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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Boxers prepare for 85th Bengal Bouts

Andy Faustone (right) fights Jeffrey Wang in a round during last year’s Bengal Bouts. The Bouts  benefit Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.
Wei Lin | The Observer
Wei Lin | The Observer
Andy Faustone (right) fights Jeffrey Wang in a round during last year’s Bengal Bouts. The Bouts
benefit Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh.

Sunday marks the start of preliminary rounds for the 85th Bengal Bouts tournament, held annually in the Joyce Center Field House.

For all participants, the long-running boxing tournament is an opportunity to raise money for Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh. For others, the fight goes farther.

Bengal Bouts captain Pete McGinley said the tournament, which is broadcast on ESPN3 for the final round, “combines elements of sport and service to create a really unique experience.”

“Like Dominic ‘Nappy’ Napolitano [who organized the first tournament] once said, the beautiful part of Bengal Bouts is that while there are some students who join simply for the boxing, most of the boxers are there because they know that they are doing something good for someone else,” McGinley said.

McGinley said he has seen marked improvement in how connected the boxers feel with the people they are aiding.

“This year we started having ‘Mission Mondays’, which would typically feature one of our boxers who has gone to Bangladesh either telling stories from his experience or just emphasizing the importance of the missions,” McGinley said.

McGlinley said a crucial part of Bengal Bouts' relationship with the Holy Cross missions is the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP), which sends boxers to Bangladesh every year. Freshman Chris Dethlefs, who will live in Bangladesh this summer, said he hopes his experiences abroad will make him even more committed to the club’s mission.

“Participating in the ISSLP will give me the chance to dedicate myself more fully to the real purpose of Bengal Bouts, which is a fight for the poor and marginalized in Bangladesh,” he said.

Dethlefs said he appreciates both the service aspect and the physical challenge of the tournament.

“After a grueling workout and seeing how hard each individual was working, I could see that I was going to love the challenges the club presented,” Dethlefs said.

For junior Chris Bertini, the fight is personal. He said he was unable to compete his sophomore year because he was recovering from cancer, but he worked to regain strength for the 2015 tournament.

“I was in terrible shape from my chemotherapy treatment four months prior, so I worked out on my own to get my fitness back,” he said.

Bertini said the tournament is a way to show he has improved.

“Bengal Bouts is my chance to prove to myself that I am capable of anything,” Bertini said.

In addition to its service component, McGlinley said the tournament is a chance to connect with fellow students across grades – boxers commonly hear about the club from older friends, and some even knew of the tournament while still in high school.

“That's one of my favorite parts of Bengal Bouts, the way that it allows older guys to connect with underclassmen, especially freshmen, and get them involved with a great team early on in the fall semester,” McGinley said.

Bertini said he hopes everyone attempts a challenge on par with boxing at least once in his or her life.

“You don’t know how strong you really are until you challenge yourself,” Bertini said. “Whether it be Bengal Bouts, running a marathon, a grueling academic schedule or beating cancer.”

Tickets for Bengal Bouts can be purchased through the tournament's website. Student tickets cost $5, and a four-round season pass costs $20.