SU Boxing Club members return to ring with more determination since pre-pandemic – The Daily Orange

Posted: August 25, 2021 at 1:47 am


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Sareta Gladson was ready to compete in her first official United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association fight the national championships in March 2020. She had mastered novice skills and had never missed a practice, but the organization had no one in her weight class to compete against her.

Before the fight, Gladson, the most recent president of Syracuse University Boxing Club, received an email from SU Recreational Services which said that she and the rest of SUs boxing club would be unable to attend the USIBA national championships due to COVID-19 concerns. But after Gladson informed USIBA that their SU team would not be able to fight in the championships, she got a reply letting her know that they had finally found someone in her weight class.

They basically said, Oh wow. Thats such a shame, we finally had someone for you to fight, Gladson recalled. That was just so devastating because I finally had my shot to prove myself, that all of my training was going to be for something.

Eventually the entire tournament was canceled, but despite this, Gladson was able to find a new responsibility going into the 2020-21 academic year.

After COVID-19 hit, a lot of my mentality was focused on keeping the club alive, Gladson said. Itd be really easy for the club to just die if no one pushed for it.

Gladson kept the club active even though training sessions were extremely limited. During fall 2020, the club was only allowed to train outdoors, so Gladson made it a point to reserve the basketball courts outside of the Womens Building.

During fall 2020, the club was only allowed to train outdoors. Now, theyre back in the Barnes Center. Courtesy of Ellie Huth

Her determination to keep the club active and compete was not just shared by her and her teammates, but also through those who came before her.

In 2011, newly enrolled Syracuse student Joseph Stray wanted to continue to pursue boxing his favorite sport and one of his passions. As a child, Stray was always around boxing, and he became dedicated to the sport as a teenager.

Stray found a boxing club listed on SUs recreational website, but the club had been inactive since the 1950s. He contacted Angie Petrie, the assistant director of sports programs, and inquired about the club.

While several students had had an interest in restarting the boxing club, many had no prior experience with boxing. Stray was different. With plenty of experience under his belt, his proposal was approved, and in 2012, SU Boxing Club was back.

Initially there were around 25 members, but over Strays time as a SU student, he said membership grew to nearly 80. The club attracted undergraduate students (most notably future NFL safety Shamarko Thomas), faculty, staff and even DPS officers. People joined SU Boxing Club for various reasons, but their motivation usually centered around learning and self-improvement, Stray said.

I dug deeper into understanding why people joined, Stray said. Some people joined to learn about American culture. Some people were going to work to increase their self-esteem and feel good about themselves.

Stray graduated from SU in 2014 and began teaching boxing in the local Syracuse area, and by that time, he had laid the foundation for SU Boxing Club.

After Stray graduated, Philip Benedict took over as coach, and he has occupied that position ever since. Benedict currently works for SU military services and is an adjunct instructor in the exercise program.

Benedict, who also leads a self-defense workshop in Syracuse, learned self-defense sports at 12 years old to defend himself against bullies, he said. As he matured as a fighter, he didnt want to be a feared fighter but a teacher, a mentor and a respected fighter.

Gladson, who assists Benedict when he leads self-defense workshops, found the coach to be an incredible influence in her life.

He wants people to know how to defend themselves, Gladson said. He wants them to know how to assert themselves in situations in the world.

Ivan Palacio, a junior and the most recent vice president of the club, says Benedict preaches the importance of having respect while in the ring.

Theres a lot of respect because at the end of the day, you are going to risk your health and youre also going to try to harm the other person, Palacio said.

Benedict stresses that club members should be respectful not just in the ring, but in the classroom and the community. Although he appreciates the dedication of his boxers, he reminds them every practice to remember they are at SU to learn and attend school.

During workshops, the boxers first warm up with some basic drills. Then, the club moves into shadowboxing where fighters shadow box for 3-4 rounds before ending the training session with high-intensity drills. Despite rigorous training sessions, Benedict always found the practices to empower the boxers to challenge themselves and improve.

When the pandemic forced the club outside and prevented them from sparring, all of the members still showed up to training, committed to the ideas of respect, improvement and empowerment. The members determination kept the club alive during a period where they trained for a contact sport without actually making any contact. And despite not competing at USIBA in 2020, the club remains active and continues to train.

Palacio, who, like Gladson, was preparing to fight at the national championships, is eager not only to train like he did in the pre-pandemic days, but also to prepare for fights.

I look forward to it because (fighting) was a big thing that (may have) discouraged people to not come anymore, Palacio said. I also look forward and feel confident to win my first competition.

Published on August 22, 2021 at 10:31 pm

Contact Henry: [emailprotected]

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SU Boxing Club members return to ring with more determination since pre-pandemic - The Daily Orange

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