Every weekday at 5 p.m., members of University Boxing can be found sparring in a Belmont room.
University Boxing took its first step toward becoming an official recreational sport at UT in January, more than a decade after its initial founding in 2007. The UT RecSports screening process is a series of stages clubs must undergo to ensure they meet RecSports’ criteria. The process consists of several meetings to prove that team is well organized, would benefit from becoming a official UT recreational sport and more.
While all sport teams must complete the process, University Boxing co-president Joe Vasquez Jr. said this process has been especially strenuous because of boxing being a combat sport and the need to ensure student safety. Despite this, Vasquez, a marketing senior, said the opportunity to be recognized as an official recreational sport will be worthwhile.
”College boxing is on the rise and in order to grow it in Texas, this is one of the steps we need to keep it going,” Vasquez said. “Right now students aren’t aware of us and if RecSports puts us out there, it creates a better environment to grow martial arts.”
Neuroscience junior Vikas Ravi has been a University Boxing member since the fall semester of 2018. Ravi said he prefers boxing compared to a traditional workout because it is more cognitive and forces him to focus on his technique.
“Boxing pushed me way further than working out on my own ever had,” Ravi said. “I remember the first time I sparred, I got hit in the face and, at the same time, punched someone else. It felt good and after that I was like, I want more of that.”
Prior to joining the boxing club, exercise science sophomore Alejandra Gutierrez said she was not athletic. Coming to college Gutierrez had a few boxing lessons under her belt and now, after a year of consistent training, she said she now feels like she belongs in the sport.
“(Boxing) changed my character,” Gutierrez said. “I have more confidence because I know if I can show up to practice, and push myself physically, then I can do well in academics.”
Gutierrez said that being in a male-dominated sport has only made her more competitive and eager to push herself to a new level.
Another member of the team, Plan II biology freshman Elaine Fung said the male majority has lent itself to positive experiences as well.
“Being a female in a male-dominated sport, I’ve never experienced anything sexist directed towards me,” said Fung. “I joined the club by myself and I never thought of it as something that would be bothersome or a difficulty for me.”
Fung attributes her positive relationship with her team members to the club’s encouraging nature. While Vasquez and Michael Mollenhauer, co-president and physics senior, are certified coaches, members also often help each other during practice, which members say allows for the sport to feel like a team effort despite it being an individual sport.
“Being collaborative was the number one priority for the club because if we don’t have that, then no one grows,” said Vasquez. “We are all here for a common purpose so fostering that environment grows the sport, grows the club and grows everyone individually in their skill set.”