UMass boxing club focuses on building community through technique

By Chloe Trepanier

(Ryan Dickey/ Flickr)
(Ryan Dickey/ Flickr)

If you pass by room 118 of the Recreation Center on any Wednesday night, one might assume the people in there are doing some form of above-water synchronized swimming. You’ll hear instructors yelling out commands like “self correct,” “forward,” “back” or “left back” as other people follow.

According to Samantha Giffen and Christopher Moore, president and vice president of the club, the mission of the boxing club is “to facilitate the health and development of students through the art of boxing. We accomplish this by providing an environment where students can learn the technique of the sport while pushing themselves physically under the guidance and encouragement of a supportive community.”

About 40 people make up the club, and within the group, there are roughly 15 who compete at the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

Most of the members start off practice by wrapping up their hands. All members gather in a circle around the room and start running laps around the space as a warm-up. Following that exercise, everyone assemble into lines in front of the trainers to practice jabs.

From here, trainers move around the room to make sure everyone’s form is correct. “Absolutely no back heel should be touching” is repeated throughout this exercise as each boxer practices proper technique.

After counting off, members are split up into groups for circuit training. Each station featured lunges, squats, supermans, wall sits and various other vigorous exercises.

Giffen said that the club is welcoming to all kinds of people with different experiences and goals.

“If someone was interested in joining the UMass boxing club, we would let them know that they are sure to find a place for themselves with us,” Giffen said.

She added: “We realize people have many different goals, and we find ways to cater to our members’ needs. Many people come just wanting to learn how to box, and for that there is certainly plenty of technique and mitt work offered here at our practices on-campus.”

“I would suggest taking serious consideration into sparing – at least once, because it’s one thing to learn technique but it’s another thing to actually apply and practice,” said Calvin Kwong, a sophomore biology major who will serve as vice president in the coming semester.

Anandhiya Baratham, a sophomore computer science major, added that he likes coming to practices because, “Everyone is wicked nice and the officers are really knowledgeable and are always willing to help, but they also push you during workouts.”

A major priority within the club is that safety is practiced. Giffen said this is achieved through taking an “individualized approach” in terms of exercise regiments. Trainers also approach members throughout practice to ensure their form is correct.

“We believe an individual knows what is best for themselves. We encourage members to alter exercises to what works for them by offering alternatives and promoting our programs as only suggestions,” Giffen said.

UMass students are welcome to come into practice to test the club out for the first two weeks, and if interested, they can pay a $20 joining fee to continue.

The boxing club practices Wednesday from 8-10:30 p.m., Saturday from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-2:30 p.m. in room 118 of the Recreation Center.

Chloe Trepanier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ChloeTrepahnyay.