“Soldiers are Made, Warriors are born”

An In-depth Look at Haskell’s Boxing Club

By L.Marie Avila

It is just before 5pmand the hustle of the University campus is slowing down. Gators are parked back in Winnemucca, and it is taillights time with students and faculty going into their night life. For Pontiac Hall, it is just getting started; for it hosts the home of the Haskell Boxing Club gym. It has since 2003.

The first time I entered the gym I seethe athletes of all shades gearingup.  I met assistant Coach Darren Jacobs of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Haskell Alumni. After introductions I got the ‘ok’ to start visiting the gym to watch and learn.  Soon, head Coach Erik Riley of the Apache Tribearrived and the club was under way. It is a strict routine and dedication I have witnessed ever since.  A saying of Coach Riley is that “Soldiers are made, Warriors are born” and that belief is carried through the club.

Photo of Mioshia “Yosh” Wagoner watching Practice

The east wall of the Haskell Boxing Club accommodates asitting area facing the club, right at the practice zone of mats.  Attached on the south wall is a chalkboard with boxer’s name and weight class. The west wall holds the boxing ring with the Haskell Indian Head above it and the cage that holds club equipment. The north walland finishing the circle, is lined with punching bags and topped off with a mural on the wall of a massive [ba] Native with boxing gloves that was designed by Coach Riley. Ringside banners, and a banner above the equipment cage with the American flag, and an American Indian on it clearly states that this gym has Native pride all over it.

So what happens on a typical night at the gym?  It begins with hype music and a timer that sounds when to switch drill techniques set on 2 minute rounds.  These key instruments play to the end of the training session. The sound of beats and the timer start everyone in form for drills.  The first several classes as a new boxer are to test to see if you really want to bethere.It’s a repeated pattern of calculated steps and single slow punches, frontward and backward up and down the matt.  It is a test of determination and is just the beginning of the elimination process.  There are levels of drills that include how to throw punches, punching techniques and basic defense; moving your head, balance, positioning, but a lot of defense.  While the newcomers are in stance and stepping forward, at any given time in the gym there are many different drillsessions going on as well. All while the more advanced boxers are practicing sparring in the ring.

An hour into it, t-shirts are drenched.  There is no small talk in here, it’s unwritten.  Instead, a constant sound of leather hitting on leather, chains rumbling from punching bag jabs echo through the gym. And the steady sounds of the timer tell the boxers to change drillpositions.  I remember watching a new trainee once. She is walking the line, she fell down, and then got right back up, took off her ‘pink battle’ for breast cancer awareness sweatshirt and got right back into stance.

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