Tom Zbikowski (or, as he used to be known in at least one South Bend barbershop, "that Polish kid who can really hit") is quickly becoming my favorite ND football player. The kid is levelheaded, competitive, community-minded and fearless, as evidenced by his fighting in a charity bout on three days notice against an amateur heavyweight with a 23-3 record:
Leo High School, the site of Wednesday's bout, is a small, financially strapped school on Chicago's south side. Its enrollment is 98 percent black, and many of its students come from what is characterized as poverty-laden and high-crime areas. And yet the success stories of its alumni continue to outnumber the tragic turns brought on by little more than life circumstances.
This is why Zbikowski was back in the boxing ring Wednesday night after a year away from the sport. This is why he was willing to risk embarrassment, given that he had all of three days to train for the fight. This is why he almost threw his cell phone against the wall when, hours before the bout, he got word that his appearance to raise money for charity would be construed as a rules infraction by the NCAA.
The good news for Leo High School and Notre Dame is that the NC-double-assholes relented and let Tom fight. That was also bad news for Tom's opponent, who he dispatched by TKO in the second round.