Luis Diaz/Contributing Writer
The FIU Boxing Club is known for tearing through its competition. In last year’s National Championship competition, which was held at the University of Miami, FIU left the competition with both Malaki Barbee and Joshua Ortiz emerging as national champions. This year, the FIU Boxing Club had three representatives in the National Championship Tournament, Valentin Auzanneau, Julian Martinez, and Michael Mauvais, held at the University of Michigan. This squad was so far beyond their competition, the championship bout actually featured two of the Golden Panthers. They spend all year training; getting bigger, faster and stronger. But for their biggest challenger, they won’t be walking out with the Burger King and it won’t be taking place in the MGM Grand. No, the FIU Boxing club now has their sights set on expanding not only their club, but also the sport itself with the end goal of the NCAA recognizing boxing as a sport.
Kittiya Harris, president of the boxing club, is leading this expansion with the help of the other boxers by getting involved with activities on and off campus. You’re likely to find FIU Boxing Club tabling and fundraising in GC or even having some boxing demonstrations in the pit. This program has also joined forces with RHA to stop domestic violence and sexual assault on our campus by becoming advocates of the “It’s On Us” campaign. But to truly see what this team is doing, you’re going to have to expand your view.
According to Harris, FIU will be teaming up with Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami to host a Boxing tournament in South Florida, which will pin Florida’s finest collegiate boxers, head-to-head, right here in Miami. And if you’ve seen Rocky enough times to think you can do this too, Harris has extended an invitation to join the boxing club in their training as they offer classes three times a week to learn how to box and also get in shape.
Why are our Golden Panther Boxers doing so much? Harris says “we are trying to become recognized again by the NCAA and revive college boxing.” What would this recognition mean for our university and the schools around the nation? This acknowledgment would mean schools can give scholarships and proper attention to the sport of boxing. The goal seems enormous, the journey appears long, but for the team that produced national champions without a coach this past April, it is definitely not impossible.