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Benet graduate Lee is ready to rumble in Golden Gloves
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Columnist

Photo by Tom Barnes/Tomba-Images. Benet graduate Mike Lee (right) lands a right to the head of Chicago Golden Gloves opponent Isidro Medrano of Aurora.

 

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Published: 4/16/2009 12:22 AM

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"Ladies and gentlemen! In this corner, wearing white trunks with green trim, the pride of Benet Academy and the University of Notre Dame, Mike "The Cream of Wheaton" Lee!"

Uh... no.

How about this: "Mike 'The Big Dog' Lee!"

Too cliché.

The 2005 Benet graduate admits his nickname needs work.

His boxing skills are in fighting trim, however, which he'll try to prove again Saturday night in the 178-pound title fight of the Chicago Golden Gloves at St. Andrews Gym, 1658 W. Addison St.

"I love when people come out and support me. It only pumps me up more," said Lee, and that could be bad news for title opponent Franco Sambataro.

Lee, a Notre Dame senior finance major who won his third straight title at the college's annual Bengal Bouts tournament in February, went 4-0 in Golden Gloves preliminary fights. Two of his victories were by decision and the referee stepped in to end two others.

"The transition to the amateurs and the Golden Gloves is a little bit different," said Lee, 21. "We use 12-ounce gloves (as opposed to 16), rounds are all two minutes, the fights either three rounds or four rounds.

"It's definitely a step up in many aspects, especially the 12-ounce gloves. The first time I got hit with 12-ounce gloves I could definitely notice the difference. There's a lot more punching power and hand speed."

Lee gave better than he got. Unlike the "headhunters" he's fought, his experience and sessions with trainer Dennis Hardesty concentrates not only on clanging someone's bell but also on delivering deadly body shots. At least one of his victims was put down by a body combination.

"I could hear him lose all his breath," said Lee, a recent guest on the "Monsters in the Morning" cable TV show.

The charitable arm of Notre Dame's Bengal Bouts was not lost on Lee. Since 1931 the tournament has helped raise funds for mission work in Bangladesh.

Lee went there in January to help establish a student leadership program and to help with a documentary film, "Strong Bodies Fight," by Notre Dame Men's Boxing Club President Mark Weber.

"It made me proud of what Bengal Bouts does," Lee said.

If after he graduates a possible foray into pro boxing goes as well as some people think it might, there'll be another reason for pride.

Perhaps a flashy nickname, too. Or not.

"When I'm in the ring I'm in such a zone I don't really here what the announcer or anyone is saying," he said. "It's been a nonissue for me."

Track team helps run Walk

Hinsdale Central's boys track team is helping out with this Sunday's Walk the Walk for Autism, a benefit for the Charlie's Gift Autism Center, which has locations at Hinsdale and in Downers Grove.

As part of Hinsdale Central's "Character Counts" initiative, last year the boys raised $5,000 for the center. Their goal this year is at least that much. In addition to fundraising, team members will be at corners and cross streets helping guide the walkers.

First off the tee

Wheaton North senior Rachael Bradley has been signed as the first women's golf player in the history of Judson College in Elgin. The Golden Eagles begin play in both women's and men's golf this fall.

"It was really cool," Bradley said. "I don't even know how they found out how I played golf."

It wasn't just out of the rough, er, blue. Bradley listed playing at Wheaton North on her application.

As well, her father, William, may have brought it up, considering he's a Judson graduate who once saw Rachael make a hole-in-one at Wheaton's Cantigny Youth Links.

She first joined her father on golf courses at about age 5, "driving the cart and stuff."

She got more serious as a freshman, and she now shoots in the low-50s.

"It's a challenge," she said. "It's not too physically straining ... but it's a mental game and I just really like the challenge."

Bradley doesn't take a great deal of pride in being Judson's first women's golfer, but she is looking forward to the camaraderie.

"I just think it's going to be really cool to see how the team develops," she said. "I know coach (Chris) Watson's working hard putting stuff together, trying to get people, and helping people out. It could be a really tight group of girls."