Chris Dethlefs finds meaning through Bengladesh trip
Madison Riehle | Friday, March 2, 2018
“‘First with the head, and then with the heart,’” senior captain Chris Dethlefs said, quoting the book “The Power of One.” “That idea of having a composed mental approach, a plan in your mind coming into your fight and then letting the heart take over in that third round.”
That’s the mentality Dethlefs has going into his final Bengal Bouts fight — the fight he has worked towards over the past four years.
“The last two years, I was in the semifinals, and I finally made it to the finals this year,” Dethlefs said. “I tried to have a little more fun with it this year, take it a little less seriously, focus a little less on myself. I think that helped me improve individually as a boxer and just enjoy it more. I made strides in my own style and development as a boxer, and so it really came together for me this year.”
In his second year as captain, Dethlefs started preparing for this year’s Bouts over the summer, joining a gym in Omaha near his hometown of La Vista, Nebraska.
“I got some good experience there with a coach who worked with me [to] help develop my style a little more,” Dethlefs said, “That has been an important piece — getting comfortable with inside fighting and kind of just being a bully in the ring. I’m much more relaxed, I can just stay on guys, and all my hours of back work are finally paying off, and I’ve been able to kind of just fight more instinctively in there when I get inside.”
A math and pre-med double major hailing from Sorin Hall, Dethlefs knew about Bengal Bouts before coming to Notre Dame.
“I know someone from back home who is a year below me whose brother had done it when he was here,” Dethlefs said. “I love hard work and the training that goes into this and the background. I was excited about that aspect of it: learning a new sport, training hard.”
Dethlefs also attributed his love of boxing and Bengal Bouts to the program’s relationship with the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.
“The fact that I could tie the sport to a real mission and cause that empowers other people made it really special,” Dethlefs said. “I just thought that was the coolest club I could find, and so I just dove in and went all in freshman year.”
After freshman year, Dethlefs traveled to Bangladesh along with another Bengal Bouts boxer to visit the missions. He attributes his inspiration in practice and in the ring to the people in Bangladesh, who struck him with their kindness, work and the fights they face.
“I have been really devoted ever since I went to Bangladesh and saw what we do over there. There are a lot of beautiful people there — so gracious and humble and receptive to us,” Dethlefs said. “We worked with Holy Cross priests, traveling to different communities, going to masses and speaking about our program and what we are doing for them. It was an amazing, unforgettable experience. Totally different linguistic and cultural landscape that you have to dive into, a lot of things to get used to.”
As far as his last fight, Dethlefs said it’s all about the mentality.
“I’ve been coming into my bouts just really relaxed and trying to have fun and have that mental plan in place; not blowing everything in the first 30 seconds, but just let it build,” Dethlefs said. “These last four years have been an amazing experience. It is definitely one of the most important things I’ve done here at Notre Dame.”