Knockout: NU Students Take A Shot At Boxing

Jennifer Chen

By Jennifer ChenThe Daily Northwestern

The timer beeps shrilly and, for a second, drowns out every other sound in the gym.

For a second it all disappears: the Nelly on the stereo system, the squeaks of sneakers, the grunts and open-mouthed pants, and the trainer’s shouts to keep up. Then the beep ends. And the sounds of Northwestern Boxing Club practice pick right back up again.

“Let me see ya grill, ya, ya grill ya, ya, ya grill!”

“I had a pizza last night.”

“Oh man, I know what you mean. Keep your hands up.”

“Five minutes left! You guys gotta work! C’Monday, c’Monday, c’mon!”

Held Tuesdays and Saturdays at Ultimate Fitness on Emerson Street, NU Boxing Club classes are intense, hour-long affairs, where students learn, train and sweat together.

With undergraduates and graduates, engineering and history majors, novice and experienced boxers, and about 16 boys and four girls, there is no stereotypical club member.

Club founder and Weinberg sophomore Dan Harpaz created the club in the spring 2006 after finding himself craving an activity that would be competitive, challenging and a little different from martial arts, which he has studied since the age of 5.

“I’ve always been into Thai kickboxing and figured (Western) boxing would appeal to students,” Harpaz said.

“The goals of the club are to provide a sense of camaraderie between students and a really nice team feeling,” he said. “It’s for people who want to learn self defense, get in shape or are serious about boxing. It’s a really nice opportunity for all students.”

The club is the first and only boxing group on campus.

The hour-long class starts off with a jog around the neighborhood, then moves inside for jump roping, calisthenics and technique lessons.

Some days include heavy bag training and shadowboxing, in which boxers practice punching, footwork and defense against imaginary opponents.

“There’s always something new to learn,” Harpaz said.

Boxing practices are essentially private classes taught by Ultimate Fitness trainers. In a deal between the club, NU and Ultimate Fitness, members pay a $90 club due every quarter for biweekly lessons at Ultimate Fitness.

Ultimate Fitness, home of the Evanston Boxing Club, provides the students with facilities, trainers and equipment.

Meanwhile Peter Parcell, director of university club sports, makes sure they “keep things as official as possible,” Harpaz said.

The club plans on having a members-only tournament later in the year, but some of the boxers will have an opportunity to fight at amateur events in Chicago if their trainers feel they are ready.

“You learn a lot, get in great shape and have a lot of fun here,”said Weinberg junior Marshall Miller, who joined the club in the spring. “I learned there’s a lot more to (boxing) than most people think. There’s a lot of strategy, like faking out your opponent and tricking him into moving a certain way. It’s like chess, having to think a few steps ahead.”

But some parts of boxing are still “pretty much what you see on TV,” said McCormick senior Eric Yim.

“It’s tiring. And when you get hit in the face you want to just run away,” Yim said, laughing.

“They’re tough kids,” said trainer Artur Zakharov, 18. “I work with them all the time, and every time they come here, I can see that they have fun.”

Weinberg freshman Jessica Bleyzer said she had never even seen most of the other students before joining the club. Now previously unfamiliar faces are not only friendly, but providing inspiration, help and encouragement.

“We keep each other going,” Bleyzer said.

Reach Jennifer Chen at [email protected]