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Baraka Bouts raise money for Holy Cross missions

| Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More than 80 Notre Dame women will face off under the lights in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center (JACC) for the 12th annual Baraka Bouts tonight.

Baraka Bouts takes its name from the Swahili word for “blessing,” because funds raised through the tournament support the Holy Cross missions in Uganda. According to women’s boxing team captain Colby Hoyer, last year’s tournament raised around $25,000.

In addition to selling tickets, Hoyer said the team also fundraises through the “Power 24 Hour,” ad sales for the tournament’s program and team merchandise.

“The ‘Power 24 Hour’ is our main fundraiser, which is when we work out in front of South Dining Hall,” Hoyer said “We do that, and this year we had a really rainy day — rainy and cold — so we didn’t get as many donations as we had in years past, but it was still really fun and all the girls came out.”

Team captain Nikki Murgas said boxers must attend at least four of the eight practices each week since September to qualify to compete. She said the first week of training is dedicated solely to first-year boxers.

“We have a week that’s just for novices and we do beginning workouts, and we start by teaching them basic punches and combos,” Murgas said. “… Everyone in the club is an amateur boxer, so we start at the beginning.”

Second-year boxer sophomore Mercedes de la Rosa, whose nickname for the bouts will be Mercedes “Merciless” de la Rosa, said the practices focused on strength and skill equally.

“As far as actual practice, it’s split half and half,” de la Rosa said. “One of the halves you do will be workout and one will be technique. What we do for workout varies, but you can always count on about 100 burpees, lots of core, lots of legs.”

De la Rosa said although she “has literally put blood, sweat and tears” into the workouts, personal growth trumps competition in terms of physical ability.

“If you can’t do a plank for 50 seconds at the beginning of the year, they won’t kick you out,” de la Rosa said. “If you can’t do a plank for 50 seconds at the end of the year, they won’t kick you out. It’s all about personal growth and where you’re at, and doing the best that you can personally do.”

Hoyer said her responsibilities as captain include coaching girls during spars and helping them to hone in on what they need to improve in terms of their technique, but everything changes during the bouts.

“It’s incredible to me to see just a completely different person on fight night than I’ve been cornering on spars the whole season,” Hoyer said. “Your friends are there, and you’re under the lights, and there’s the pressure. … I’m excited to see how the girls respond to that and the improvements they’ve made.”

Murgas said she is excited to see the novice boxers demonstrate what they have learned thus far.

“I know a lot of them are nervous, but I think they know a lot more than they think they do,” Murgas said. “… I am just so excited to see them have that moment and be able to realize that they have come so far since our first practice. I can’t wait to see everyone’s efforts come to fruition.”

De la Rosa, who endured the training but did not box in the tournament last year, said she enjoys boxing because of how it makes her feel.

“Honestly, my favorite part is putting on wraps and putting in the mouth guard,” de la Rosa said. “When you put them on you just feel like such a pro. You feel like a cool kid.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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