Don’t Pull Any Punches
Brandeis Boxing Club president Sonor Sereeter ’19 talks about the club’s future
“It’s a really nice thing to learn and develop something. It doesn’t have to be boxing; it just turned out that way,” said Brandeis Boxing Club president, Sonor Sereeter ’19, in an interview with the Justice. Sereeter is not the only Brandeis student for whom the boxing club plays an important role. Throughout the years, the club has found a special place in the hearts of many Brandeis students.
The Student Union chartered the Brandeis Boxing Club on May 2, 2010. In an interview with the Justice, Nachum Serota ’14 MA ’15, the second-ever president of the club, reported that the Brandeis Boxing Club achieved club-sport status in 2014.
Serota explained that the process of requesting funding as a chartered club required “being very reliant on people” and added that “becoming a club sport and receiving money directly from Gosman was a little more stable.”
Since its inception, Brandeis Boxing Club has provided two types of practices for its members: on-campus instruction from e-board members and off-campus coaching from professional boxing coaches at the Nonantum Boxing Club, a training facility in Newton, Mass.
The club currently holds conditioning practices on Monday, boxing practices with Nonantum coaches on Tuesday and Thursday and bi-weekly sparring for those with prior boxing experience. This schedule gives members of any level the opportunity to both refine and test their skills.
Jiahui Zhong ’18 joined Brandeis Boxing Club in fall 2017 and attends Monday practices. She told the Justice that, under Sereeter’s instruction, her boxing skills are “thoroughly developed each on-campus session.” Sophia He ’19, who signed up during tabling at a club fair, added, “If you don’t think about what punches you’re throwing, you get hit. I love trying to figure your opponent out.”
Thanks to Serota and his e-board, the club has access to on-campus boxing equipment. Serota remembered that during his senior year, his e-board decided, “We need to have a whole martial arts studio-dojo up there.” The club “requested, implemented and constructed heavy bags. That’s partly why they’re able to have on-campus practices.”
Monique Menezes ’17, president of Brandeis Boxing Club during the 2016-17 season, added that although on-campus practices are a good resource, training also requires equipment such as rings or heavy bags, so the club “wouldn’t have become what it has in a few short years without the help of those at Nonantum.”
Speaking about Brandeis Boxing Club’s history, Serota shared, “From what I understand after speaking with the founding president, Phil Lu, he basically Googled ‘boxing club in the area’ and landed on Nonantum.”
The Justice interviewed Marc Gargaro, a co-founder of Nonantum as well as an AIBA Star 1 amateur boxing coach and a USA Boxing Level 2. Gargaro explained that although now he just “deals with emails when the club will be canceled,” he has always appreciated how Brandeis students are “always learning from what they do. They’re not just showing up to goof around, they’re really learning.” Gargaro added, “It always impressed me. Whenever I come out of the blue and fill in for somebody, … we can tell that they practiced it. They’re good like that, you know.”
Explaining how Nonantum benefits Brandeis Boxing Club, Gargaro said, “Nowadays, everybody’s on YouTube and they’re learning from people that are learning from people that are learning from people.” He shrugged, before continuing, “It’s always good to learn from an established boxing coach, trainer, gym. You always want to learn from a real gym.”
Training at Nonantum primarily focuses on sparring. Sereeter defined sparring as a “developmental thing.” He emphasized that for students, “everything they’ve learned, everything they’re being taught comes to a culmination in sparring. Finally, they see their flaws, what they’re good at, and improve their technique.”
Sereeter also explained that boxing is “an individual sport with the capabilities of what you get from a team.” Monica Aronson ’19, co-captain and communications director for Brandeis Boxing Club, added that as a boxer, “You are dependent on yourself, and in order to succeed you need to stay disciplined.” She said that simply going through the training as a team heeps energize the club members, “Getting through tough workouts together and watching each other improve is rewarding in itself and brings in the team feel to the highly individual sport.”
Boxing is often called the “sweet science,” as it requires finding a perfect balance between hitting and not getting hit. Sereeter explained that the most important thing in boxing is technique. He said, “You’re learning about your own body, your limitations, I would say it’s akin to dancing. It’s less about fighting, more about being aware of where your body is in relation to everything else.”
In addition to learning more about one’s own abilities and restrictions, boxing has life lessons to teach. Gargaro declared, “No matter how out of place you would feel in a boxing ring, that’s even more of a reason to do it. Take chances and learn. Learn how to be in the real world. Boxing will show you how to interact with others and face your fears.”
Serota added that “every place I’ve been boxing, I’ve seen that nobody has an ego. If you start thinking about yourself, you’ll be punched in the face. Everybody can be better than anybody else on any given day.”
“If you’re humble and willing to learn you’ll go far,” said Sereeter. “And, that’s true for everything in life. I’m a firm believer that everything in boxing can be applied to life.”
This has proven true for Menezes, who entered the workforce as an analyst at a healthcare consultant company. She said that although not at all related to her current job, boxing “gave [her] good memories, great friends, and a mental toughness” she can “constantly appreciate.”
Whether one joins for the workout or the social aspect, Brandeis Boxing Club offers a place where students can come together to build confidence, relieve stress and forge friendships.
During his tenure as president, Serota attempted to run a club that “was super welcoming to anybody from anywhere.” Menezes continued this mindset, actively encouraging her friends — including Aronson — to try out boxing.
Moving forward with Brandeis Boxing, Sereeter said that he hopes to “ignite some sort of passion for it, just as I was galvanized to attend basically every single practice.” As former boxing presidents have passed their legacy down the line, and Sereeter wants to do the same.
With an attitude similar to that of Serota, Seereter wants to “leave behind people who are willing to organize a club and who are committed enough to the sport.”
Sending a word of encouragement to Brandeis Boxing Club, Gargaro declared, “I hope they stick with it, I hope they keep at it. I hope they continue, “cause it’s pretty cool.”