From sidelines to victory, Mike Flanigan leaves mark
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, February 27, 2015
As the final bell rang, senior captain Mike Flanigan stood tall in the center of the ring with his gloved hands raised high, victorious in the quarterfinals matchup.
Three years ago Flanigan had to back out of participating in the Bengal Bouts tournament for personal issues, but in his final tournament he reached the semifinals for the second straight year.
“I went and saw the tournament to watch the finals, and it was like ‘Wow! Man, I definitely have to be a part of that,’” Flanigan said. “Going to the tournament, you see the epitome of the entire event, which is really cool.”
The Rhode Island native vowed to make his debut in the ring the following year, and once the training started for his first official season Flanigan really got a sense of what he was getting himself into by observing the veterans around him.
“The team and group of captains were unreal,” Flanigan said. “There were a whole group of guys that were top-notch, Notre Dame role models as far as I’m concerned. They were all hard working, super focused on the mission of Bengal Bouts and a bunch of them went to Bangladesh.”
Following the examples set by the veterans, Flanigan overcame the mental and physical challenges that accompanied being pushed past his limitations during the intense training sessions leading up to the tournament. While he said he wasn’t really aiming to win the title as a first-year fighter, he strived to get the most out of the experience in every other way possible.
“The captains led well with teaching technique and pushing your physique,” Flanigan said. “I really didn’t have goals set my first year, but once I got into it all of the sudden I was in phenomenal shape, I learned the technique really well and really learned what it meant to be a boxer. Once I got into my junior year, goals changed. It was more about what I needed to do to win and get to the next level of boxing where winning championships was possible. That’s when you start showing up to practice 45 minutes early and half an hour late.”
Last year, Flanigan fell short of reaching the finals in the 173-pound division after losing to junior Zach Flint by unanimous decision in the semifinals.
In the preliminaries this year, the St. Edward’s resident defeated Chris Powers by unanimous decision. In the quarterfinals, Flanigan faced challenger Paddy Lawler, but he was able to get past the freshman with a split-decision victory before losing Tuesday night to third-year law student Gage O’Connell. From putting on boxing gloves for the first time his sophomore year to reaching the semifinals this year, Flanigan said he is grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of Bengal Bouts as a senior captain.
“It’s been really fun being on the other side of things as a captain,” Flanigan said. “Between the other captains, the managers and coaches that have been doing this for years, it’s really a great experience to be a part of the meetings that try to figure out how to weed some of these guys out, and in the end we finish as pretty decent amateur boxers when the tournament rolls around.”
Besides the boxing aspect of the club, Flanigan also said it’s been more of a teaching experience, since he’s had to talk about the mission behind Bengal Bouts in the establishment of schools in Bangladesh.
“There are things beyond weightlifting and boxing when you’re really invested in Bengal Bouts,” Flanigan said. “As a captain, we need to make sure we hit all of our fundraising goals and teach the new boxers the art of boxing.”
Flanigan has gone through three years of Bengal Bouts, and as his final season comes to a wrap he hopes to have made his mark on the program’s 85th year.
“I hope the guys from here on out remember that this isn’t about showing up and dominating your opponents,” Flanigan said. “I hope they take away the example of being able to hang out with a bunch of guys that you get to work really hard with and really get a sense of what it means to be a part of a team for such a great cause.”