USF Boxing Is Ready To Rumble

The USF Boxing Club looks to get back to their winning ways as they rebuild the program. Photo courtesy of Library Dean Shawn P. Calhoun/Flickr

Hidden on the bottom floor of Koret Health & Recreation Center lies a combative haven where the USF Boxing Club has met since its creation in 1997. The boxing gym is tucked away, small, and full of character. The walls are decorated with old photos from “fight nights” in past years, many against local rivals, such as Santa Clara University. Past the hanging punching bags that dangle from the ceiling, the ring sits in the middle of the gym surrounded by photos of boxing greats like Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, draped with flags from various countries worldwide. 

The club was recently brought back and certified by USF and Koret in 2022 and looks to continue to build on their previous winning pedigree.

“This place has a legacy,” said head coach Armand Bartolome. “That’s what really fascinated me to become one of the coaches here. They’ve had champions here since 2013 …  all the way through to the pandemic, and that kind of just really shot everything down for a little bit, so last year was pretty much our rebuild[ing] stage.”

The club has consistently produced national champions and Golden Glove winners since 2013, until the club suspended operations due to the pandemic. In 2013, USF hosted the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) championship, which was a pivotal moment, being the first time collegiate boxing competition was open to women. USF also housed the first collegiately recognized female national champion boxer, Adrianna Boursalian.

Club president, sophomore Linus Phoenix, is currently leading the club and hopes to add his name to the list of champions.

“Before coming to USF, I primarily did Muay Thai, so kicks, elbows, everything else, and coming here, I saw the boxing program and how [distinguished] it was,” Phoenix said. “As far as the future goes, I’ve started training on the side too. I’ll come to every single practice and then I’m also doing two, three hours of work with a personal trainer every day so that when the time comes to compete, I’ll be able to properly represent USF.”

Despite the boxing club’s winning competitive history, beginners and leisure fighters are still encouraged to participate. Many of the club members are in the beginning stages of their boxing development. For sophomore psychology major Fania Villarreal, at the time of the interview, she was there for her first practice.

Villarreal was invited by fellow sophomore psychology major, Ashley Sosa. “Sosa just texted me today and was like, do you want to come box with me today and try it out?” Villarreal said. “I was like, Yeah, sure. And I’ve never boxed before but I’ve been trying to get more into sports.” 

Sosa chimed in regarding her spontaneous invite to her friend. She said, “The club is really casual, And I know everyone, just because everyone’s so cool with each other. And if I bring a friend I know they’re going to be cool with them too, because everyone’s just very friendly.”

The sport of boxing is a mental workout. As he wrapped his fists and laced his boxing shoes, sophomore business analytics major, Justin Boyle, reflected on his brief time with the club and its impact outside the boxing ring.

“I think a lot of us, we leave behind certain parts of ourselves like athletics and things like that in high school,” he said. “So the opportunity to come flex these muscles that haven’t flexed in a while, you know, that’s valuable…just having that outlet or the space to even come together with like-minded people, and just let out some of that physical steam. That’s definitely a blessing.”

With the boxing club making its comeback, they can continue to build on their storied history on The Hilltop. 

The USF Boxing Club meets on the bottom floor of Koret on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. You can get more information from their Instagram @usfboxing. 

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor:Jordan Premmer, Sports Editor: Chase Darden

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