Tarnishing the Dome and Bengal Bouts
Letter to the Editor
"Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished." — Dominic "Nappy" Napolitano
This is the motto of the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts, a statement that embodies all that the boxers stand for and carries deep sentiment in all of those who realize that the fights are for charity. It is one of the most recognized and revered quotes on this campus.
On this year's poster, perhaps it should be followed by an asterisk.
The 2000 Bengal Bouts will soon be upon us. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Morrissey Manor, where it seems that about half of the dorm is boxing this year. But ask someone from Morrissey about Bengal Bouts and you won't hear about the number of men fighting. Instead, you will hear about the one man who is not.
Edward Hernandez III will not be competing in the Bengal Bouts this year for one reason: He is not allowed to participate. The powers-that-be in the Bengal Bouts organization have banned him from fighting in the 2000 Bouts because they are afraid he might hurt someone. They cite his extensive boxing experience as an unfair advantage over those who he may face and beat in the ring. They feel he is too good to be fighting beginners and that some poor guy will get in the way of too many of his punches and get hurt. This is a poor argument. It is true that Edward was a U.S.A. Boxing Champion of Texas and continues to win other tournaments as he works to make a bid for the 2000 Olympic Games. He has trained for most of his life as a boxer and therefore has become a good one. He is easily the best boxer on this campus, maybe even the best one to ever attend Notre Dame. But this is no reason to keep him out of Bengal Bouts this year. He will not hurt someone because he is such a talented boxer. He could, no doubt.
But it is because he is such a talented boxer that he will not hurt anyone. He knows what he is doing in the ring, and he fights for points, not blood. It is this serious underestimation of Edward's character and sportsmanship by the Bengal Bouts organization that is preventing him from fighting this year.
Don't take these statements on faith alone. He fought and won in the 1999 Bengal Bouts and showed amazing restraint in each of his fights. There were no five-punch combinations thrown against overmatched rookie opponents. Nobody was knocked unconscious. There weren't even any broken noses. To say that Edward would hurt someone this year is to make the assumption that he will not fight the same as he did last year. Has he not proven himself in that regard?
Those who argue that Edward shouldn't fight because he would easily have a victory have a point: I'm confident he would win. However, though my fighting talent is minimal at best, I would get in the ring a dozen times before I would accept the fact that he could not fight. Why? Simple: Anybody who wins Bengal Bouts this year between the classes of 145 and 175 will know that their championship came with an asterisk, a condition — the condition that they won without having to face the best boxer. Personally, I would rather lose to Edward in the first round than to win the championship only because he was not there.
But not only does it deprive Edward of an opportunity to show his talent, but it also takes prestige away from the Bengal Bouts themselves. The loss of Edward is also a loss of excitement in the ring that could have been tapped for further ticket sales. The basis for the Bengal Bouts is charity, meaning that Edward's potential draw should be a godsend to the Bouts. who doesn't want to see a possible Olympian in the ring? Edward had the largest cheering section of any boxer last year and it would of only grown this year. Has this not ever been considered?
The Bengal Bouts is a program that, with it's long tradition and humanitarian mission, has become part of the definition of this University. The actions of the Bengal Bouts, whether good or bad, reflect on the Notre Dame itself. And it is a shame that such a reputation for excellence that both Bengal Bouts and the university have established will be tarnished by these poor assumptions. It is not shame, rather more of a crime. But the bigger crime is that Edward will not be able to defend his title this year.
Senior, Morrissey Manor
February 23, 2000
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, February 24, 2000