"A "genteel tradition" in American college fisticuffs is in the making at the Indoor Athletic Building.
It's the work of Coach Henry Lamar and his two-man staff, who make "box--don't fight!" the password in the third-floor punch-palace in the Blockhouse.
The "game theory" of boxing is what Lamar teaches.
"We try to indoctrinate everyone coming here with the idea they're not supposed to hurt somebody, or to beat somebody," Lamar said yesterday. "They're supposed to learn boxing."
They're trying to outscore their opponents," he explained. "That's my belief of how college boxing should be handled. If treated like that, it is a fine sport--a fine game."
Boxing at Harvard, it must be remembered, is an intramural sport. It had Varsity status until 1933, Lamar said, at which time "we ran out of opponents." Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, M.I.T., and other large schools discontinued ring-wars and the College followed suit.
Part of Winter Program
Since that time, the sport has been carried on as part of the winter athletics program, the "season" lasting from November until April.
This year, upwards of 130 students don the leather mittens every afternoon. Like the rest of Harvard, the sport is minutely organized. Beginners come at three and at four p.m., while the advanced classes work out each day from five to six p.m.
Beginners truly start from the ground up. Footwork is first, Lamar explained. Then he teaches a single blow, the block for that blow, and the counter-punch. Garbed in a black-wool outfit that looks like a cross between Dr. Dentines and Gay Nineties bathing togs, he stands on a podium at one end of the room and drawls instructions to the class. He then demonstrates each blow and its ramifications, and lets the boys try it out on one another.
But there's no carnage.
"Most of the fellows think they're going to box right away," Lamar laughed. On the contrary, beginners are drilled in the rudiments for well over a month before they square off. Advanced students, however, work on the bags and in the ring, wearing protective headgear. And everybody gets calisthenics.
The clientele is varied. Lamar remarked yesterday that many come simply because they like the sport per so.
"Remember," he declared, "you're absolutely on your own. It makes you think and act for yourself." Others view boxing as a challenge, realizing they're somewhat timid and forcing themselves to overcome the timidity by climbing in the ring.