By Richard Gallery ’55
In 1948, the first class, of a little more than 130 men, was established. I joined in 1951. There was a Rifle and Pistol Club in Easton, where many men from Stonehill exercised. In fact, in the early yearbooks, under their pictures, they are identified as members of the club. This facility also had a boxing ring and that, in my mind, is how boxing began at Stonehill.
A ring, borrowed from the club, was set up in the indoor tennis facility (which served as the gym) on campus—now Alumni Hall—for boxing tournaments. After the fights, the members returned the ring to the Rifle and Pistol Club.
The fights were Stonehill against any other college that dared to challenge us. We won many more than we lost. The winner of each intramural weight class would be the College’s representative in the intercollegiate tournament.
The gym was always full for these events, because boxing had become a huge attraction. Rocky Marciano of Brockton, the world’s only undefeated heavyweight boxing champion, refereed the first years of our tournaments.
We had an advantage over other schools because we had some older, experienced fighters, but many were kids like me who learned from our fellow upper classmates. I myself will always be thankful to Brother Joseph Faul, C.S.C. for teaching me how to box and defend myself. In sparring with him, he was so fast that I could never connect. He would always say, “Keep your hands open and save your energy for defense.”
President Francis Boland, C.S.C., was a silent supporter of the event. I know because, on more than one occasion, I met with him in his office in the “Big House” (Donahue Hall) to discuss whether we boxers were prepared. He also confessed that he was concerned, because the College didn’t have insurance, if someone got hurt in the ring.
Professor James Cleary was the boxing coordinator. Joseph Cheney was the athletic director and bell ringer. Timothy Cremin ’53 was in charge of the boxing committee for his four years.
At one time in 1954, Tommy Collins, a professional lightweight boxer, trained on campus, but after a month Fr. Boland stopped it. He thought that too many shady characters were walking around campus. He was right.
In 1955 the last fight was fought. I know because I fought that last heavyweight fight. The next year, Fr. Boland stepped down, and the new president, Fr. James Sheehan, C.S.C., stopped the boxing tournaments
We former student boxers are in our 80s now, some deceased but hopefully not forgotten. Through our efforts, we helped spread the name of this new college. We won more fights than we lost against established schools, causing people to say, “Where is Stonehill College?”
According to Fulfilling a Dream, Stonehill College 1948-1998 by Richard Gribble, C.S.C., boxing officially came to Stonehill in 1950. An annual boxing exhibition followed for several years after, until it ended in 1956 due to “inadequate facilities.”
Photo above courtesy of Stonehill Archives. Email email@example.com if you can identify these boxers.
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