SIU students can learn from former Golden Gloves champ

By Gus Bode

SIU students can learn from pro boxer

Former Golden Gloves champ teaches basics of boxing.

Factoid:Students can register for boxing instruction at the Recreation Center Information desk.

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Before any boxer steps into a ring to mercilessly beat his opponent, he needs several months of training and sparring.

But before an SIU student steps into the ring to even spar, he has to step onto the practice mat with 1999 Golden Gloves champion Jihad Baker for basic boxing instruction.

It’s lots of work,” said SIU student Joe Khio while waiting for his chance on the mat with Baker. It looks easy on TV, but it really isn’t.”

Khio is one of 40 to 50 SIU students who come to the martial arts room of the Recreation Center every Monday or Wednesday evening and Tuesday or Thursday afternoon to learn the basic techniques of boxing from Baker.

The students jump rope, hit bags and practice footwork while waiting for their turn to box with Baker. The 31-year-old instructor shadow boxes with the students in front of a mirror while correcting their punching, dodging and footwork.

The majority of students, including many women, are there for the workout rather than the desire to box competitively.

Some of the people that are in the class have intentions of utilizing the skills in a ring,” said intramural assistant director Kathy Guilfoyle. But a majority of the people that have signed up and are going to this program are utilizing it as a workout.”

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But regardless of whether they want to fight or not, all students must register with the USA Boxing Association.

It doesn’t mean you have to compete, it means you can compete,” Baker said to his students after a practice during the spring semester, explaining what membership in USA Boxing means. It doesn’t mean you have to spar, it means you can spar.”

Membership in the association provides students with insurance for sparring and makes them eligible to compete in sanctioned bouts. Students can then, if they desire, individually strut their stuff in competition.

Individualism is, according to Baker, what makes boxing great. A person goes into the ring on their own with no one to blame or praise but themselves.

Boxing gives the individual a chance to shine and to compete,” Baker said. They get up there, and it’s like their own concert.”

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