The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



President Erin Fennessy ready for first tournament in two years

| Monday, November 8, 2021

As the president of the Baraka Bouts club, senior Erin Fennessy has been working relentlessly to put on the first Baraka Bouts tournament in two years.

Fennessy is a biochemistry and French major with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she lives off-campus now, she used to reside in Walsh Hall. This is Fennessy’s fourth year as a part of the Baraka Bouts.

Fennessy will box with the nickname “Waterworks” this year, and she explained how she came up with that nickname.

“I am notorious for crying in any emotional situation: happy, sad, angry, etc,” Fennessy said.

Although Fennessy is president of Baraka Bouts this year, she gained leadership experience last year through her role as a junior captain.

Fennessy described some of the important roles that she had last year without being able to plan a tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I was a junior, my technical roles were I helped on two different aspects of planning, which was our apparel design and on our social media,” Fennessy said. “While also just all the captains help facilitate practice, the big amount of work comes from setting up a tournament, and running the tournament and organizing everything for that. And we obviously did not have that main event last year.”

Fennessy is ecstatic for the tournament to resume this year, but she admitted that it has been challenging from the moment they started planning the tournament in the summer.

“We planned like we were going to have a tournament, but we were still kind of on that edge of, we might get told that it can’t happen,” Fennessy said. “Because I didn’t help put together last year’s tournament because I didn’t have one. It’s been a lot of just making it up as we go. Honestly, the past couple of president and vice president teams have been very helpful and available to help troubleshoot and see what they can remember from our sophomore year.”

Fennessy is excited to be back in the ring for the first time in two years because she knows she has improved significantly since her sophomore year.

“Coming out of my sophomore year, I knew I was good and I was a really strong boxer,” Fennessy said. “I knew I had a year to improve and then come out on top the next time, so now I have had two years of waiting for that. I can’t let myself get past the excitement of getting back in there. I am not even going to think about the outcome,” Fennessy said.

The main purpose of the tournament is to support the mission of the club, which raises money for two Holy Cross secondary schools in Uganda. Each year the mission supports a specific need for the schools, and this year’s initiative is to build on-campus housing for faculty and staff.

Fennessy explained why this is really important for the Holy Cross Lake View Secondary School.

“They often hire teachers and staff but they often don’t stay on very long because they don’t have a place to house them on campus,” Fennessy said.

Fennessy has stressed to herself and her fellow boxers that the outcome of the tournament itself doesn’t matter in comparison to the mission statement.

“It doesn’t matter if you win or if you lose,” Fennessy said. “It does matter to some people, but on the whole, the work that we’ve been doing and the money we’ve been fundraising is more important. You’re not training for the Baraka Bouts to say that I won a bout or I won my bracket. It’s about putting on a great tournament with quality boxing that people want to come to, and they want to buy tickets for all for the sake of fundraising for the missions.”

Fennessy has emphasized that winning isn’t everything to the younger boxers in the club.

“We’re not here to tell you that you have the most value to the club if you are the best boxer and you come out and win your bout,” Fennessy said. “It’s about the fact that you put in the time and effort and you are a quality boxer who is going to put on a heck of a show. That’s what it is all about.”

Fennessy is excited to see how the sophomore boxers in the club will perform in their first tournament after training with the team all of last season.

“We have a pretty significant number of girls who came back after COVID that had trained before but never gotten in the ring before, and their quality of boxing is very high. I’m really excited those girls have a chance to get in the ring and finally see what it’s all about since they’ve been hearing us talk about it for a year,” Fennessy said.

Fennessy shared that one of her favorite memories from her time in Baraka Bouts was when she was a freshman and had her second cousin, who was a senior at the time, in her corner during her first-ever bout.

“That was one example of many in our club of that mentorship from upperclassmen to underclassmen and passing that down,” Fennessy said. “This happened to be with someone who I am blood-related to but now [am] very good friends with.”

Fennessy’s favorite part of being president this year has been the connection that she has with the other members of the club.

“I just love engaging with members of the club,” Fennessy said. “I just love that this community, even though it is a very large community of people, has shrunk to the point that there are for sure boxers who act like parents to younger boxers.”

Fennessy has made it her goal to make sure that all boxers feel they are a big part of Baraka Bouts.

“The job is making sure that all boxers feel that they have a place and can empathize with others,” Fennessy said.

Tags: ,

About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

Contact Nate