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February 26, 2013

Broghammer battling in Bouts

No scuffles during morning recess. No boxing matches in the neighbor's basement. No street fights.

The first time Mike Broghammer took one on the chin was just a few weeks ago during a sparring session with another member of the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts contingent.

Tuesday night, the 6-foot-9, 243-pound basketball player from Orono, Minn., takes on fellow heavyweight Sean Lischke in the semi-finals of the annual Bengal Bouts at the University of Notre Dame.

"Zero," said Broghammer when asked about his previous boxing experience prior to tying on the gloves for the first time just a few short weeks ago. "I (boxed) once with my uncle one day when I was probably 12, and he showed me a couple things. But other than that…"

Broghammer needed at outlet when the Irish senior, who will graduate from Notre Dame with a degree in economics and computer applications in May, came to the realization that his balky knees no longer could handle the pounding of running up and down a basketball court.

"After the first few weeks of (basketball) practice, I was getting really antsy," Broghammer said. "I love to watch basketball, but when I think I should still be out there playing, it's much harder to watch and really frustrating for me. So at first, the workouts were a release of energy for me and distracted me from what I couldn't do anymore.

"I'd always been interested in (the Bengal Bouts). I'd catch glimpses of it on the way to practice. It's something that I've always wanted to try."

Broghammer has modified his workouts because extensive running was out of the question. He's learned to condition through stationary bicycle, aerodyne and elliptical work - anything to reduce the impact on his knees.

The first time Broghammer sparred with another boxer, however, he learned some valuable lessons, and took quite a beating.

"Never been punched, never thrown a punch before that first spar," Broghammer said.

And the result?

"I got beat up really bad," Broghammer smiled. "I mean, I didn't get a concussion or anything. But I was pretty bloody afterwards and landed like maybe two punches in the two rounds that I went with this guy. It was an eye-opening experience for me. It's all about technique in this game.

"I learned the hardest way that my hand positioning was way off. Once you get inside my reach, it's not good for me. I got my butt kicked pretty badly in that first spar. But I learned from it, and then after that, it's footwork. Footwork is key."

Broghammer applied those on-the-fly lessons last week to defeat fellow heavyweight Matt Boomer when the referee stopped the fight in the second of a three-round bout.

Tonight, he takes on Lischke in semi-finals action with the winner advancing to the finals Friday against the winner of the Dan Yi vs. Bob Burkett fight.

"It's been a great experience," Broghammer said. "It's been eye-opening for sure."

The Bengals Bouts began in 1920 when legendary Irish football coach Knute Rockne was looking for ways to condition his players during the off-season. The annual event raises money for the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. The Bengal Bouts contributed more than $100,000 in 2010.

Notre Dame walk-on football players Tyler Plantz and Eamon McOsker also have reached the semi-finals of the 194-pound division. If both win tonight, they'll square off in the championship.


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