FEATURE: Club Boxing Breaks Out

COURTESY CAROLINE SARDA

COURTESY CAROLINE SARDA

Existing in relative obscurity for seven years, the club boxing team practiced in the shadows of Bulldog Alley, its events rarely attended or noticed.

Two weeks ago, the team saw its best showing — both in terms of crowd and performance — in its short time on the Hilltop.

Putting on a show in front over more than 200 students gathered around Harbin Patio, a quartet of Hoyas competed and showcased their unique blend of athleticism and mental toughness in the club’s fifth annual on-campus fight.

The four Hoyas who competed in the Georgetown Club Boxing Showcase saw great results, cementing improvement in the club’s growth and success in the ring. Sophomore Theresa Marie Romualdez and senior Tino Castanon made victorious debuts, while sophomore Aaron Vanya defeated her crosstown rival opponent from George Washington University. Junior Mike Hou, sparring against a University of Maryland opponent, fell in a close bout.

These admirable performances in the ring came as a result of a solid foundation of preparation and training — an ethos spearheaded by Coach John Garry. Vanya credited his coach as the driving force behind Club Boxing’s success.

“Coach John is really the rock of the team. He guides all of us in what we need to work on and how to do it. Our preparation was inspired by his instruction and his example; we knew what to work on and we worked hard on it,” Vanya said.

Garry’s influence made an especially strong mark on Romualdez, who relied on top-shelf conditioning to overcome a shaky first round. Although they are not required by Coach Garry or club boxing captains, conditioning exercises served as the deciding factor in Romualdez’s bout. Her insistence on transcending the expected training regiment speaks to both Garry’s impact and Romualdez’s own personal determination.

In addition to their level of preparation, those in the ring fed off the adrenaline of the crowd, as over 200 Hoyas packed around the ring on Harbin Patio.

“By the third round, I felt so much better. I felt like I was moving a lot faster and being a lot smoother,” Romualdez said. “I think that also the crowd picked up towards the second and third round, and it was exhilarating. I could hear people shouting my name and I was like, ‘Well I have to keep going now.’”

Backed by numerous friends in the audience, Vanya remained unflustered through his opponent’s aggressive moments. For Vanya, the presence of the Hoya faithful was both motivating and vindicating.

“It was honestly a really touching experience to leave the ring and see everyone so excited for me. The atmosphere of it all was great. Georgetown showed a lot of school pride in cheering for our fighters,” Vanya said. “As a club, we train really hard, but we aren’t always recognized for it; I think the showcase redeems that a bit.”

Vanya’s training, combined with inspiration from the crowd, culminated in a performance that Romualdez deemed Georgetown’s most impressive.

“It’s really fun to watch him box because he moves so fast, and I trained a lot with him so that helped me,” Romualdez said. “I think watching his fight was really exciting and he [is] really skilled.”

As the members of club boxing continue to win in the ring and attract new members, the sport sport has an even stronger foundation upon which to thrive for years to come. Both Vanya and Romualdez are very optimistic about the organization’s future.

“Boxing is looking forward to the USIBA National Tournament in the spring,” Vanya said. “We’ll be going to Virginia this year with a handful of fighters and hopefully claiming some more belts.”

Given precipitous past growth, Romualdez is confident that it can continue.

“I feel like [Club Boxing] is going to get a lot bigger. We’ve been expanding so much in the past year and a lot of people are consistently coming, which is great,” Romualdez said.

Part of club boxing’s future and growth as an organization is a commitment to giving back to the Washington area as a whole. The team hosted a booth at this year’s Fall Fest in which students were able to train with members of the team, in hopes of instilling an interest in the sport in children at a young age. These efforts to give back are a central focus of the club’s philanthropic mission.

“We are hoping to do a lot more community service,” Romualdez said. “Two members of our team worked with a school in Columbia Heights where they would consistently go and teach kids how to box.”

Romualdez also occupies a unique role in just her second year on the boxing team. She is a female holding an executive board position in a sport typically identified as masculine. After performing well in the ring, Romualdez credited her success to her wish to remove any stigma attached to women and boxing.

“The gender norms and stereotypes still affect us, but there’s so much solidarity on the team,” Romualdez said. “[The stigma] pushed me to join more, not because I have something to prove, but because I can do this. There’s nothing stopping me.”

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