A University ban on competitive boxing will prevent the Harvard Boxing Club from hosting a charity match to raise money to aid African athletes, the club's co-captain said yesterday.
Dennis A. Clarke '90 said Box for Africa--which uses proceeds from such competitions to help aspiring athletes in Africa and their nations' economies--approached the club earlier this year to ask it to organize a benefit.
But Intramural Athletic Director John Wentzell told club members this week that they could not participate in the benefit because of an athletic department policy prohibiting competitive boxing. "We do not sanction our boxers for live bouts either on or off campus," he said.
Wentzell said the club could instead stage an exhibition, in which members would spar with each other. But, he added, other groups would have to join with the charity group to drum up the interest needed to make money.
Tommy Rosson, coach of the Harvard Boxing Club for 25 years, said competitive boxing has been banned at Harvard since 1961, after the death of a University of Wisconsin boxer prompted the end of intercollegiate boxing.
Since that time, several colleges have revived intercollegiate competition. But the University has kept boxing a non-competitive club sport based on the the suggestion of Arthur L. Boland Jr., head surgeon of the Harvard Athletic Department.
"When you get into a competitive situation you have problems," Boland said. He said repeated blows to the head that occur in competitive boxing candamage the brain.
About 60 students and faculty are members ofthe boxing club, said the 81-year-old coach, aformer professional boxer and a member of theMassachussetts State Boxing Commission. He saidboxers wear protective helmets and use enlargedgloves as safety precautions.
Some boxers in the club said they lament thelack of competitive boxing.
"We want to fight, and the athletic departmentisn't thrilled with the idea of boxing," Clarkesaid. "Competition fulfills what a program issupposed to do, but it just hasn't happened.