The Notre Dame Men’s Boxing Club had their first practice of the academic year this Monday, kicking off a new and more normal 2021-2022 season. The team will train the rest of this fall and into the spring, finishing with the annual Bengal Bouts tournament in mid-February.
Club president, senior Alec Vasquez, said the club has two main goals.
“One is to have a boxer to become the best boxer they can be,” he said. “The second goal is to raise money for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.”
The men’s boxing club has a long history on Notre Dame’s campus. The club was created in 1920 by the legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne and gained a true sense of purpose in 1931 when it began fundraising for the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh, according to the club’s website.
Ever since the first Bengal Bouts tournament in 1931, hundreds of boxers have competed. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the normal functioning of the club. The team still gathered for masked workouts and trained their technique together. However, boxers were not allowed to make contact with one another, and there was no tournament at the end of the season.
This year, boxers are ready to get back in the ring. Getting ready for the February tournament requires both physical and mental preparation. The practices take place five days a week and consist of a high intensity workout for the first hour and technique training for second hour.
“Everyone who’s coming who is starting this for the first time is stepping out of their comfort zone,” Vasquez said. On the mental front, the club promotes a balance between academics and other club commitments while reminding members they are working for a bigger purpose.
“We just want to get as many Notre Dame alumni, boxing alumni and boxing fans out to that tournament, because all the proceeds that come from that tournament go towards supporting the cause that we’re raising money for,” Vasquez said.
Despite the pandemic, the club raised about $215,000 last year. This year, the club plans to keep up the fundraising efforts.
“I set the goal for $200,000 this year, but realistically, I’d like to aim for even $250,000 because I think that we can do it,” Vasquez said.
The club’s fundraising goes towards the Holy Cross missions that build primary and technical schools and clinics, which educate high school and college students in Bangladesh.
“Those missions serve to promote the education of the Catholic minority in Bangladesh, which makes up less than 1 percent of the population. And they depend on our resources heavily throughout the year,” Vasquez said.
Since 2008, Notre Dame’s International Summer Service Learning Program has run a summer mission trip to Bangladesh for two to four boxers to contribute to the Holy Cross missions, except for last year, according to the ISSLP website. The club is excited to have the opportunity for this program again this summer, Vasquez said.
When asked what he was looking forward to the most, Vasquez pointed to each boxer’s progress. “I’m excited to see those guys that stick with it and progress in terms of their fitness level, but also in terms of their knowledge of boxing,” he said. “It’s going to be really rewarding seeing them actually step into the ring and put those skills to use.”
“Try it out for a few weeks and most people fall in love with it,” Vasquez said. “Because of the friendships that they make, because of the way that their body feels after becoming so in shape, and then also just knowing that they’re supporting a cause bigger than themselves.”