When the Georgetown University club boxing team returned from the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association National Championships last season, the team was content to take home one individual title belt. After all, the club in its entirety consisted of 40 members, of whom 20 were regularly at practices and only 10 were on the competitive team.
Fast forward one year later, and the number of people on the club boxing team has more than doubled. The team boasts an 80-member mailing list with 40 athletes who show for practice and 25 boxers who compete on Georgetown’s behalf. Coupled with a deeper commitment of individual members, the team was encouraged to dream bigger.
“This year we really changed. It has felt a lot more serious, and a lot more people could be in contention,” Mike Minahan (COL ’16) said. “The goals were to win more this year than had ever been in the past.”
Thus, when this year’s club boxing team competed at the USIBA National event, which was held in Ann Arbor, Mich., and ended on April 11, the team found more success than it ever had. Three boxers, including Minahan, won their divisions and brought home title belts. Sinead Schenk (COL ’17) and Corrina Di Pirro (COL ’17) earned belts on the women’s side.
The team’s confidence was mirrored by the drive of the individual boxers. Minahan entered the event with a 2-0 career record and knew that he wanted to finish first.
“I got a bye … so I got to see all the people who I could possibly be fighting. After that first day, I knew that if I fought OK, I could win,” Minahan said.
Minahan fought in the 165-pound beginner division in his first full year as a member of the team after previously running track and field for Georgetown for three semesters. Both of his bouts went the full three rounds, but the final match ended with a victory granted by judges’ decision.
Entering college, Schenk had no idea that she would be holding a title belt by her sophomore year. She began boxing her freshman year after accidentally taking a boxing class at Yates Field House instead of the kickboxing class she intended to join.
“I saw [the boxing coach] later at Safeway and he said, ‘You should keep doing this. You’re really good,’” Schenk said. “My friend on my floor was in the boxing club and told me about it, so I joined.”
After winning her matchup against a boxer from the United States Military Academy at the Blue and Gray Gloves event in October, Schenk’s teammates had plenty of confidence in her heading into the national championships. Schenk, who fought in the 125-pound novice division, was a little more cautious.
“I wanted to win the whole thing, but I wasn’t sure if I would,” Schenk said. “[The team] really wanted me to win. … They really thought I could, so they wanted me to. It was a lot of pressure.”
In her first fight, Schenk faced Jamie Kosberg, a boxer from Michigan who beat her in last year’s event. Schenk avenged that loss in this year’s rematch, outfighting Kosberg in the first two rounds, though disaster nearly struck in the third.
“The third round she hit me with an eight-count, which is when the ref pauses [the fight] because you’ve been hit too hard. … I was really upset because I had worked so hard and really wanted to get my vengeance.”
In spite of the brief setback, Schenk was able to rebound and eventually came out on top.
“When they announced [that I won] it was the best feeling,” Schenk said.
With only three girls in her bracket, Schenk had to face an opponent coming off of a first-round bye in the championship fight. Her opponent, Cristi Farwick of Cincinatti, had seven wins in eight matches, while Schenk had only fought four times in her career. Despite the mismatch on paper, the result was clear by the end of the match.
“She wasn’t as hard of a fighter. She did keep up a good fight, but I knew I had won at the end,” Schenk said.
That victory, combined with the title earned by DiPirro, propelled the Georgetown women into second place tie with University of Miami. Michigan took home first place honors as a team, but also entered nine fighters into the women’s fighters compared to three for Georgetown. First place honors for the men went to the Virginia Military Institute.
Under the USIBA system, boxers move up in classification from beginner to novice to open after runs of good results. After improving to 4-0, Minahan will make the jump from beginner to novice. His breakdown of his feelings looking forward to next year also describes what could await Georgetown Boxing as a whole after its strong showing this year.
“There will be more of a target on your back when you have that record. When you get matched up, it’s people trying to beat you,” Minahan said. “So it’s going to be harder next year, but I look forward to that challenge.”
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