It’s a knockout!

Leaders of the school’s Boxing Club discuss the the return to in-person programming, community service and hopes for the upcoming school year.


Andrew Park

When Michael Lapin ’22 tore the wrapping paper off of his final birthday present, he uncovered a new pair of boxing gloves. Lapin said at the time he had no idea this gift would mark the beginning of a lasting passion. Although Lapin said he watched his older brother box growing up, it was not until he received his own pair of gloves that he became interested in pursuing the sport himself.

“I started boxing when I received [the gloves] on my 10th birthday,” Lapin said. “After that, [my interest in boxing] really [took] off and has really just [grown] from there.”

Lapin resumed the Boxing Club this school year after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the Boxing Club from meeting during their usual weekly time. He said his love for the sport inspired his decision to continue the club this year now that COVID-19 guidelines have been eased by the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

“During my junior year, [Boxing Club faculty sponsor Gabriel Preciado] and I started working on club ideas and how [the club] would work during my senior year,” Lapin said. “I have been boxing most of my life, and I think it is a great source of exercise because it really takes my mind off of other things.”

Lapin hopes he is able to teach new members the important basics on how to defend themselves when it is absolutely crucial. He said he also wants to spread awareness to the other positives about boxing that many people tend to overlook.

“Teaching beginning fighters how to defend themselves in a situation [where] they would need to is a major goal for me,” Lapin said. “Many other skills can also be learned through the sport of boxing as well.”

Former Boxing Club leader Charles Connon ’18 said the club, and the sport of boxing in general, teaches participating students important life skills.

“We used to do some sparring sessions focusing on technique, and that really helped me to get into the combat mentality,” Connon said. “Keeping the proper form, teaching other students and working out weekly definitely helped me with discipline, which is an important skill.”

Connon said he is also proud of the extent to which the Boxing Club helped the community during his time as leader.

“Not only was the Boxing Club a great club to work out with a bunch of friends and maintain that camaraderie, but we were able to raise money for charity through a few fundraisers,” Connon said. “The Boxing Club just does a lot for the community as well as for the students that join, so it’s a great club for all.”

Preciado said students share their passion for boxing at weekly club meetings, but said the group also serves a greater purpose–combatting growing homelessness in Los Angeles.

“We use our club for a cause. It’s not just about training,” Preciado said. “We fight for a cause, and our cause is LA Family Housing. [The club is] always based off of character, discipline and fighting for a root cause of all things. It is not just all about just boxing and sparring.”

Preciado said when the club was first created, he was concerned that the student interest in the club would be low. He said he is now proud to see the club running with a group of active, dedicated members.

“[When] we started the club, [it] had a nice turnout,” Preciado said. “I thought it would dissipate after [older] students graduated, but there was a [new] generation of students who joined the club [after its inception] and wanted to keep it going.”

Preciado said he initially learned the sport as a form of self-defense, but that he has also benefited from boxing in other ways.

“The background that I grew up in was in a very tough neighborhood. I knew I needed something to help me survive,” Preciado said. “[Boxing] really helped me [improve] my self-esteem and lessened my sense of doubt, and I just love how confident I am around others [now].”

Preciado said although he has not boxed professionally, he takes pride in his ability to teach club members fundamental skills in their journey as boxers.

“I was trained when I was young, and I know a few skills, so I help students through the process of learning how to do basic techniques,” Preciado said.

Preciado said the gender makeup of the club has diversified in recent years.

“We had all boys to start off,” Preciado said. “Now [gender] is [broken up] almost 50-50. Last year’s captains were both [girls], so I was really excited for that.”

Boxing Club member Chloe Cho ’23 said she appreciates that more girls are delving into the male-dominated sport of boxing.

“I think it’s great that there are just as many girls as guys,” Cho said. “This is something that’s very positive because I think many people tend to associate boxing with men, but the Boxing Club is showing that this is not the case and that many girls actually have an interest in boxing.”

Cho hopes that by joining the Boxing Club, she will benefit from the life skills that the leaders have mentioned.

“I think discipline is a very important [life skill] that helps people of all ages,” Cho said.

Lapin said he hopes to one day see boxing offered nationwide as a high school sport.

“I think [boxing] should definitely be offered by all schools to students,” Lapin said. “I strongly believe with proper training and equipment, boxing should be a sport at high schools just as much as football is.”