Boxing Club brings SU students together

The Boxing Club brings students from different backgrounds under one roof for fitness, fun and learning.

Joseph Stray decided to start the Syracuse University Boxing Club when he realized there had not been an active club since the 1950s. He poured the knowledge from eight years of boxing into coaching.

Stray began boxing at the North Area Athletic and Education Center, formerly known as Golden Gloves Gym, in Syracuse. He describes his first time in the gym as awkward.

Photo: Jayne Jaramillo

Video: Boxing Club member, Luke Harrigan, is ready for a fight.

“I felt out of my element, out of place,” Stray said. “I didn’t fit in class wise, or racially.”

But Stray proved himself to his coach and his fellow gym mates through his dedication.

“I went Monday through Friday, 3 to 5, everyday. I didn’t skip days,” Stray said. “I was physical and I was a hard worker so I fit in because of my work ethic.”

Stray said he is now an "Open Class Boxer," with 10 fights and hundreds of sparring sessions under his belt. Last summer he won the New York State Championship at the State Fair.

“My understanding of boxing is you don’t walk into a gym and hop into a ring,” he said. “There’s some secret stripes you earn with the coach. There is a science to the game and you can’t just come off the street and fight.”

Stray brings this philosophy to Archbold Gym four times a week, where he is known as "Coach Joe." Stray said he is amazed how the club has brought together students of different backgrounds.

“This wasn’t clear to me in the beginning, but as it’s developing, as I’m interacting, as I’m seeing interactions; I think it’s truly amazing,” he said. “SU Boxing Club is bringing multi-ethnic individuals under one roof, striving for the same goals, interacting with one another and enjoying each other. Where else do you see that? It doesn’t happen in the gym I came from.”

Stray said he understands that the majority of the club is looking for fitness and something fun to do, and are not interested in becoming professional boxers.
“I understand the values that people have,” he said. “The values aren’t to go professional. They’re not fighting to make it out, they’re not fighting for a living.”

For those who do work hard and consistently, however, Stray is willing to give extra attention.

“There are guys that are coming everyday, guys that are working outside the club, guys that are motivated, are dedicated with their school load,” he explained. “I take note of that and work with them more.”

Stray said one member of the club may be ready to get in the ring.

“Luke Harrigan is ready for a fight,” he said. “He has two years of experience under his belt already.”

Stray said it’s not just Harrigan’s experience that means he is ready, it’s also his composure.
“He understands that you don’t go in to throw punches and throw all you have,” Stray said. “Because then you have no gas left in your tank. What’s a Ferrari with no engine? What’s a Ferrari with no gas? Nothing."


USIBA and Boxing Club at Syracuse University


It sounds like it would be a pleasure to welcome your daughter to Boxing Club at Syracuse University. The USIBA does give out scholarships to student boxers. The USIBA is also a part of the National Intamural- Recreation Sports Association or NIRSA. Your daughter will be able to compete as an open class fighter in college boxing and other potential boxing cards.For more information on our parent organizations visit and Syracuse Emeritus Professor Bruce R Hare and former Associate Dean Robert M Colley are endorsing Project Boxing that aims to provide scholarships for student boxers at Syracuse University. If your daughter and yourself are inclined to visit Boxing Club at Syracuse University please do. Let me know if you need any clarification or have further questions.

Girl fight

Coach Stray-

My daughter has been boxing since she was 8 yrs old. She just turned 14 yrs old and is currently attending Coughlin H.S. in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She is an open JO boxer with over 40 bouts under her belt and countless sparring sessions. She is academically a "A" student. My question is through the USIBA are athletic scholarships given out to athlete/boxers? I understand than the difference between the NCBA and the USIBA is that an open fighter can compete in the open division. Is that correct? My daughter has always thought of going to college and its been her focus but she would like to go somewhere were she can continue to compete as an amateur. Thank you for your time and response.

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