Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala: A Knockout on the Virginia State University Campus

Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala: A Knockout on the Virginia State University Campus

Article excerpt

The Virginia State University (VSU) Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) hosted its inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala on Friday, November 3, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in Daniel Gymnasium's transformed "boxing arena." The presence of special guest, Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, the former two-time undisputed "Heavyweight Champion of the World" (Vadukul, 2015), added to the hype of the occasion and helped to give it a "big-time," Las Vegas-styled aura. While displaying his self-described, "Big like a truck and smooth like a caddy, that's why they call me, Big Daddy Bowe" persona, this charismatic champion was a "knock-out" on the VSU campus.

Although Bowe, who was invited to participate in the Gala by Anthony Chase (who trained boxers for the last Olympic boxing matches), clearly added pizzazz to the occasion, he was not alone. His appearance and the presence of several other luminaries from the boxing world, brought previously unmatched entertainment and incredible educational value to this historic Gala, which was the first recorded boxing event that had ever been hosted by VSU in its 136 year history.

After the doors opened, the crowd strolled across a "red carpet" into the main area for an elegant dinner that was catered by VSU's Thompson Hospitality staff. The fans' gowns, tuxedos, and other fashionable outfits added flair to the occasion. Ringside and other good seats were occupied by: Bowe, and the aforementioned special guests; general boxing aficionados; sponsors; VSU administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni; and many other enthusiasts.

Prior to the event, Clarence McGill, the announcer for the evening, greeted the audience, VSU's majestic Color Guard posted Colors and the National Anthem was performed in Grammy-worthy style by Celeste Wynn (Administrative Assistant for the HPER Department).

After the bell rang, "Ring Card Girls" from VSU's Trojan Fire Dance Team (Fire) began to signal the start of each round, and fans were treated to seven highly competitive and spectacular bouts that showcased talented amateur boxers (the youngest of whom were eight years old) from the state of Virginia and Washington, D.C.

During Intermission, VSU President, Dr. Makola Abdullah, the 2017 HBCU Digest Male President of the Year, and Bowe addressed fans from inside of the ring and posed with them during "photo opts." Petersburg High School's amazing Marching Band, the DJ, and VSU's captivating Fire, kept fans entertained throughout the break.

The event was sanctioned by USA Boxing, the National Governing Body for the sport of Olympic-style boxing in the United States (USA Boxing, 2017). Seated ringside was the medical doctor for each contest, Dr. Lei Charlton, who is a certified USA boxing physician.

The bouts were also sanctioned by Ninth Dimension Sports Circle (Ninth Dimension, 2013), a local (Richmond, VA) boxing organization, which is owned and operated by Omar Aleem. Several of the fighters were products of his program.

Aleem, who served on the Gala's Planning Committee, has also trained several boxing champions including his two sons, Moshe Aleem and Immanuwel Aleem, and daughter, Hanifa Aleem. (Ninth Dimension Sports Circle, 2017). During the boxing event, Immanuwel, a highly regarded celebrity in his own right, was introduced to the lively crowd. To learn more about Ninth Dimension, search WTVR-TV-2018/01/04 "Hull Street gym saving boxing and lives" to locate a special video and story about that much-needed successful boxing program.

Although VSU's history-making version of "Friday Night Fights," will long be remembered for its chic ambience and exciting bouts, Bowe, and other dignitaries participated in a series of additional academically-related activities. The first gathering was a networking session for members of the Sport Management Majors Club. "In a world where studies show that some 80% of job openings are not advertised and 70% are found through networking," (Olech, 2017), this was a particularly significant session. …

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