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May 23, 2004

Boxing Part Of Curriculum At Naval Academy

FROM ANNAPOLIS comes tale of punching and parrying, roundhouse rights and loaded lefts, bloody lips and broken noses.

The United States Naval Academy has made boxing an important part of the curriculum, requiring every male and female midshipman to take an eight week boxing class.

Due to the steadily rising academic requirements and the typically docile upbringing of today’s youth, many plebes (freshmen) arrive at the academy with little to no experience in the martial arts. Thus, the kill-or-be-killed straightforwardness of boxing injects a highly desirable aggressive instinct in these future Navy and Marine officers.

The culmination of the academy’s pugilistic activities is the Brigade Boxing Championship each February, in which crowns the best fighters in the 4200-member brigade. Past champions have included astronauts and admirals, but most famous of all was the epic 1967 championship bout. Oliver North, later a key figure in the Reagan era, bested James Webb, a future secretary of the Navy, in a donnybrook that rivaled Frazier-Ali fights.

The chief boxing instructor for the midshipmen is Philadelphian Jim McNally, who trained in Joe Frazier’s gym way back when. He likes to tell his students, "There's gonna be a lot of blood. That's good. We have a lot of guys who hit the other guy, see blood, and stop and say, 'He's bleeding!' We say, 'That's good. Make him bleed more.' "

Hmm. That kind of training would seem to erode any timid tendencies.

It’s funny that boxing hasn’t caught on much as an intercollegiate sport.

(this 250 word excerpt—with added straight-up slant, was distilled from a 3619 word article in the Washington Post of 5-23-04)