Boxing makes its debut at Southwestern

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DeAndre Robinson of Kalamazoo works on the speed bag at SMC. (Leader photo/Provided)

DeAndre Robinson of Kalamazoo works on the speed bag at SMC. (Leader photo/Provided)

Ten young men pummeled speed bags as part of Southwestern Michigan College’s Oct. 8 boxing debut.

This group fitness activity Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. is under the tutelage of Coach Walter Swann.

Swann, using a ring which belonged to Muhammad Ali, trained pugilists for 10 years at Lincoln School/Encore in Dowagiac through the Police Athletic League (PAL).

“Today was the first day. We didn’t know what to expect,” said Student Activity Center Manager Shawn Rawson, who used to train with Swann. “We’re just ‘rolling with the punches.’ We had people here at 3:15.”

Swann barely rang the bell signaling the end of the first “round” when females drifted over from climbing the rock wall to sign up.

Allison Corbin and Kendyl Duffield are both from Coloma and studying for associate in arts degrees.

“I want to try it because I’ve heard it’s a good workout,” Corbin said.

DeAndre Robinson, a first-year psychology student from Kalamazoo Central, boxed before so was glad to see it added to fitness activities.

He liked SMC when a school field trip exposed him to campus.

“I boxed for four or five months in Kalamazoo,” Robinson said. “It’s a good workout and definitely fun.”

Jalen Whitford, a first-year accounting student from Detroit, is new to the “sweet science.”

“I’ve watched my brother,” Whitford said. “I like it already.”

“There’s so much traffic through the building, with an audience constantly feeding into it, it’s going to be a real good chance for someone like Coach Swann to reach out to some of these kids. Half the group could run the trails while the other half boxes. That is why this is such a cool spot. We can take them to the fitness center, too,” Rawson said.

Fitness is a campus initiative, which is why SMC sent the largest team on two buses to the South Bend Color Run.

“We look for programming that’s going to engage a bunch of students in a positive way,” said Rawson, who equipped a multi-purpose room with a beam for boxing, which does not involve sparring contact.

The space is also used for film classes.

“I think this is great, one of the best things that ever happened to this college, having a boxing workout program,” Swann said.

“Working out gives kids a chance to let off pressure they have from classes. This is not my first rodeo.”

A four-year Navy champion, Swann competed at the 1964 Olympic Trials and boxed professionally in California before retiring in 1968 and turning to coaching.

He coached in North Carolina before settling in his wife Alice’s home town, Dowagiac.