Matthew Yoder finds unlikely connection to mission
Charlie Ortega Guifarro | Friday, March 2, 2018
Senior Matthew Yoder has been a member of Bengal Bouts since his freshman year. Having reached the final round twice, Yoder has gone 0-2 in his attempts at a title. This year, however, Yoder is more determined than ever to obtain the elusive championship he has desperately wanted since his first semester at Notre Dame. The goal for 2018 is clear.
“I want a championship,” he said.
Yoder said the highlight of his collegiate boxing career has been making it to the finals two years in a row. His inspirations to keep participating in Bengal Bouts — aside from trying to win the title — include ties to family, one of which was unexpected, and the desire to maintain a structured lifestyle.
“Freshman year, I went to activities night, and I had a cousin who had [boxed in Bengal Bouts] before,” Yoder said. “I just thought this was a great way to transition into a standard routine, practice — I was a varsity athlete for all four years in high school — so I wanted to continue with that structured routine of practices. Then, I learned about the mission and that just captured my attention as well. I later found out that my great uncle boxed, Uncle Paul, back in the ’40s, and that propelled me to continue boxing.”
With respect to the Holy Cross mission, Yoder has done most of his charity work through the club’s fundraising efforts. Despite never traveling to Bangladesh, he found satisfaction and surprise in a peculiar moment that he had in Italy.
“My involvement [in the Holy Cross mission] basically just stems from the fundraising that I’ve done, obviously, talking about it as well. Funny enough though, I did run in to someone who went to school there — a Bangladeshi,” Yoder said. “It was over in Rome — he was working in Rome — and we got to talking. He heard that I was clearly not a Roman accent, or Italian, and he’s like, ‘Where are you from?’ I said, ‘The United States.’ ‘Oh, I’m from Bangladesh,’ he said. I said, ‘Do you know anything about the Holy Cross mission?’ He said, ‘I went to a school that was founded by them.’ I said, ‘No way, I’ve been fighting for you since my freshman year.’ So it was really cool to have that connection.”
Yoder has taken his role of captain seriously. He said the role is not just about helping others improve but self-improvement as well, as one must set the example for others to follow.
“What I’ve had to do [as a captain] is go out of my comfort zone or go outside of my own sphere of influence, where I make myself the best boxer that I can,” Yoder said. “I had to then go and watch other people as they would spar, watch the people doing technique or push them during their workouts and say, ‘Hey, I know you’ve got more in you.’ Therefore, pushing myself, I want to be the best and so, I not only have to be my best but pushing others to reach that level. I can’t plateau because then people are going to catch up to me, and so you’re constantly evolving, adapting your style and helping out the next generation.”
Bearing the nickname “The Fightin’ Amish,” Yoder explained the history behind the name.
“My great to, probably the eighth power, grandfather was Amish in Indiana,” he said. “I think he went on Rumspringa and just decided, ‘Hey, electricity is pretty nice.’ So basically from there, we’ve been not-Amish ever since.”
The senior in O’Neill Hall is unsure about the future of his boxing career post-graduation, but he has not ruled out the possibility of fighting in boxing clubs.
“I’d like to join a boxing gym,” Yoder said. “Hopefully, I’ll be in a major city where they have some sort of a club I can join. I’m not quite sure if I’ll do something like Golden Gloves, but I’m not going to count it out.”