By Eric Buller, Guest Columnist
The boxing room in the second floor corner of Withrow Court comes alive every afternoon at 4 p.m. with the sounds of athletes grunting through difficult cardio workouts, the thumping of heavy bags and punching mitts and the scuffling sound of feet bouncing and sliding across the ring canvas.
The two-minute round bell goes off continuously throughout practice, telling the members to move quickly to the next exercise. Sometimes it can barely be heard over the thumping of workout music that keeps everyone motivated.
The Miami University Boxing Club hosts the Miami Collegiate Boxing Invitational each spring. During the event, Miami boxers, who have been training since August, take on competitors from schools across the East and Midwest.
What makes this year's invitational more special is that it is the last one hosted in the fabled Withrow Court Gymnasium. As the maintenance of Withrow Court has become untenable, the University has directed Withrow Court to be demolished this summer to make way for a new residence hall.
The old gym has been the home for the Miami Boxing Club for many years.
"Withrow's Boxing room became my favorite my place on campus very quickly," club president and Miami junior Rahsaan Guyon said. "Since my freshman year as I learned the ropes of college life, the boxing club gave me an outlet for the frustrations of college life. It soon transformed into a passion. Withrow's boxing room is where I sweat and bleed, honing my skills in pursuit of the national title. It's also the place I've made some of my closest friendships on campus."
The Boxing Club has grown to more than 100 students by encouraging recreational membership.
Students are taught basic boxing fundamentals and can participate in all activities up to speed and heavy bag punching and mitt-work. More committed athletes progress to sparring in two-minute rounds against another club member. Top boxers form the competitive team.
When the competitive season ends, club members will begin the transition from Withrow to the new combatives room in Chestnut Fieldhouse.
"For many of us who competed with the Miami Boxing team over the last 20-plus years, Withrow's gritty corner gym was like a second home," Miami boxing alum and former coach Mike Argadine said. "The gym itself was a sanctuary where we bled, sweat and formed lifelong bonds with other students just as crazy as ourselves. The annual home show at Withrow's main gym grew each year as a showcase of the hours of hard work we'd put in just up the stairs. As a coach, I saw Withrow form new friendships and build character for a whole new generation of Miami boxers."