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Bengal Bouts tradition continues at Notre Dame

NOW: Bengal Bouts tradition continues at Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When talking Notre Dame sports history, many understandably this of football. Some think of the Irish basketball team taking down number one teams at Purcell Pavilion.

But actually, one of the longest-running traditions at the university has been the Bengal Bouts, a boxing tournament that resumes for its 89th year this week.

“The boxing program was already existing then. It was started by Knute Rockne for football players," said boxing club vice president Michael Feijoo. "89 years ago, a legend named [Dominic "Nappy" Napolitano] wanted to start a tournament to raise money for the Holy Cross missions in Bengladesh. So ever since then, we’ve had this yearly tournament just for this cause.”

Beginning with the preliminary rounds, more than 100 students compete for a chance to join the ranks of champions past. But through that competition forms a bond.

“Everyone buys in and that’s the special part about Bengal Bouts, said president Ryan Richelsen. "Sure, you compete against somebody but at the end of the day, you might not make the finals but you’re excited and proud of them. You know exactly what they’ve been through and how hard they worked.”

Though the Notre Dame Boxing Club raises funds throughout the calendar year, these four rounds (until the finals on March 1) will be a big boost, especially with ticket sales and donations at the door.

“The crowd goes wild," Richelsen said. "Everyone’s there. Everyone’s cheering and chanting during the competition.”

And that's the entire point - not only embracing the commitment needed for boxing in the ring, but channeling that into a greater purpose outside the ropes.

“Every summer we send four or five guys to Bengladesh and over there they can see first-hand exactly where our money goes," said Feijoo. "It’s not something that gets lost – you can really see the impact and that deep history and tradition. That’s what we’re always talking about. There’s a lot more talk about the missions than about boxing.”

To help the cause, visit the following link: giving.nd.edu/bengal

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