Bouts offer fighters chance to compete, support cause
By ANDREW SOUKUP
Brian Hobbins mused over what the Bengal Bouts means to him for about a half-second before giving his reply.
"It's the best thing I've ever done in my life," the senior co-captain said. "It's defined everything about what I've done at Notre Dame."
And if you ask just about anyone else on the boxing club, they would agree with Hobbins.
When the 71st annual Bengal Bouts begins today, it's more than just another annual boxing competition. It's a chance to raise money for an important cause.
Since Dominic "Nappy" Napolitano took over the boxing program 1932, the Bengal Bouts have been held every year to raise money for the Holy Cross missions in Bangledesh. Last year, Bengal Bouts raised some $70,000 breaking their old record by nearly $21,000. This year, the captains of the boxing club set a higher goal.
"We're hoping to raise $71,000 and one cent," Hobbins said.
Hobbins realizes this is a rather lofty goal and said he realistically expects somewhere around $50,000.
But this isn't just a casual tournament thrown together by Don King to raise a buck. This is real, Olympic-style boxing.
The boxing club began their most intense training right after winter break ended. They practiced for about three hours a day, six days a week.
According to Hobbins, a typical practice begins with 30 minutes of concentrated calisthenics, a combination of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and jump rope. Then, the boxers spend some time working on boxing fundamentals before actually getting in the ring and sparring.
All of the practices are led by the captains who, as Hobbins says, "do all the stuff."
The captains, seniors Hobbins, Josh Thompson, Dennis Abdelnour, Peter Ryan and juniors Rob Joyce, Mark Criniti and Matt Fumagalli, handle everything from coordinating practices to managing logistical issues.
"It's a paper tornado," Hobbins says about the boxing office.
But the captains are more than simple coaches or organizers. They help the younger boxers, and not just in the boxing ring.
"There's things outside of just the team, and someone who might be scared might see us for advice," Hobbins says. "They just look at you as someone who's been there."
It is this attitude that exemplifies the spirit of Bengal Bouts. When Napolitano coined the slogan, "Strong bodies fight that weak bodies can be nourished," he had no idea that it would survive seven decades and become one of the most identifiable icon with the charity boxing tournament. It is the selflessness of the boxers that keeps the spirit of the Bengal Bouts thriving," said Hobbins.
"God gave you every advantage, and we have so much," he said. "We have to give ourselves up to give help to others."
The Bengal Bouts begin today at 7:30 in the Joyce Center with preliminary bouts. The action continues on Feb. 26 and 28, with the tournament culminating in the March 2 finals.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, February 22, 2001