Excited and nervous, that’s how members of the Matador boxing team describe their feelings toward stepping into the ring for the first time.
The boxing team is in its first semester of existence as one of the Associated Students’ sports clubs. The team consists of 22 members, five of which are female. Not one of the team members has ever competed in the ring, but the team is working hard to get ready for competition.
Paul McBurnett, a senior majoring in geology, is the president and coach of the boxing team. McBurnett has been training in different fighting styles since he was 10 years old. He began competing in Muay Thai kickboxing when he was 16 and living in Honolulu.
McBurnett puts his team through heavy training five days a week. The team spars twice a week in Redwood Hall on Thursdays from 9 to 11 p.m. and Sundays 5 to 7 p.m. They also run for one hour three times a week, starting at 6 a.m., followed by an hour of boxing regimens in the boxing studio at the Fitness Centre.
The team has just received funding from A.S. and plans to supplement that money by holding fundraisers.
McBurnett is in the process of trying to arrange a fight for his team next month just before members enter finals week.
“I want them to compete, but I don’t want their GPAs to go down,” McBurnett said.
The team will compete under the Amateur Boxing Association and can fight in any of the amateur competitions by paying the $275 fee. The team is already scheduled to compete in “Fight Night” on Mar. 23, 2008. That competition will include some of the other schools with boxing teams such as San Jose State and Santa Clara.
Several of the team members were introduced to boxing through classes at the Fitness Center.
Marshall Richey, 24, started working out at the boxing gym in 2005 because he wanted to lose weight. He lost 35 pounds and in the process gained a job at the studio. Richey, who is vice president of the club said he is “extremely nervous” about his first fight.
“But, the more you prepare, the more confident you get,” Richey said.
The team has been preparing. Richey said he improves every day through McBurnett, who “teaches you, then makes you apply the skills.”
Jonathan Lim, 20, also learned how to box at the Fitness Centre last year.
“I wanna just get in the ring. I never thought I would compete, but I gotta try it,” Lim said.
Some of the other members of the team were introduced to boxing through their families when they were younger.
Natalie Berwick, 18, is a freshman theater major who said her father was into boxing and she trained with him when she was younger. Berwick said her father is very happy that she is on the boxing team. She played basketball in high school and ran track, but she said her interest in those sports faded.
“I like boxing because it’s individual,” Berwick said. “I like to work hard to improve myself.”
Peter Christianson, 19, is a sophomore majoring in kinesiology and is also treasurer of the boxing team. He has been boxing for about seven years, having started through a program outside of school “to stay out of trouble.” Although he hasn’t competed yet, Christianson said he is “very excited and nervous.”
Christianson believes his training has prepared him for his first fight.
“I didn’t advance as a boxer until I started to train under Paul,” Christianson said.
Matt Jaime, 26, is a junior majoring in math. Jaime said he became interested in boxing through his father and uncles who used to watch pay-per-view fights. He also said he always liked the movie “Rocky” and decided he wanted to try boxing.
“I gloved-up about two years ago,” Jaime said. “But, I was training with guys who didn’t know how to train.”
Jaime said he liked working out at the boxing studio and a member of the boxing team told him he should tryout.
One of the newest members of the team is Lisa Porter, 19, is a sophomore majoring in biology. Porter made it through the tryouts just last month. She said she has had an interest in boxing since she was young but her parents were against it. She took boxing classes in San Diego over the last two summers but has never competed in the ring.
“I’ve never been in a fight,” Porter said. “When I first started sparring, I would apologize when I hit someone.”
Porter is an all-around athlete who competed in volleyball, basketball, cross country, softball and swimming in high school. She tried out for, and made, the CSUN swimming team, but couldn’t fit her studies into the schedule.
Not all of team members will compete in the ring. McBurnett said he thinks he has seven boxers that are ready to fight, but the boxing club officers will make the ultimate decision about who will get into the ring.
“If their best isn’t safe, I can’t allow them to compete,” McBurnett said.
Meanwhile, the team continues to prepare.
“I’ve never seen a group of individuals work as hard as my boys and girls,” McBurnett said.