Last October, Brian Kelly rewarded one of his hardest working players. He named walk-on Chris Salvi a game day captain for the battle against Navy. Two weeks ago, Kelly gave reward Salvi again. This time with a scholarship for next season.
"Chris has proven himself in our program," Kelly said this week. "He was one of our better special teams players last year. He's done everything we've asked in representing our program."
On Saturday night, Salvi's incredible journey continued, as he represented the football program in one of Notre Dame's most exciting traditions. Legendary Irish football coach Knute Rockne introduced boxing to Notre Dame in 1920. Over the years, it grew much bigger with proceeds going to missions in Bangladesh. Now in its 82nd year, it is known famously as the Bengal Bouts.
Salvi made it all the way to the finals at 188 pounds Saturday night in front of a big crowd at Purcell Pavilion.
"A Combination of hard work I've done over the last how many years," Salvi explains. "It's been hard. B even though it’s been hard, it's been worth it at the end."
The Rocky of the Irish football team was well in control, dominating the first two rounds against a fitting opponent--Adrian "Yo Adrian" Moreno. Then It was like a scene out of Rocky IV with Salvi playing the role of Ivan Drago as he taunted Moreno and managed to turn the whole crowd against him.
"Adrian, Adrian," fans started yelling as they continued to boo Salvi.
"It's tough to win on the road when you think you are on home court," Salvi's football teammate Mike Golic Jr. says. "But like anything else, we thought all that noise was making Salvi mad. We thought he'd put him on the mat after that."
Salvi didn't put Adrian on the mat. In fact, Moreno battled back to bloody up Salvi in a thrilling finish that received a standing ovation.
"A heck of a battle,” Salvi said after the fight. “He doesn't stop coming. I'm drained right now, and my nose, the blood. It was a lot of fun."
This championship went to the judges' scorecards. In a split decision, Salvi took home the win.
"It feels pretty good," He explained. "That was a tough fight. It means a lot. My brother won it last year. It's nice t do something great that my brother did. Just tried to make the family proud."
Salvi certainly made his football family proud. Braxston Cave, Brandon Newman and Trevor Robinson were among the many teammates that were on hand along with Golic to cheer Salvi on.