Michigan State Boxing Class Pushes Students to the Limit

Oct 3, 2018

Getting sweaty and exhausted isn’t usually on the syllabus of a typical MSU class, unless you are taking the sweet science.

LANSING, Mich. – It’s a Thursday, around 6 p.m. at Crown Boxing Club. There’s a group of sweaty, exhausted-looking people jumping rope and punching boxing bags.       

They’re probably just fighters doing some training, right?

They're Michigan State students, likely with no idea what they were getting into when they enrolled for KIN103 - Intro to Boxing Conditioning. 

Students work out at Crown Boxing Club in Lansing, MI.
Credit Michael Duke

“The class is a lot more than what I expected,” said Luke Brewer, a junior psychology major.

Many of MSU’s kinesiology courses involve physical activity, but few are as physically challenging as this one, which forces tudents to train as if they are preparing for a championship boxing match.

Class activities include: continually jabbing at punching bags, jumping rope, and doing sit-ups while holding medicine balls. Oh, and a handful of push-ups in-between.

Naturally, this would scare off most students. But not Brewer.

“I was kind of motivated by it I guess,” he said. “Once I started it and saw that it was more hardcore, it made me want to do it more.”

The course has two sections. The first meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6:10 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the second on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 6:40 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Ali Easely, course instructor and Crown Boxing owner, described how he structures his rigorous boxing class.

“Basically, what I’ve broken it down to is various, what I would refer to as stations. We have a heavy bag, a double-end bag, a speed bag, sit-ups and the jump rope. Those five stations constitute our intro level class,” Easely said.

Easely makes sure everyone rotates to each section three times, and for good reason.

“In order for a boxing match to be a legal match it has to be a minimum of three rounds,” he said. “It can be anywhere from three rounds to 12. The goal is always to be able to do three rounds at each of the stations, so in a sense that constitutes a fight.”

And there’s one more thing to do, after they finish rotating to all their stations.

“When they’re all done, we get in the ring and do some core exercises,” Easely said.

Easely, a native of Pittsburgh, has taught at MSU since 1998 and helped implement boxing classes. He said, throughout the years, he’s had his fair share of students who’ve dropped the course.

He said every semester about 10 percent of students in each section end up dropping the class. Currently, 18 of 26 student spots are occupied in section 1, and 23 of 25 spots filled in section 2.

Credit Michael Duke

“We get plenty of students that come in and think it’s going to be a class where they get credit for showing up and kicking a ball against the wall,” Easely said. “But when they realize it’s held here, it’s off campus so it’s a little bit of a commitment more than maybe being on campus, and see the difficulty of it and how serious it is, yeah we get plenty of students who drop.”

Easely also teaches the more advanced KIN 103, Level 1 Boxing, which includes a more in-depth teaching of the sport.

“The more involved session involves 12 stations. The stations you witness in the intro class are primarily offensive type stations,” said Easely. “Punching the bag, jump ropes and sit-ups are kind of conditioning. What we do with the next session is we teach all those stations but we also incorporate defensive stations … so it just gets into the sport a little bit more.”

He said students in the upper level course even get to test their boxing skills in the ring.

“We also have had students that have gone on to compete,” Easely said. “For the part two boxing (class), every semester we have a competition that we invite them to take part in, and usually we get anywhere from five to 10 kids to compete in it.”

Easely said students in the lower level course probably expect him to not be as hard on them, because they are not boxers.

“We don’t want to diminish what we’re doing here,” said Easely. “We don’t want to minimize what this gym stands for. Just because you’re a student and you’re coming in here and you think I should give you a gold star or clap my hands for you, no, it’s not like that. In a lot of ways, it’s sort of an old school mentality.”

Matt Fleck, KIN 103 student and senior agribusiness major, has embraced this old school mentality.

“I’m very glad it is as taxing as it is because it kind of pushes me beyond what I would do at a gym on a regular basis,” Fleck, age 22, said. “It kind of keeps me going from one station to the next instead of just kind of sitting on my phone and taking breaks in between lifting weights.”

Fleck, who is in his last semester at MSU, said he enrolled in the class because he had heard good things about it and it also filled his light schedule.

“I kind of wanted to take this class for a while now,” Fleck said. “I had boxing in the back of my mind and I had a buddy who did it and said he liked it quite a bit, so it was kind of right up my alley and I knew it would be a good workout for me.”

Fleck, like Brewer, still had no idea what was in store for him. He is also going to stick the grind out.

“I definitely wanted to keep pushing through … It’s something I’m enjoying so far,” he said.