South Dakota State’s boxing club is underground, yet popular

Will Oliver

Will Oliver

From ever-changing locations in the HPER building to the basement of the Barn, the SDSU boxing team has idled as a university club for longer than team members can remember. But it remains an all-but-forgotten sport at SDSU.

With no funding from the university (contrasting the support many Jackrabbit Club teams receive), the boxing club has not only lingered as a student organization, but has developed a core of dedicated athletes.

SDSU Boxing Club President Robert Olson said that during the five years he has been a participant in the student group, turnout numbers have always fluctuated.

“We pushed last year’s fall semester for interested boxers,” said Olson, a math major from Rochester, Minn., “but we had 30 to 40 people coming. It was a little too crowded.”

Olson said the club’s numbers have fallen some, but attendees are highly interested in the sport and are interested in training hard.

“Now we have between five and ten people coming just about every night,” he said.

At any given practice, the boxing team’s agenda usually includes heavy-bag hitting, jumping rope, technique training with focus-mitts and some sparring to wrap up the workouts. However, Olson said, the workouts are no stroll in the park.

“It’s the hardest sport I’ve ever done,” he said.

Junior Brandon Rausch, a jujitsu competitor for 13 years, took up boxing five years ago to become better at punching. He now divides his workout time between jujitsu and boxing.

“It’s kind of an addiction,” said Rausch, a psychology major. “Once you start you don’t want to stop.”

While many of the boxing club’s members have been participating for multiple years, anyone, regardless of skill, can join if he or she is interested.

“It’s fun to watch. In one night, someone can get ten times better at throwing a punch,” said Olson. “If you want to get really serious about it, it’ll take a few weeks to really get into.”

Senior dairy management major Donovan Halajian is an example. Not knowing the sport, but eager to learn, Halajian joined the club four years ago.

“When I came down, I knew nothing about it,” he said. Now, Halajian actively takes part in the club as the current SDSU Boxing Club vice president.

As far as legitimate, in-ring fights, the SDSU boxing club travels to private exhibition locations like Sioux Falls, Grand Forks and different Minnesota locations for competition. Lately, the club has not posted many participants. But expect the club to field multiple participants for their favorite annual bout hosted by the University of South Dakota fraternities in Vermillion in April.

“It’s a real USA Boxing event. I’d say it’s 60 percent frat guys beating the hell out of each other,” said Olson, who is undefeated at the USD fight night. “”Everybody thinks that getting punched hurts so bad-we care more about losing a point.”

Not every SDSU boxing member takes part in matches. A lot of people just come and work out, said Olson. “You can hang out, work out, train and never spar if you don’t want to. That’s perfectly fine.”

“It’s a great cardiovascular workout,” said Halajian. Since joining the club, he has noticed that the training exercises have made him “more fit all around.”

Unlike team sports and many other sporting activities, the boxers at State attribute much of the fondness of their craft to the simplicity and self-sufficient nature of the sport.

“It’s different than other sports-it’s completely individual,” said Olson. He added that the club requires very little to operate.

“People think ‘We have to practice in the shitty Barn basement.’ The nice thing about boxing is you don’t need much equipment.”