Blood splattered across the shoulders of boxer Robert Z. Cai ’14 on Wednesday night as he continued throwing punches despite a bleeding nose.
Over the course of 11 match-ups during the fifth Kenneth Moskow Memorial Fight Night on Wednesday, Cai’s was the most notable bloody nose of the evening.
“I’m a bleeder, I bleed easily,” Cai said after the match, adding that “we fight hard today since we’re fighting for the public, but we wouldn’t go quite so hard in sparring.”
Fight Night—an annual showcase of the Harvard Boxing Club—moved from the Malkin Athletic Center for the first time this year, to the more public, open-air tent that is currently set up over the newly renovated Science Center Plaza. At the event, the Boxing Club collected donations for the One Fund, a campaign started by Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 and Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino to support those hurt by the Boston Marathon bombings.
Students, faculty, and community members paused to watch the fights as they passed by the elevated boxing ring.
Kyle K. Courtney, a librarian at the Law School, said he was surprised by the location.
“There was an email that said that this was going to be at the Science Center, so I was wondering if it was going to be inside the Science Center, but then I saw the trucks bring out the platform this morning on my way to work,” he said. “If this is the result of the Science Center being redone, I’m all for the Plaza. I’m a fan of this sport, and always love to see it live.”
Boxers were announced by their fight name, hometown, and a brief musical snippet of their choice. The fans cheered on their friends, teammates, and teachers by chanting the nicknames of the fighters.
“Traditionally in any fight sport, you get to pick your own fight name and a fight song,” said Cai, who goes by 'Supafly.' “They can mean something to you or it can be funny. I wanted to be funny, so my fight song is the Harlem Shake.”
Boxers have had a place at Harvard since the 1870s. One of the University’s most famous fighters was Theodore Roosevelt, Class of 1880, and the sport was a requirement during World War II. Although house boxing tournaments were suspended in 1976 due to uncontrollably rowdy crowds, Wednesday night’s spectators were more respectful.
“When you think about boxing and Harvard, they occupy two different spheres,” said Brandon Ogbunu, a postdoctoral fellow in the organismic and evolutionary biology department who spent five years coaching boxing at Yale. “Harvard is civilized and sophisticated, and [many think] boxing is the opposite. To people who know the history of the sport, though, that’s not true.”
Boxer and extension school student Mencius 'El Matador' Hicks agreed that the sport is reflective of traditional Harvard values.
“It is a good way to get in shape and to do something competitive,” Hicks said. “Boxing is a test of courage and an excellent metaphor for how you handle pressure.”