Dominic "Nappy" Napolitano

Dominic Napolitano

Knute Rockne formed the Notre Dame Boxing Club in the early 1920’s as a way of keeping his players in shape during the off season. He never dreamed it would become the fundraising success it is today. It was Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano who transformed the Club into the Bengal Bouts. The annual fight raises funds to support the Holy Cross Mission in Bangladesh, formerly known as Bengal. The mission, which is over 150 years old, is made up of a school, college, seminary, orphanage and hospital. In 2010 the Bengal Bouts raised over $100,000. This surpassed the $1,000,000th donated throughout the program’s existence. 

In the April 4, 1955 issue of Sports Illustrated, Budd Shulberg wrote: “On the Notre Dame campus they credit a quietly vigorous and purposeful, fatherly little man, Dominic "Nappy" Napolitano, with having established the ideal atmosphere of sportsmanship, safety and lack of any commercial taint for these bouts. Nappy went to Notre Dame from Pleasantville, New York in the late 20s, boxed there as a featherweight, fell in love with the campus, and—except for a three-year hitch as boxing instructor for the Navy—has lived and taught there ever since. Each year, some three months before the Bengal Bouts, 15 to 200 boys, many of whom have never had a glove on, put themselves in Nappy's hands to prepare them for the tournament that winds up the eve of St. Patrick's Day. 

Throughout the training period it is no exaggeration to say that Nappy worries about the welfare of each contestant with the personal concern of a father. He sees that they do their two-mile roadwork each day, their calisthenics, he instructs each boy personally and supervises their daily workouts with each other. By the time they are ready to enter the ring the second week of March they have trained as carefully, as intensely and as long as Rocky Marciano prepares for a defense of his title.”