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Students raise money for Holy Cross missions through boxing

| Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In the coldest of South Bend winters, long past the close of football season, a similarly time-honored Notre Dame tradition and sporting event takes place — Bengal Bouts. These boxing matches, which raise funds for Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh, will begin with preliminary round fights Tuesday night in the Joyce Center.

Web_BengelBoutsZacharyLlorensZachary Llorens | The Observer

The bouts, which came into being as an outgrowth of football coach Knute Rockne’s desire to organize boxing matches at the University, began to raise funds for the people of Bangladesh in 1931 under the direction of coach Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano.

For many fighters, including junior Joey Quinones, a 2017 captain who was able to visit Bangladesh this summer through an International Summer Service Learning Project (ISSLP), this mission is one of the driving forces behind why they fight.

“I’d say the most rewarding part [of fighting is] getting able to see all the people that we were able to impact through these donations,” Quinones said. “There’s one parish, towards the north part of Bangladesh, right on the Indian border … half of the funds that were used to build it [came from Bengal Bouts]. A parish with a church, a boys and girls hostel, and school were made possible because of Bengal Bouts and its interaction with Holy Cross missions.”

Quinones’s previous experience in fighting helped to motivate him to participate in the Bouts and help the cause which the fights support.

“I had some … martial arts training back before high school and I thought it would translate pretty well just technique wise,” he said. “That’s what initially pushed me into it but now, three years in, the mission is what keeps me coming back.”

For another captain, junior Pat Gordon, previous fighting experience also motivated him to join Bengal Bouts.

“I actually started boxing before I came to Notre Dame,” Gordon said.  “I love boxing and it’s one of the reasons I came to Notre Dame. It’s one of the few schools that has a boxing program. So as soon I got here, I couldn’t wait to get there and go to my first practice.”

In addition to helping with missions in Bangladesh, Gordon said one of the most rewarding aspects of participating in Bengal Bouts was being able to help younger fighters grow.

“They’re nervous about [fighting], they’re nervous about getting hit in the face — it’s totally normal,” he said. “Slowly,you show them how to throw a jab, throw a hook — you show them how to work their feet and be on defense and slowly ,they progress and you work with them in day in and day out … That’s a super rewarding feeling, seeing not only your hard work pay off, but the hard work of someone else.”

The ability of captains to help less experienced fighters, the atmosphere that it creates and the element of service is what motivates sophomore Montana Giordano to keep coming back to the practices.

“I really enjoy the community feel of Bengal Bouts,” Giordano said. “I chose to do it because I really enjoy the mission of helping the people of Bangladesh.”

Giordano said the mission helps him come back, despite the grueling workouts.

“[Training] comprises of five or six days a week of intense workouts, a lot of interval training and a technique session for about an hour after every workout,” he said.

Giordano expressed optimism that this year’s fights would grow in audience and in donations.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how big our turnout is going to be,” he said. “We’ve been getting on the ticket sales and the fundraising and really promoting Bengal Bouts. So I think we’ll have a bigger turnout than last year.”

Fights will begin Tuesday in the Joyce Center. Tickets can be purchased both from boxers in advance and at the door.

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About Lucas Masin-Moyer

Lucas Masin-Moyer is a senior at Notre Dame majoring in Political Science and American Studies. He serves as Assistant Managing Editor, lived in Morrissey Manor and hails from Telford, Pennsylvania.

Contact Lucas