When boxing is in your blood, you will find a place and time to do it.
When Badger boxing is in your blood, you will find a way to get it back on campus.
“Of all of the sports you guys have, you guys don't have boxing?” sophomore Chandler Davis asked the school.
Davis’ father boxed for the University of Wisconsin-Madison decades ago.
In 1960 UW-Madison boxing captain and decorated athlete Charlie Mohr died from a head injury sustained in the ring. Since then, the sport has been banned at UW, and the NCAA outlawed intercollegiate play.
“It is one of the more brutal sports, definitely is,” Davis said.
Davis noticed club sports on campus, including martial arts-based competition, that incorporate elements of combat and wondered why he couldn’t bring the sport he was passionate about into the mix.
“They have a lot of unique sports but they don't have, you know, boxing, it's been around for a long time. It's a classic American sport,” Davis said.
Davis spent the last year and a half getting the necessary approvals to add boxing to the 41 other club sports. He had to maintain the club by holding weekly practices at Ford’s Gym on Madison’s east side. Davis said he had multiple meetings to make his case and present how members would spar safely.
“It's just a sport. It's nothing else,” Davis said. “I don't want kids to go pro and become brain dead later in 50 years.”
Practice will begin Wednesday in a newly refurbished room in UW’s Natatorium.
Davis said every person who wants to compete will have to sign a waiver. Davis added people can join without actually facing off in the ring, and no one will be allowed to box against an opponent until they get enough training under their belt.
Davis said Michigan, USC and Penn State all have thriving boxing clubs, and he hopes UW’s group grows to that caliber. He has already been impressed by the number of people that have come out to at least find out more about the sport.
“I can see that risk in it, but there is risk in everything you do,” Davis said.
Bob Lynch was a student coach on UW’s team when Mohr died, forcing the program off campus. He will now take over as one of the coaches for the new club team.
“Boxing can be very dangerous, but also it has an awful lot of good going for it,” Lynch said.
Lynch said boxing would bring upwards of 15,000 people to the ring in UW’s prime. He said he looks forward to coaching again, but he won’t consider it a victory until the university recognizes the sport on an intercollegiate level again.
“You're going to have a few bruises, you're not going to be real happy, and if you didn't perform well enough to prevail and win the decision, it can be a bit of a letdown,” Lynch said. “But a real good person then takes that as an experience and attempts to utilize it as something that's going to help them as time goes by.”