Jon Ohlhauser's pride beams as he takes a visitor on a quick tour of the tucked away gym used by Crandall University's burgeoning boxing club.
A former storage space, just off Crandall's main gymnasium, is equipped with heavy bags, speed bags, an assortment of exercise gear and a regulation boxing ring that fits it snugly with little room to spare.
Ohlhauser, the club's enthusiastic head coach and Crandall's vice-president of academics, smiles and laughs when he shows a hand-printed sign on the gym's front door. It declares humbly and simply that you don't play boxing.
"It's not like any other sport because it's not a game and it's up to you and you alone to determine how much work you want to put in," Ohlhauser said. "You work to develop your skills. It is not play."
The skills of the Crandall boxers will be on display on Saturday afternoon, October 5. The card begins at 2 p.m.
Eight Crandall boxers will square off against cadets from the historic West Point United States military academy of upstate New York. West Point's boxing club is regarded as a powerhouse in the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA).
"This is a great opportunity for our young athletes," Ohlhauser said. "They will get to see how they fare against a very strong team. They will get to measure how much progress they have been making and how they can still improve.
"It's also a chance for our boxers to fight in front of their friends and families," he continued. "There is a lot of excitement building around the campus and our guys are eager to see face these great boxers from West Point."
Crandall's team will feature: Max Morin, Denis Saulnier, Xerxes Alvarado, Dan Flower, Josh Jay, Brad Collicutt and Janzen Ohlhauser.
Morin, a 152-pound welterweight, is looking forward to the competition.
"My expectations are high," said Morin, a 25 year-old native of Nuevo-Laredo, Mexico. "I expect them to be well-prepared due to the military background and due to the face that I fought one of the West Point guys back in February (in the United States)."
Crandall, the only Canadian university to have a team registered in the NCBA, sent a team of boxers to West Point last winter.
"We were pleased with our results," said coach Ohlhauser. "We took four guys and we didn't win a single bout, but two were split-decisions and, overall, our team performed very well. I think we life there very encouraged and we're happy to host them for a re-match in our gym."
Morin, a business student seeking a Master of Organizational Management degree, declared there is "no way" he is losing this fight against his West Point foe.
"Plus," he said, "as I pursue my path to becoming a Canadian citizen, it would be special to beat an American on my new home soil."
The Oct. 5 card, which is open to the general public and Crandall is hoping for a large crowd to fill their gym, will also feature three female bouts and boxers from independent clubs in Moncton, Saint John and Bridgewater, N.S.
Crandall does not currently have any female boxers on its roster, but Ohlhauser hope that will change. The club operates an eight-week "learn to boxing" program for males and females who want to try the sport.
"It's a good chance to see if boxing is for you and it's good for me as a coach to possibly identify more competitive boxers," said Ohlhauser, who retired from active boxing a year ago.
When he came to Crandall in 2016 to assume an academic role, Ohlhauser asked the university administration if it was open to supporting a boxing club on campus.
"I was told that they would support it because it is unique and it sets Crandall apart from other schools so we've been working at it and it's been growing every since," the coach said. "We get to compete a lot and we are training every day. I see this club continuing to grow for a very long time into the future."
Major sponsors for the Oct. 5 card are: Property Guys.com, Maple Brains, Boxing Fight Equipment, Moncton Kick Fit, Boss Supplements and Holiday Inn Express.
by Dwayne Tingley