84th Bengal Bouts kick off this week
Greg Hadley | Sunday, February 16, 2014
Months of intense training and years of tradition will collide Monday at the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center Fieldhouse in the preliminary rounds of the 84th installment of Bengal Bouts.
Each fall, hundreds of men begin training for the annual boxing tournament, which raises funds for the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. This year, 135 boxers are set to compete in the tourney, which begins Monday.
In order to compete, each boxer begins training in the early fall, must spar at least three times before fight night and raise $500 for the Missions in Bangladesh. Every year, several senior fighters travel to Bangladesh on a service trip to teach English. Last year, the fights raised more than $100,000.
The fights themselves are a unique tradition of camaraderie and competition, Bengal Bouts president and captain Daniel Yi said. In training, conditioning is a constant point of emphasis for all fighters.
“Conditioning is pretty constant throughout the year,” Yi said. “We do mostly body-weight workouts. That includes a lot of pushups, squats and other things like that.”
Yi is the defending heavyweight champion and has boxed throughout his college career, but most boxers come into the program with no prior fighting experience. For these younger and more inexperienced boxers, coaches spend most of their time focusing on the basics, Yi said.
“We’re all working towards a common goal, and that’s to learn boxing,” Yi said. “We go over and over the basics. No one in this program has worked too hard on maintaining the basics of boxing. When you’re in the ring and it’s the third round and you’re tired, it’s the basics that save you.”
Those basics are tested early and often in the ring. The club has tried to emphasize the importance of sparring and gaining fight experience.
“Over the past few years … the captains, especially this year, have been trying to really send out the message to the novices and also to the returning guys, that the best way to get better at boxing is to actually box,” Yi said. “We’ve also tried to make a much more controlled environment for sparring. We’ve been emphasizing safety a lot.
“Overall, most of the novices have sparred far more than I did when I was starting out, and I think a lot of that comes back to the coaches and the captains really emphasizing the importance and the tone of sparring.”
The program would not be the success that it has become without the dedication and commitment of its coaches, most of whom are volunteers, Yi said. Several coaches are Bengal Bouts veterans who have championships to their name.
“We have some great coaches that have been here a long time,” Yi said. “Nate Walker works for RecSports and has been here for four or five years. In that time, his role has grown from beyond an administrator to more of a coach. He even hops into the ring and spars sometimes with the younger guys. I couldn’t even tell you how long Fr. Brian Daley has been with the club, but he’s a great coach who works personally with a lot of the guys.
“None of what we do would be possible without all of our coaches.”
The finals take place in Purcell Pavilion, and ESPN3 will televise the championship round online, as the network did last year.
The Bouts begin tonight at the JACC Fieldhouse, continuing through the quarterfinals Thursday and the semifinals Feb. 25, before concluding with the finals March 2 in Purcell Pavilion.