Last time you walked into Goergen Athletic Center, you likely found the sporting landscape to be homogenous: unquestionably, basketball rules the courts. Those aspiring to try something new and different will have to search beyond their first glance. This was William Bade two years ago when he wandered into the Boxing Club’s initial meeting.

“I got involved in the boxing club fairly randomly,” says Bade. “I had tried to start a club freshman year and it fell through last minute, but I knew the process.” After attending a general interest meeting, Bade was intrigued by the passion of prospective president Miles Meth and, as a Senator, offered his services to help make the club a reality.

Boxing, rated by ESPN as the most physically demanding sport of all, reached its heyday in the second half of the 20th century. Name-brand professional fighters like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson ruled the headlines and films like “Raging Bull” and the “Rocky” series dramatized the sport and added to its appeal.

Although television ratings indicate the sport is not as popular as it once was, fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have invigorated the fan community. Viewers enjoy the physicality and power that the sport emphasizes.

But for the club at UR, boxing is more about getting in shape and learning technique than knocking out opponents. “Our focus is really to just have fun and give the student body a chance to explore the world of boxing to whatever extent they wish to,” Bade says. “It offers a great workout and really enriches our members with self-confidence.” While the competitive side of boxing is not emphasized, the skills learned could still come in handy for self-defense if the situation should arise.

Now a senior and business manager, Bade speaks about the future of Boxing Club. Despite some recent struggles with administration, members are optimistic that the club is on the rise. They put on their inaugural “fight night” last semester, a showcase of the skills of some of UR’s top boxers. One instantly notable observation is that there is a diverse array of talent. Many members are black belts and have been boxing for four years or more.  However, the majority are just getting involved with the sport.

The club would like to provide a more comprehensive scope of workouts, tailored so that each member may find a practice suited to their skill level. Meth and the rest of the club are looking into adding two weekly off-campus workouts, one for beginners and one for advanced members.

Beginners can learn basic technique and receive all the positive effects of vigorous physical activity, while more experienced fighters can practice sparring and learn new moves and tricks. The club is also applying for funding from the school to provide equipment for the athletic center, which would increase the possibilities during practices and overall awareness of the sport on campus.

There are not many activities that reflect the spontaneity of college life better than learning an obscure sport. “It just shows how great this school is that we have the opportunity to enrich the lives of students by exposing them to a… non-‘mainstream’ sport,” Bade says.  This community founded around boxing is both physically and mentally enriching.

For the body, it provides an exercise routine described as “incredibly intense,” working out virtually every muscle as well as helping to develop a strong core. Like any well-organized club, it also provides a supportive and positive environment for students, building bonds which can last well beyond graduation.

For me, the most impressive aspect of the club is its continued focus on ideals and self-improvement rather than the angry competition that might be expected from a group practicing such a violent activity.

Boxing Club meets twice a week on campus in the Goergen Athletic Center’s Multi-Activity Center (the “mirror room”) on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 PM, open to the public (even if you are not part of the club). They also have an off-campus workout every other Saturday for the more serious fighters, where they work with professional trainers from the area.

Freedman is a member of the class of 2016.

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