They say if you build it, they will come. But they forgot to mention that if you don’t build it, they’ll incite a riot. Just imagine Muhammad Ali heading to the gym to train for his fight in Zaire, ‘The Thrilla in Manila,” and finding out that his million-dollar gym hasn’t replaced a heavy bag or speed bag that’s been down for over a month. I would assume that a rational man such as Ali would be pretty disappointed. In that case, I believe that any rational being has the right to be upset that our gym is lacking in equipment.
Goergen Athletic Center has been heavy and speed bag-less for quite some time. Even when there was an existing speed bag, the stand would constantly slide down if you had a decent skill level to work the lackluster bag. The gym also has the setup for a double end ball (a ball that is on the center of a long, springy rope that is attached to the floor and ceiling), but has never actually had a double end ball since I’ve started attending the University.

In light of the recession, one may think the school is trying to economize by refusing to replace the heavy bag, speed bag and speed bag stand. But I have a hard time buying into that when we spend $47,220 in annual fees, while a decent heavy bag, speed bag and stand costs a grand total of $280. If $47,220 isn’t enough, I personally wouldn’t mind if 10 cents were added to our annual fees next semester then we’d be able to afford boxing equipment in four folds.

But is that even necessary? In 2000, $14 million were spent for renovations of the 200-square-foot Goergen Athletic Center. The project was launched in recognition of 1960 UR alumnus Robert B. Goergen’s $5 million donation to the school. If Goergen was willing to donate that much money, I can’t see why the University can’t follow the new gym founder’s example and spare $300 out of its billions.

I will admit, Athletics has made somewhat of an effort to fix the problem. The heavy bag, which was already well worn-out, would constantly fall off its chain. From time to time, the feeble bag was reattached to the stand only to fall again a month later. Eventually, the bag’s age began to scream death when all of its insides began to spill out on the gym floor. Since then, the bag has been removed but has yet to be replaced.

As for the speed bag, the stand was never in a decent state since I’ve started attending the University. If anything, it was designed to diminish my skills every time it slid down and failed to keep up with my speed and precision. The bag itself would constantly lose air every three days or so because of a small hole on its side. Bag users would pump air into the ball so that it could bounce back (essentially, that’s how you use a speed bag).

However, the bag began to bulge and deform like Oscar De La Hoya’s face after his Manny Pacquiao fight. In response, the ball was deflated, but clearly still deformed. Now, there’s a sign next to the speed bag stand that tells gym goers that the ball was removed due to over inflation. The fact that there was a small hole in the speed bag was completely ignored.

Now my workout buddies and I have been struggling to get a decent boxing workout. My hopes of starting a Students’ Association-recognized boxing group are inherently fruitless because of our gym. Considering that the University has recently started a new boxing grant with the Hills family from ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” I hope that the kids will have something to punch that won’t get them suspended.

Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.

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