Boxing club struggles to grow, despite University restrictions

Boxing+club+struggles+to+grow%2C+despite+University+restrictions

CW File

Molly Walsh

“Boxing was my true passion,” Abdein said. “It always brought me up. It was an art. It was a passion, and it was a stress reliever for me. Anything I had on my mind, I would just go to boxing, and I would forget all about it.”

The University of Alabama Boxing Club is a co-ed, Student Government Association club established in 2014. Abdein has also managed to officially register the club with USA Boxing and the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association. The club holds regular practices at the Student Recreation Center, but the extent of what they can practice is limited.

“Take a seat,” Abid said as he motioned to a heavy bag on the floor. “We use these as chairs because we can’t do anything else with them.”

Abdein was recently able to convince Dave Godber to become the coach of
 the club.

Godber has shown members of the club how to train like Olympians by instating the same 3-point program the Olympic Boxing team uses: cardio, strength and technique. The cardio consists of jumping rope because it tones more muscles than running and is less likely to cause injuries. Breaks during cardio are spent doing abdominal workouts, and then the workout leaders of the club transition everyone into a crossfit workout. Later the club works on sparring technique without actually hitting anything in order to compromise with the Rec Center’s wishes.

The Rec Center has refused the boxing club the ability to spar on the grounds even though the club members have offered to pay for the insurance out of pocket. Brooke Turner, the assistant director of Competitive Sports for The University of Alabama Student Recreation Center, said the students should consider meeting at 
other facilities.

“We have clubs that have very specific things with their club that are outside of the scope of what we normally do here,” Turner said. ”…So we encourage them to do that type of activity at facilities that are specific to their needs. Hockey goes to an ice rink to practice, and crossfit club worked with a local crossfit gym. Boxing is the same way, and that was actually a condition of them being accepted as a sport club.”

The Boxing Club was established and accepted in 2014, since then the executive board, coach and faculty adviser have completely changed. These new club leaders want to grow and move forward without having to travel to Birmingham to practice sparring. In addition to preventing the boxing club from practicing any actual boxing, the University also doesn’t allow the club to store any equipment in the Rec Center.

There are two free-standing heavy bags in the combat room of the Rec Center, but they are for use by reservation only, and anyone can reserve them. For the club members, it’s difficult enough to schedule practice times for everyone. Trying to reserve public heavy bags during that time proves even more difficult.

“We aren’t able to punch any bags or store our equipment anywhere, which means our workout leaders take at least 10 pounds of equipment home with them each day and bring it back just because we do not have a place to store it.” Abdein said.

Turner was unaware of the rules preventing physical contact with heavy bags and the liability issues that go along with those rules. The club has offered to pay for any insurance members might need out of pocket, but to 
no avail.

“I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t say for certain, but there are definitely concerns for all parties involved.,” Turner said. Safety is always one of our main concerns, and we want to try to make this environment as safe as possible to do things that have risk for 
our participants.”

One of the club’s goals for this year is to organize private self-defense classes with every sorority on campus. Club members hope to teach young women not only how to avoid dangerous situations but also what to do in case they find themselves feeling threatened. The Rec Center has told the club it should not start these classes because the recreation center wants to start the 
same class.

“We just had some questions for them about certifications for instructors and working within the scope of knowledge and how information was being portrayed for those classes so that we’re making sure the individuals in the club and the people participating in those classes were receiving good information about safety and self defense,” Turner said.

The members of the club that intended to lead the self defense classes are USA Boxing certified coaches. USA Boxing is the National Governing Body for Olympic-style boxing in the 
United States.

The boxing club is also working with a sorority to create a philanthropic fraternity boxing event. Each boxer who volunteers from their respective fraternity would be required to pass a fitness test and receive two months of training prior to the event. Although events just like that one are held at other SEC schools, the club is having trouble getting approval from the University to hold the event on campus. The University of Georgia hosts an annual boxing event for charity called “Brawl for a Cause,” and in last year’s event, University of Florida students traveled to UGA to participate.

“This is not a strong man competition. I’m not going to throw in guys that don’t know how to box; that’s not the point here,” Abdein Said.

The inability to spar on a regular basis on campus is a disappointment to the entire club. Members feel it would be helpful to be able to practice the skills they have learned during 
their practices.

“When it comes to boxing, a lot of people think of boxing as a very aggressive sport when it is not anything near that,” Abdein said. “As any other martial art…. It’s an art. It’s a passion. 
It’s discipline.”