intimidates him.
“I mean, there’s always pressure,” Lally said. “I’d rather be in this position than never having won a fight. … There’s pressure in anything, but I enjoy it.”
Ulrich said the club also hopes this year’s tournament raises at least as much money as last year’s event.
“Last year, we raised [more than] $200,000,” he said. “Beating that is [going to be] our greatest challenge.”
Preliminary bouts of the tournament begin tonight at 6 p.m. in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center field house.
Contact Nicole McAlee at [email protected]