Going the Distance: UMass Boxer Demonstrates Strength in Ring and Classroom
“People cannot fathom how much of a mental game boxing is,” says Josue “Josh” Lopez ’13 (legal studies and political science), captain of the UMass Amherst Boxing Team and president of the UMass Amherst Boxing Club. “It is not like the movies where it is glorious and you always win so long as you have that two-minute training scene with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing in the background. …The pressure of engaging in one-on-one battle, where one man gets his hand raised, where there is no second place, only one winner and one loser [is indescribable].”
In high school, Josh played many different sports, but none “fulfilled a certain unexplainable desire.” Once he found boxing – and his current coach, “Rocky” Snow – he was hooked. Together, Josh and Coach Snow revitalized the Boxing Club at UMass, and they founded the intercollegiate UMass Boxing Team in February 2011. The Club has so much interest every semester that club officers have had to implement cut-off date for membership. The Team, on the other hand, is restricted to only those members from the Boxing Club who are “dedicated to the sport and willing to give 100 percent” – and who Coach Snow deems ready for intercollegiate fighting.
In addition to Club practices on campus, Team members travel to Westover Air Reserve Base to train with higher-caliber fighters and members of the armed services each week. “My freshman year, I was training for two hours and driving for more than that to get to practice four or five days a week,” Josh says. “[I took] a 45 minute bus ride and 20 minute car ride to practice for a couple hours, then I’d do another 20 minute car ride and a 45 minute bus ride to get back to school. It was very stressful and time consuming and left me very drained.”
Yet, it is in this demanding and competitive environment that Josh strives: he placed first in his weight class and received All-American status at the Eastern Regional Tournament at Penn State this year, and he took third place, with All-American status, at the National Collegiate Boxing Tournament at West Point in the spring.
Josh’s commitment to boxing is clear: “I eat, breathe, and live the sport,” he says. As such, his training in the ring informs how he acts out of the ring: “Out of the many skills boxing has taught me, the one that, by far, helps me daily and will help me for the rest of my life is dedication.” This dedication is what keeps this first-generation college student on track in the classroom: “I look at my current 3.91 GPA not as a sign of success or something to applaud like most people do, but as a sign of imperfection, as a sign of needing to work that much harder.” He knows that “whenever you are taking a break there is someone else out there who is still working diligently waiting to take your spot,” whether that spot is first in the ring, or first in the classroom.
This desire to succeed and distinguish himself from others is one reason Josh chose to attend UMass: “Some people tried to discourage me from attending UMass because of the larger classroom size since it is such a big university, but I enjoy that type of atmosphere,” he says. “The big classes just distinguish which students are motivated to show up to lecture when there is no attendance being taken and which will go home and do their work when there are no discussions to check the progress of one's work.” Indeed, in his two years at UMass, Josh has made his self-discipline and drive clear, both as an athlete and a scholar. And his appreciation for the sport has grown: “Boxing is just like any other sport,” he jokes “except harder, better, and more rewarding!”
Students interested in joining the Boxing Club or Boxing Team should visit the team’s Campus Pulse website for more information.
Photo: Josue Lopez ’13 and Boxing Team coach Rocky Snow pose after Josh takes first place the Eastern Tournament at Penn State. “I really, truly mean it when I say Coach…[is] like family to me,” Josh says.