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By Scott Frano ’13
Hannah Storm Journalism Intern

The purpose of Bengal Bouts is well-publicized: to raise money for the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh and provide for the “weak bodies” of the malnourished. What often gets overlooked, though, is the amount of work that goes into preparing those “strong bodies” to fight.

Bengal Bouts practices start in October. Boxers are required to attend at least four out of the six practice sessions per week, with practices normally lasting around 90 minutes each. Senior captain Jeff Ulrich ’13, participating for the fourth time and second as a captain, said the workouts are designed specifically for boxing.

“We don’t do too much long-distance running or long stamina stuff,” Ulrich said. “We do more explosive exercises, plyometric pushups, jump lunges, things that explode your muscles because that’s more of a boxing motion. Usually it’s 35, 40 minutes of workout and then maybe 45 minutes of boxing skill.”

To survive the months of grueling workouts, many boxers find that they have to change their lifestyle and diet choices.

“I tried to make sure I got enough sleep every night because I wanted to be able to actually do things the next day,” first-time boxer Ian Graham ’13 said. “Sometimes I got enough, sometimes I didn’t. As far as diet goes, I basically just really cut out my sugar and tried to avoid a lot of carbs. I’m already a pretty skinny guy, so I didn’t have to lose a lot of weight.”

Senior captain Alex Oloriz ’13, a four-time boxer and two-time captain like Ulrich, said his biggest adjustment is in his time management.

“I don’t go out as much or see my friends as much,” Oloriz said. “During boxing season, it’s school and boxing and that’s it. That’s the biggest change.”

Ulrich personally finds that the time-consuming nature of Bengal Bouts actually can be beneficial.

“It gives some structure to your day,” he said. “You have to show up at the gym every day around 4:30, and you leave around 6:30. It takes up a solid two hours of your day. You can’t do dinner dates with people for three months or so, you miss whatever meetings are going on at that time, and you can’t have a class at that time. But it does force you to structure the rest of your day, and it also gives you a great built-in excuse.”

Bengal Bouts captains are responsible for many aspects of the fights, including advertising and fundraising. As a captain, Ulrich said he has gained a much broader perspective on what goes into making Bengal Bouts happen.

“You really get a better sense of what the entire program is about, not just the boxing,” he said. “Captains are required to do interviews, help out with marketing, and help design and sell merchandise. We’re running errands around campus all the time. We’re talking to different alumni and priests and people involved with the Bangladesh mission. You get a much fuller perspective of what Bengal Bouts is about.”

Among the highlights of this year’s fights was the knockout of former Irish basketball player Mike Broghammer ’13, standing 6’9” and weighing 260 pounds, by Daniel Yi ’14, just 45 seconds into their heavyweight championship fight. The win over Broghammer, who left the basketball team due to knee issues, gave Yi his third title.

Senior captain Jack Lally ’13 won his fourth title in four tries in the 138 lb. division, and Yi will have the chance to do the same in his own class next year. Each fight was shown live on ESPN3, ESPN’s online streaming site.

But for Graham, the highlight was just stepping into the ring for the one and only fight of his Bengal Bouts career.

“I was overawed by the whole experience, seeing all these great boxers and warming up next to them and getting introduced with the bright lights and all those people there,” Graham said. “I really didn’t know what to make of it. It was an incredible experience and I wish I could go back and do it again, have another crack at it.”

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