By Nik Heftman
State Gym is riddled with attractions that make the facility a go- to for students looking to get a good workout. Little do the patrons know that beneath their feet, in the basement of State Gym, resides a breeding ground of life-long friendships, self-confidence, and championship boxing.
“I think it’s curiosity, or an itch, as I call it, that draws most people to combat sports,” said Kyle Maughn, assistant coach of the Iowa State Boxing Team. “They might be scared, but they have to know what it’s like in the ring.”
Until 2011, Iowa State Boxing was nothing more than fading memories. Members of the club rarely competed in local events. Shredded leather boxing gloves sat in damp cardboard boxes. 50 pound heavy punching bags had been reduced to loose remnants of tattered cloth.
The team hadn’t been to the national collegiate boxing tournament since 2007, having been disqualified during that trip. It had been their first trip to national’s in over a decade.
“The club has come a long way in the last 6 or 7 years since Jon Swanson became head coach,” Maughn said. “Our club size has grown each year and we now regularly have 15 boxers training and sparring in the club each night, as well as around 30 beginners graduating from our class each semester.”
Maughn went on to state that under the leadership of Swanson, the club has had a two time National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) champion, as well as several all- Americans. The club had 2 Iowa Golden Gloves champions this past year. Locally, the club is competing at a level never before seen since its establishment in 1925.
“We have created a safe environment where hundreds of students have learned to box and get into shape,” Maughn said. “We have done it while building a very competitive team and representing the Cyclones honorably.”
Head coach John Swanson started helping with the club 10 years ago. He took over in 2011 after the original head coach resigned.
“The club was almost dead in 2010,” said Swanson. “There were no officers around. It wasn’t in a good state.”
Since taking the reigns as head coach, Swanson has steered the club in the right direction having established a boxing class that over 75 students participate in each semester. He’s also replaced much of the old equipment, allowing more newcomers to join the club and participate without the need to buy their own gear.
“We realized we had to revamp the program,” Swanson said. “Since 2012, we’ve made it to nationals every year.”
Swanson’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Swanson and Maughn will be looking forward to another year of success.
“I believe we have been very successful,” said Maughn, “ and things are only going to get better.”