Nathan Crock, a graduate student who is leading a revival of the Florida State University (FSU) boxing club, understands the challenge of selling boxing in Tallahassee. But it’s not deterring his efforts to establish a foothold for the sport.
At the same time, Crock and the membership of the fledgling Florida Collegiate Boxing Conference hope they would one day see boxing become a varsity sport.
They take their first step to make an impression on Dec. 1, when the Renegade Boxing Club stages the inaugural Florida Collegiate Boxing Conference Invitational.
It takes place at the Civic Center, featuring fighters from FSU and five other schools that include the University of Miami and the University of Florida.
“We think that is going to speak for itself once we get enough people to see it,” Crock said.
“We want to show people how safe it is and how clean it is with the headgear and the short rounds. It’s the culmination of college rivalry so people are going to get behind something like this.”
Crock said the conference is driven to make boxing a varsity sport because it could become an avenue to a pro career for collegiate athletes who might not make it to the pro level of their sports. Starting as an amateur boxer could be their ticket to a prizefight career, he said.
The timing might be right for such a move, considering that the USOC and USA boxing are considering changes in the national team selection process after the American men’s squad came home without a medal from the London Games.
One option might be to revert to the era when some of the best American amateur boxers came from a college team or the military.
“We want to provide opportunities for people to come to college on scholarships,” Crock said. “We want to change the rules of boxing and take it in a different direction.”
The idea might also gain some leverage from the number of former college athletes who are involved in boxing following the NCAA career.
Most notably of the recent transfers is heavyweight Seth Mitchell, a former Michigan linebacker who is a rising heavyweight prospect.
“It’s something that a lot of people think is going to happen,” Vic Aderhold, who spokesman for the FSU club.
“The other thing, as far as expense goes, college boxing doesn’t compare to football, basketball or baseball. All you need is a pair of gloves and a jockstrap and you’re in. This is their first step.”
Actually the initial step was taken right after Crock and the FSU team faced Miami in on exhibition card in South Florida about four months ago. A meeting between organizers of the event followed and they decided to form the Florida Collegiate Boxing Conference, Crock said.
Not long after, Crock put together a team that leased a building just south of FSU campus and named it Renegade Boxing Club.
They’ve been on a fast track ever since. But they’re in a town where boxing hasn’t resonated to the level that it is in some of the other Florida cities with similar clubs.
Crock believes that could change through the club and the upcoming show.
“The way they could do that is to put on good matches and when people go they’d say this is great entertainment; this is as good as hockey, baseball or tennis or anything else,” Aderhold said.
“Of course, you can’t compare it to football, but I think the more they do it the more people will be exposed to it.”