Boxing at the Blockhouse
THE SPORTING SCENE
The lightweight jabbed, jabbed at the bag, crossed with a solid right, and then headed for the showers practicing his footwork all the way. As he left the Blockhouse's third floor boxing room, another boxer danced in and asked, "Hey, kid, you wanta work out a little?"
"No, thanks," the lightweight replied and continued toward the showers.
Once inside the boxing room, the newcomer asked Coach Henry Lamar who the kid was who wouldn't box with him, for he seemed to remember his face from somewhere. When told by Lamar that it was John Bullitt of the English Department, the student blurted, "Oh, my God, I'm in his class!"
Although this is one of these funny coincidences that seems too coincidental to be true, the boxing coach has seen just about everything since he took over in 1931, and he swears that this incident actually occurred last winter.
Thus Bullitt had dashed the fondest dream of every undergraduate to step in the ring with a member of the faculty. Or would it have been a nightmare in this case? Yes, it probably would have; Bullitt, one of Lamar's prize pupils, was the New England Amateud Lightweight Champion back in 1943, and he numbered the National Golden Gloves titlist among his victims.
Runs Informal Program
But a boxer of this caliber doesn't come to the College very often; hence, Lamar emphasizes instruction for the average undergraduate in his daily sessions. "Unless a boy is exceptionally gifted and really wants to," the coach does not prepare his men for the A.A.U. tourneys.
Lamar, himself, was a National A.A.U. champ in 1925-6 and is currently a member of the Massachusetts Boxing Commission.
At the I.A.B., he runs currently what he calls an "informal program," although his office is still lined with pictures of the official teams he coached here from 1931 to 1937. "Any coach likes a team," he remarks as he looks up fondly at reminders of the old days.
The squad was then in a regular league and met such teams as Springfield, New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Yale, M.I.T., and Toronto. But gradually these schools began to give up the sport--one of them because the Crimson defeated it so humiliatingly--an Lamar had to schedule such teams as Princeton, Pennsylvania, Army, and the University of Virginia, his alma mater.
Boxing Dropped in 1937
Trips to these universities made the travelling costs prohibitive, and in 1937 after Lamar had turned in an undefeated record, the H.A.A. was forced to cut out intercollegiate competition in boxing. The sport became intramural from then on, except for a brief period during World War II.
The program worked out by Lamar includes classes at 3, 4, and 5 p.m. every weekday afternoon in the winter. Before Christmas, he stresses fundamentals and conditioning, and his boys rarely enter the ring until after the holidays.
By then, he has divided his group into beginning, intermediate, and advanced sections; and the season comes to a climax annually in March or April with the Yard and House tournaments. When graduate students show interest, he has in the past run University-wide tourneys.
The more interest, the more work there is for the popular coach, of course. But boxing and boys are Lamar's bread and butter, and he can't get too much of either. He thinks that boxing, as well as swimming, is a "must in every boy's education." And looking around his third-floor workout room, Lamar adds, "We have a good crowd already, but we're never too full."