On the wall where the Michigan boxing club practices there is a sign that reads, “Rest makes cowards out of men.”
This belief is applied to both the club”s training and boxing. Never quit, never rest. With six fights this semester and four practices a week, the team isn”t given much chance to do either.
Saturday evening, Michigan hosted an invitational event including boxers from Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Kent and Kentucky that featured 16 three-round fights ranging in weight class from 125 pounds to heavyweight.
Michigan coach Tony Sensola liked how his team boxed never quitting, fighting hard. He felt the night helped prepare his team for regionals in March.
“We had heart, nobody quit,” Sensola said. “We will have to work on conditioning, but it is early in the season so you kind of expect that.”
The night was one of mixed results for the Michigan boxing club, as it went 5-5 and lost its last two fights by decision.
Ted Swanson, who fought in the 185 pound weight class, was one of the five victorious Michigan fighters. He dominated Bobby Greg of Kent from the bell, accidentally taking his opponent to the ground with a clothesline tackle at one point in the first round.
Swanson carried his first-round momentum into the second round, where in less then a minute he drove his opponent across the ring with 10 solid body and head punches that left Greg vulnerable.
“He was running at me so I threw a jab that got him, then a cross that landed square and that ended it,” Swanson said.
Heavyweight Luke Smith lost to Mike Barrett of Western Michigan in a two-man donnybrook. Barrett knocked Smith down in the first round with a hook to the side of the head that caught him by surprise.
Collegiate boxers wear protective headgear, but these helmets provide only a limited amount of protection.
“A punch to the head smacks your brain against your skull and it takes your brain a second to catch up,” said Smith. “It makes you kind of blackout for a second and then you open your eyes again and you”re lying on the mat.” But despite this brain-jarring experience, Smith lasted the entire six minutes and at some points appeared to have the advantage.
Michigan”s Steve Kim, participating in his first bout since tearing his ACL three years ago, lost to James Manuel of Miami (Ohio) in the 165 pound weight class. Kim described the fighting experience as draining.
“The first round isn”t bad. The second isn”t too long, but by the third round you are so tired everything just slows down. When you feel pain everything moves slow and becomes harder to do, everything sucks the energy out of you,” Kim said.
But the two things that the Michigan boxers never did Saturday were quit or rest.