The “sweet science” — a common boxing sobriquet — isn’t one of the majors of study taught at California State University, Northridge. However, some students, like Terrence Harris and Giovanna Miranda, have set out to learn the finer points of the fistic artwork from the campus’ Matador Boxing Team. It’s a path that has led them to gold — they just won their weight and class divisions at the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association’s National Championships in Miami, Florida.
The duo were just two of a group of six that represented CSUN at the Championships, which are given out by the USIBA, a group formed in 2012 by college boxing coaches and student leaders who sought the most ethical, safe and utmost positive experience for their teams. Harris, a business major, captured the men’s 152-pound Beginner division; Miranda, a communication studies student in her third year, found herself hoisting the gold belt in the women’s 152-pound Beginner division.
“After winning the belt, I told my coach and teammates I wanted Yogurtland,” said Miranda, a Boyle Heights native. “After dieting for months, and living behind Yogurtland and other temptations, I was dying for some frozen yogurt. Unfortunately, Miami does not have Yogurtland. They have similar places, but not Yogurtland.”
Harris, on the other hand, had a more tangible after-championship goal.
“The team enjoyed the chaos on South Beach,” he beamed.
According to McArio Del Castillo, the Matador Boxing Team’s president, the team of 15 to 20 boxers train in Redwood Hall 251, and those who want to actually box head over to Nelson’s Boxing Club in North Hollywood to spar. However, the seven-year-old club isn’t just about taking out aggression in the ring.
“The Matador Boxing Team provides an opportunity for those on campus to participate in the sport of boxing, regardless of skill level,” Del Castillo said. “Boxing is not just a sport for those who are super athletic or those who are looked over for their height and weight, but rather it offers anyone a chance to be a part of a sport. We wish to build a sense of community amongst our members.”
Harris and Miranda had different reasons for joining the club. While many of his peers are getting into the octagon of MMA, Harris decided boxing was what he’d pursue “because footwork is more important to fundamentally throw a proper punch and also learn how to defend a common strike.”
While he’d only been boxing for the past seven months (both he and Miranda were recruited by Del Castillo at the Student Recreation Center), she had more of a stake in it.
“I’ve been boxing since I was 10 years old,” she said, “but then I stopped because I became really stressed with school and boxing. Then I found out about the team at CSUN, so I joined it.
“I wanted to box to let all the stress out by punching the bags.“
While the team sweat and boxed their way to Miami — all the while juggling school, life and boxing — in the end, there was joy across the board, even for those who didn’t get a belt.
University life is all about new experiences and seeing where those experiences take you. For six Matadors, that experience was boxing, and where it took them was across the country to a place where most had never been.
“The experience of traveling to another place in the U.S. and leaving our school is a nice feeling. We met people from Maryland, New York, Michigan and North Carolina,” Miranda said. “It was a really fun experience, and I would want to do it again!”