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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Dodging cars and ducking punches: A look into GW boxing

What happens in this fight club stays in the Lerner garage.
A+GW+Club+Boxing+member+blocks+a+blow+from+an+opponent.
Tanner Nalley | Photographer
A GW Club Boxing member blocks a blow from an opponent.

With hands wrapped in cyan, green and red boxing tape, members of GW Club Boxing threw punches and blocks at phantom opponents as they warmed up for practice.

That is, until a voice cut through the sound of sneakers scuffing on concrete and a hype playlist — studded with songs like “Lean Back” by Terror Squad, “California Gurls” by Katy Perry and songs from the “Oppenheimer” soundtrack — yelling, “Car!” Dodging blows from opponents and oncoming vehicles is a normal occurrence for GW Club Boxing — after all, most of their practices take place on level one of the Lerner Health and Wellness Center parking garage.

The team, made up of 20 to 30 people who regularly go to meetings, is used to the slanted ramp and concrete terrain that makes up their unusual practice space. Both captains of the club — Jatin Nayyar, a senior studying business administration with a concentration in sports management, and Ian McHugh, a junior studying economics, attributed the less-than-ideal practice location to a lack of funding from the Student Association. McHugh said the team has grown accustomed to the matless space, especially after formerly practicing in the Shenkman Hall garage.

“For now, we’re doing the best we can with, you know, what the school allows us to do,” McHugh said.

Boxing Officer Noah Kleinlehrer, a sophomore studying religion and political science, said GW Club Boxing is meant for members of all levels, emphasizing a supportive community for members to make connections with each other, not just with their fists. Mixed in with interval training, cardio and stretching, team officers incorporate games such as head, shoulders, knees and gloves, a relay boxing workout, and an exercise involving the team doing squats to the rhythm of “Bring Sally Up,” a popular interactive workout melody.

Social Media Officer Imani Granville, a junior majoring in cognitive neuroscience, said these activities help foster a greater sense of community.

“It makes it more homey,” Granville said. “It makes it less serious, like, ‘It’s okay, we’re here to have fun.’”

This notion rings true for new members like sophomore biology major Meghan Brink, who joined GW Club Boxing this year as a way to branch out. Brink said she knew nothing about boxing before signing up, but the responsive and welcoming nature of the group makes learning the sport enjoyable. 

“It’s a very inclusive atmosphere because some people here are really good at boxing, some people are not, like myself, so it just makes me feel comfortable and safe to learn,” Brink said.

El Guichet, a sophomore double majoring in English and psychology, said she was intimidated to join GW Club Boxing her freshman year, especially because she had no prior experience. However, only a few weeks into the season, she said she already feels connected with fellow boxers. 

“There’s a special sort of relationship that forms when you’re kind of beating each other up,” Guichet said. “There’s a bit of adrenaline that happens when you’re all up in each other’s faces and throwing punches and trying to dodge around that. I don’t think you get that at other orgs.” 

Nayyar said the opportunity to mentor team members is also a rewarding aspect of the team, especially when they’re his friends. As an officer his sophomore year, a friend told Nayyar to keep an eye out for his fraternity brother, McHugh, who is now Nayyar’s co-captain.

“I see how much effort he’s putting in and how much passion he has for it, and it kind of reminded me of myself when I first started boxing,” Nayyar said. “So I was like, ‘Let me take him in, let me teach him on the side a little more stuff.’” 

Nayyar’s mentorship of McHugh paid off after McHugh’s first win in a match at Georgetown his freshman year. Nayyar remembers picking McHugh up in excitement, despite his soreness from his own match.

Nayyar’s role as a teacher for team members starkly contrasts his origins as a boxer, which, ironically, also took place in a garage. In 2018, after the loss of someone close to his family — a person he saw fragments of himself in — Nayyar said he had a surplus of pent-up anger that needed an avenue for release. After a discussion with his mom, Nayyar said he bought $20 boxing gloves on Amazon, created a makeshift garage setup and turned to YouTube to learn how to box. 

“For me, mental health was the reason I started boxing,” Nayyar said. “When I punch, I always think, ‘I’m punching through the bag; I’m punching through the emotion,’ rather than at the bag.”

Nayyar takes this cathartic release of “controlled aggression” and uses it when mentoring younger boxers on the team. Nayyar, along with fellow GW Club Boxing officers, are in charge of teaching members the basics of the sport, with a particular focus on building fundamentals through drills like footwork and shadowboxing before ending with sparring.

New to the organization this semester is the implementation of a fight team composed of 16 people so far who made it through a physically demanding tryout consisting of a mile run that had to be completed in under eight minutes, ten straight minutes of jumping rope, and 100 crunches and other exercises, Nayyar said.

He said the fight team will start extra practices on the second level of the Lerner parking garage to work on more advanced skills and implement a more regimented practice session, as opposed to the more “stationary” techniques they practice with the rest of the team. Additionally, fight team members will have the chance to compete against other schools through collegiate boxing matches, usually occurring around three times per semester, and will help with coaching of non-fight team members, who will not compete in the matches.

While GW Club Boxing is a practice-heavy sport, the bonds that members share extend beyond the confines of the parking garage. Whether it be through team cookouts or mixers with GW’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Club Climbing teams, McHugh and Nayyar said out-of-practice fun is a regular occurrence.

“If it wasn’t for the boxing team, I wouldn’t be at this point in my life,” Nayyar said. “It’s given me all these friendships. It’s given me a lot of different perspectives, too. We’re all people.”

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