Stepping into the boxing ring on April 23, Camilla Sigmund (COL ’23) had four goals on her mind: avoid a concussion, keep her footwork strong, breathe slowly, and prevent her opponent from catching a rest during the fight’s three rounds.
It worked. Sigmund’s fight against Towson’s Taylor Chaney was a masterclass. Chaney stalked forward, flailing with clumsy thrusts. But her outstretched arms left her exposed—and Sigmund punished the poor habit brutally. Soon Sigmund was stalking forward, weaving, bobbing, and unleashing heavy-bag combinations as Chaney stumbled back. Jab. Jab. Slip-jab. Weave, slip, rip-rip to the body, jab upstairs—the onslaught crested like a wave. The referee’s stoppage in Round 3 was a mercy.
On the sunny Saturday afternoon, a crowd of about 150 students and visitors gathered on Healy Lawn for GU Club Boxing’s annual showcase. The event featured students from Georgetown and three nearby schools, George Washington University, Towson University, and the University of Maryland, fighting in a series of eight matches. Three Georgetown students—Sigmund, Marcus Dreux (COL ’22), and Ryan Meehan (COL ’24)—were on the fight card. For an often underpublicized sport, Saturday’s event was a chance for members of the club boxing team to show off their skills for the Georgetown community (as well as visiting GAAP prospective students) and allow viewers to learn more about one of campus’ most exciting club sports.
Overall, the afternoon was a striking success for the club and its fighters. For Dreux, Saturday was also a chance to reflect on the impact boxing had on his time at Georgetown. “It meant so much to me my freshman year just to have a space,” he said after his fight, explaining his long-term commitment to boxing. Club Boxing’s goal, he concluded, is to create a space for students to enjoy a high-intensity sport as a break from Georgetown’s academic and social rigors. For Dreux and the other members of the club, the ring provides that space.
Club Boxing boasts robust participation. Though there’s no expectation that anyone makes all four meetings the club hosts per week, a group of about 60-65 students consistently attend. Each practice entails a combination of jump rope, shadowboxing, mitts and gloves, and sparring sessions.
Sigmund, the club’s president, said that the team’s appeal is centered on both the benefits of working out and the one-of-a-kind environment boxing provides. Despite its emphasis on competition, the club is strikingly uncompetitive in its makeup and social life. The sport’s nature also provides an easy way to call out bad behavior in the club. “If you act poorly, then you show up to sparring, and you get hit in the face a lot,” Sigmund said. “You perhaps think, maybe I should change my behavior slightly.”
The club’s relaxed atmosphere is also a draw for many students in the midst of Georgetown’s oftentimes competitive club sports scene. “It’s a reprieve for a lot of people from the culture on this campus that’s about status competition, competition for jobs, or GPA, that’s something I’ve heard from a lot of people. But beyond that, I think people are drawn to it because they think it’ll be cool,” Sigmund said. “I mean, you get to punch stuff.”
Like so many Georgetown extracurriculars, club boxing struggled during the pandemic, unable to practice in any capacity over the 2020-21 school year. However, their woes did not stop when they returned to campus. Their pre-pandemic practice space—Bulldog Alley—was now a classroom. The team faced uncertainty from its lack of permanent space, bouncing through several outdoor spaces before finally getting permission to return to Bulldog Alley in February 2022.
Despite these challenges, Club Boxing survived the pandemic and was able to revive the annual showcase event for its seventh iteration on Saturday.
On the 23rd, the fights lasted three rounds, two minutes each, and ringside judges scored each round to determine a winner. A fight ended either with a judge’s decision or by knockout. A few minutes after Sigmund’s triumph, Georgetown’s second fighter, Meehan, stepped into the ring in his amateur debut against GW’s Ian McHugh.
These men went to war. There was no pretense of a friendly exhibition here—both fighters swung with everything they had. McHugh came out in a heady rage, and at first, Meehan was blindsided by his aggression, struggling to break out from under a flurry of hooks. At last, he found his rhythm by weaving under a punch, pivoting out, and slamming McHugh with a hook so hard it sent the man stumbling through the ropes.
Soon, it was Meehan cracking the hard blows, Meehan pushing the tempo, and Meehan landing his flurries more regularly. All McHugh had for him was the occasional stiff jab and counter cross. By the end of the three rounds, McHugh’s face looked like an impressionist painting. But, controversially, the judges gave it to McHugh, drawing fervent boos from the Georgetown crowd.
Two other fights followed before Georgetown’s Dreux stepped into the ring for the climactic finish to the afternoon: his matchup against GW’s 200-pound undefeated fighter, Emmanuel Babalola.
Despite a few spurts of success for Babalola early on, Dreux quickly dominated the fight. He was light on his feet, battering Babalola with jabs and long hooks and cruising out of range before his slower-footed opponent could muster a response. Dreux parried and dodged the brunt of Babalola’s efforts with little difficulty. Late in the second, Dreux detonated a fight-ending cross atop Babalola’s right eye, leaving the GW man cringing and stumbling backward. Dreux poured on an avalanche of fists. The referee stopped the fight and deemed Babalola unfit to continue—his eye had swollen up so he could hardly see.
Georgetown’s boxing day ended successfully with two wins and one (highly contested) loss, a fine showing. But perhaps more important was club boxing cementing its presence on campus.
“We now have a foundation, which is something we were struggling with in COVID, and today was just the cherry on top of the sundae,” Dreux said after the fight. “I was more focused on making sure we had good people who wanted to keep it going, and I’m really just glad we still have a club.”