A long legacy of winning boxers continues as the Western Boxing Club brought home two 2022 United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) National Championship titles. The champions were coached by Tom “T.J.” Barber. The boxing legend brought his expertise to Western Colorado University in 1972 when he started the club. Just two years after the club began, Barber’s team brought home two state champions, four second place titles, three third place titles and won the state team championship. Since then, the boxing club has been no stranger to winning.
Pursuing a Passion
After competing in the National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, senior Garrett Lane is the USIBA 2022 201-pound Beginner/Novice class champion. He started boxing as a senior in high school and fell in love with the sport.
“I think when I was 18 it was more just something to prove,” said Lane. “But now I do it for the mental benefits.”
Lane said he has enjoyed learning to move in ways he didn’t before in boxing. Lane’s plan after graduation is to continue working as a contractor for his current internship, but he holds the club close to him.
“I just don’t think I could give enough credit to Coach Tom,” said Lane. “There were moments during our training for nationals where we couldn’t practice together because we didn’t have a space. Coach would call me every day to hold me accountable and keep me going.”
Finding the Right University
Club President and junior, Daniel McCord, brought home the USIBA 2022 154-pound Open Class National Championship title. McCord began his boxing career as a sophomore in high school, but, like Lane, didn’t start competing until his senior year as well.
“I was looking for something new to do and just followed a buddy to the gym,” said McCord. “Since then, the sport has taught me quite a bit.”
After visiting Western as a senior and touring the campus with coach Barber, McCord made his decision to come to Western and compete with the boxing club.
“There aren’t a lot of schools that have boxing available, so it was a rare find,” said Mccord. He said he stays in the sport to feel the rewards.
“It’s just a really hard sport and takes a lot of dedication, so winning feels really good,” said McCord.
Although McCord is dedicated to his competition, he finds additional payoff in his role as the president of the club, such as acquiring leadership and organizational skills. Additionally, the two champions say they’ve benefited most from sparing each other.
“Coach Tom says when a heavy weight spars with a middle weight, the heavy weight gets faster and the middle weight gets stronger,” said Lane. “I think when you watch the fights you can really see that play out. There was no one stranger than Danny, he was pushing all of his guys back. No problem.”
While he’s proud of both the champions for winning their titles, Barber said the goal of the Western Boxing Club is not just winning.
“It was a success because we won, but it would’ve been a success if we lost, too,” said Barber.
“The most important things are not accomplishments. It’s what inside that’s important.”
Though their national titles are an exceptional accomplishment, the boys hope to continue their winning streak in the 2022 Colorado Golden Gloves tournament in June 2022.
Learn more about Western’s Club Sports.
Author Credit: Kinlee Whitney
Photo Credit: Tom Barber