Ellixson ends career with chance for second title
Brian Plamondon | Thursday, February 27, 2014
Before arriving in 2011, third year law student Brian Ellixson talked to former Bengal Bouts champion and fellow Brown alum Will Burrows. Burrows told Ellixson that Bouts was a great program and a great way to stay involved in athletics, as Ellixson had been a two-year starter on the offensive line for the Brown football team.For Ellixson, that’s all it really took. Ellixson said he loved boxing from the start, although it certainly had a different feel.
“[Football] is always a team sport,” Ellixson said. “[With boxing], there’s no one else out there and it’s all on your shoulders. You have to put yourself in a certain mind frame to box.”
Boxing has certainly changed Ellixson’s body-type from his football days. After weighing 305 pounds while playing offensive line, he is boxing in the 202-lb weight class for Bouts.
“The conditioning is really different,” Ellixson said. “I don’t know how much of my football translates over to boxing, but obviously the willingness to put in the work does — getting in the mindset of getting better every day.”
Ellixson boxed during his first year at Notre Dame and lost in the semifinals before emerging victorious from the 205 pound weight class last year. This year, he has advanced to the finals with his last career fight coming this Sunday. Soon after his one loss three seasons ago, however, he realized boxing was an year-round sport. He spent that summer on campus doing research alongside a professor and trained in the Pit almost every day.
“It becomes an all-the-time thing,” Ellixson said. “As soon as I lost I began training for next year. Then I spent the fall working with the girls’ team. And it all culminates in the spring.”
For Ellixson, joining Bengal Bouts was originally an opportunity to stay in shape. It was not until later that he fully understood the club’s activism in Bangladesh. After his first semester, he started to realize what the program was all about.
“I was told, ‘There’s a boxing program, you should do it,’” Ellixson said. “But obviously there is no program like it. You go to it, work hard, but we’re all focused on the mission. A little bit of self-improvement, and that self-improvement is going towards improving people’s lives that you are never going to meet.
“It’s one of those things where you may not know it at the time, but when it clicks for you it becomes that much more important.”
More and more, Ellixson said realized what exactly he and all the other participants were fighting for, a realization that helped him stay committed to the program.
“It’s tough going to practice day-in and day-out,” Ellixson said. “Some days you’re not going to be up for it. But you go back to why you’re doing it and it makes things a lot easier.”
Ellixson said the uniqueness of the club and the trips to Bangladesh by some of the fighters served as inspiration for him.
“It’s an absolute unique club that you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Ellixson said. “You won’t find it anywhere else at Notre Dame and probably won’t find it anywhere else in the country. It’s a complete charity club.”
While Bengal Bouts’ relationship with the Holy Cross mission in Bangladesh is important, Ellixson also highlighted the importance of personal relationships he has formed with people during his three years doing Bouts. His roommate is also a captain, and he enjoys the time spent with an undergraduate population he typically doesn’t spend much time around.
“It’s a great little community we have here,” Ellixson said. “It’s a great program where you have guys always coming back. There are graduate students that can no longer box but want to coach because we’re one big family. It’s an individual sport but we’re still a team.”
As Ellixson has embraced his time participating in Bengal Bouts, his time is coming to a close. He has loved every minute of it, he said, but recognizes it is time to hang up the gloves.
“[Bouts] was one of the highlights of law school,” Ellixson said. “You typically don’t get that much excitement when you’re just studying every day. But I think it’s time I stopped getting hit in the head.”