Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 01:01
COURTESY TOM QUINN
GRADE A Tom Quinn (C ’55) has made a name for himself in the boxing ring and on the silver screen.
Amid a whir of treadmill belts, the squeak of rubber soles on gym floors and the grunts of frustrated racquetball players, it’s unfortunately all too easy to miss Tom Quinn (C ’55).
The 78-year-old Georgetown graduate swipes GOCards at the front desk of Yates Field House, and most days, students just pass him by, eager to get on their way and work off those calories gained from Chicken Finger Thursday.
What most students don’t know, however, is that Tom Quinn is a fighter. The former NCAA Eastern heavyweight champion is not only a current boxing instructor at Yates, but also — in case his repertoire isn’t impressive enough already — an actor. And hardly anyone seems to know.
Quinn, born in 1934 on Long Island, started boxing in his neighbor, Bobby Boyle’s, backyard when he was five years old. Boyle had received two sets of boxing gloves as a present, and that’s all it took him and his friends to turn his mowed lawn into an amateur boxing ring. Quinn and his best friend Gaylord Worstel were regular participants in those neighborhood spars.
“[Worstel] could beat me at just about everything,” Quinn says. “But I beat him at boxing.”
Quinn came to Georgetown in 1951 and immediately started participating in boxing classes and tournaments. In fact, Quinn’s coach entered him into the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship during his senior year, and Quinn came home with the heavyweight crown.
“The guy I beat went to Syracuse,” he laughed. “He was good friends with Gaylord Worstel.”
Quinn didn’t stop boxing after college. After a year in the Marines and a quick stint on Wall Street, Quinn returned to Washington D.C., and began teaching boxing classes. He remembers one of his recent star pupils, Kaelan Hollon, a lawyer who had just graduated from the University of Kentucky upon beginning lessons. She called Quinn up about three years ago, asking him to train her privately on weekends. Now, thanks to Quinn’s tutelage, she is ranked sixth nationally and transitioning into a career as a professional fighter.
Just in case boxing alone doesn’t take up enough of his time, Quinn also acts on the side. He’s been in more than 35 shows and productions and 10 movies, including the popular TV show “The West Wing” and movies “The Pelican Brief” and “Enemy of the State.” His most recent audition was just a few weeks ago for the role of an Irish bartender in an upcoming Judi Dench movie. He didn’t get the part, but he took it in stride, like the natural fighter he is.
“I think my career may be coming to a close when I can’t get the part as an Irish bartender,” Quinn joked. “Maybe it’s time to give up on acting.”
But Irish barkeep or not, Quinn has a fighting spirit, and that’s something he’s not planning on giving up anytime soon.