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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mike Lee Fighting at ND for charity

Mike Lee (right) fights in ND Blue & Gold
Boxing phenom Mike Lee of Notre Dame University will be fighting at his alma mater this Friday night as he  continues to represent the University and is putting some heavyweight support behind the fund-raising efforts.

See recent story by ESPN's Dan Rafael - click HERE.

Notre Dame is known for its football team, of course, but for one night, boxing will take over.
That's because 24-year-old light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee (6-0, 4 KOs), a proud 2009 Notre Dame graduate, will take center stage at South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 16.
Lee, who earned a finance degree in 2009 but turned his back on Wall Street to pursue his passion for boxing, will face Jacob Stiers(4-1, 2 KOs) in a four-rounder that will headline the first-ever card in the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on the school campus the night before the Fighting Irish football team hosts rival Michigan State. Junior middleweight Glen Tapia (10-0, 5 KOs), one of Top Rank's top prospects, is also on the card. The ring will be set up at what would be midcourt for a basketball game.
"This fight, for me, is definitely the biggest fight of my life," Lee told me this week from Houston, where he is training with Ronnie Shields. "To be considered the main event and for it be a homecoming fight is pretty incredible for me. I always had a dream to do this. Me and my dad would talk about it, and now it is coming true. There was a lot of red tape to go through, but when we had our meeting with the school and Top Rank, it went really smoothly. All along we wanted to do this the Notre Dame way. It's a charity event, which I am really pumped about. A charity event on the night before a big game. I am pumped about that."
Indeed, it isn't just a night of fights. Lee wanted to give back to the Notre Dame community that he is so proud of (and that is so proud of him, as evidenced by all the blue and gold "Team Lee" shirts that can be seen worn at his fights around the country). So although Lee will take his $5,000 purse, he will donate most of what should be considerable profits from the gate and sponsors.
With a big football game scheduled for the next day, the area will be packed and a big crowd is expected at the arena, which will hold about 10,000. After the expenses are paid, Lee has pledged the rest of the money the show generates -- with at least a $100,000 minimum -- to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation (named for the school's former football coach) and the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, which tutors and mentors kids in the area with an afterschool program.
Lee said giving back is important to him. And he isn't just talking about it. He's doing it.
"When I sat down with Notre Dame, I said I wanted to help out kids, and both of those charities do that," said Lee, who won the Chicago Golden Gloves in 2009 and also boxed in the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts. "When I was younger, I had someone who mentored me, so I think this was a way to give back. It was important for me to choose where the proceeds were going. I will be proud of what the money will do to help. This is going to be a great event that is good for both causes."
Lee is also excited to have boxing on campus to expose many people in the area to a sport they might not otherwise get to see.
"A lot of my fans, when they come to my fights, they say it's the first time they've come to a boxing match," Lee said. "And they can't believe the electricity at the event. You'll have more people coming out to see the show who wouldn't be boxing fans but might become boxing fans. So it's like a domino thing."
The fight on campus has been in the works for quite some time. First John Lee, Mike's father and manager, worked hard with the school on the idea. Then Top Rank's Carl Moretti -- probably the world's biggest Fighting Irish fan (just listen to the greeting on his cell phone, which plays the school's fight song) -- also met with Notre Dame officials in March to go over the plans.
There are a few things Top Rank will have to handle differently than it does for other boxing cards. Out of respect for the school's religious roots, there won't be any round card girls. No beer sponsor, either. Other than that, it should be just another good night at the fights.
See the most recent Subway commercial, featuring Ryan Howard (Phila Phillies), Justin Tuck (NY Giants), Michael Strahan (former Giant and Super Bowl champ) along with Mike Lee, who is gaining terrific awareness in just his second year of pro boxing.
Mike's next fight (December) is likely to be at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Terry Lyons Sports & Entertainment Marketing LLC is proud to be consulting with Rhino Worldwide, Lee's official marketing and promotion agent along with Team Lee.
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