New Boxing Club steps into the ring

Ethan Akimoto (junior) and coach Daron Djerdijan practicing on the horizontal bag outside of Weingart Center at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. March 31, 2023. Milan Coleman/The Occidental

Students at Occidental have a new opportunity to get involved in athletics with the creation of the school’s new Boxing Club. Ethan Akimoto (sophomore) is the president and co-founder of the Boxing Club alongside Tzu Kit Chan (senior). The club, which has already attracted a number of interested students, provides a chance to improve physical fitness in a supportive and inclusive environment, according to Akimoto.

Last Fall, some friends mentioned a desire to take up boxing, but hadn’t yet due to gym fees, a lack of transportation and not knowing where to start,” Akimoto said via email. “I decided to get a small, dedicated group together to train using equipment generously donated by professor [Daron O.] Djerdjian.”

According to Akimoto, the Boxing Club is a great way to improve coordination, strength and endurance while simultaneously learning self-defense skills. In addition to training sessions, the Boxing Club is considering holding self-defense seminars for a broader audience, according to Akimoto.

“Through training, members are better equipped to keep themselves and those around them safe,” Akimoto said via email. “Oxy boxing brings people of various backgrounds together, bridging these gaps for an overall tighter Oxy community.”

Before founding the club, Chan said he saw an unmet need on campus. The club is catered towards beginners who find boxing gyms intimidating or do not have a means of transportation, according to Chan.

“Our mission is to provide free access to boxing training and self-defense education,” Chan said via email. “As a club, we seek to meet every student at where they are.”

According to Akimoto, there are no physical requirements to join the club, but having good strength, cardio and coordination will make it easier.

“We don’t require members to have a specific level of fitness. We meet members at their level and have them work up over time as they get better,” Akimoto said via email. “Don’t be afraid to take your time in order to learn better technique. We show up to training to get better and have fun, not to put on a performance.”

Austin Twiss (junior), Nicolas Camozzi (senior), coach Daron Djerdijan, Ethan Akimoto (junior) and Anirudh Krishnakumar (senior) of the Occidental Boxing Club, outside of Weingart, at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. March 31, 2023. Milan Coleman/The Occidental

Anirudh Krishnakumar (senior), one of 10 members currently in the club, said via email that there is a lot of interest from the Occidental community. According to Krishnakumar, the club sent a school-wide email asking students about their interest in joining the club and received more than a hundred responses in just a few hours.

“At the moment we have very, very, very high demand. We’re just a small team of students, and the equipment we have is not at all enough for 50 people to be training at once for an hour.” Krishnakumar said via email.

As a result, the club is giving priority to people who bring their own basic equipment — hand wraps, boxing gloves (10-16 ounces) and a jump rope — and even higher priority to those who contribute something to the club such as a heavy bag, speed bag or pads for striking, according to Krishnakumar.

However, according to Daron Djerdjian, an economics professor and adviser for the club, the Boxing Club got funding from the Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) March 31, allowing them to start accepting more members and use better equipment. However, according to Akimoto, the priority rules still apply.

Professor Djerdjian is also a coach and Boxing Club member, and even creates a workout schedule for each training session. According to Djerdjian, he donated to the club because he did not want to wait for funding.

“[The club] wouldn’t have started if we waited for the bureaucracy,” Djerdjian said. “We wanted to start the club [but] we didn’t think we’d get funding soon enough. We were all super excited, so I said, ‘ok I will get the stuff.’”

According to Djerdjian, learning to box can have a civilizing effect in a self-defense situation.

“Uncertainty leads to vulnerability, and when you’re vulnerable, you overreact,” Djerdjian said. “Hopefully when [club members] become confident [they] won’t feel so vulnerable, so [they can] defuse a situation.”

According to Krishnakumar, he primarily joined the Boxing Club for self-defense purposes, but it has evolved into a community that he is proud to belong to.

“It’s an inherently positive community to be in. Here you have a group of young people who are dedicated to bettering themselves,” Krishnakumar said via email. “The satisfaction of hearing your gloves thud against a heavy bag as professor Djerdjian plays Balada” in the background is a hell of a dopamine spike.”

Although the club currently has no female members, Krishnakumar said joining the club will benefit all students.

“For young men, the atmosphere of friendly competition is a great way to boost their testosterone levels to achieve good hormonal health,” said Krishnakumar. “For young women, if you’re able to defend yourself, you can be much more secure walking around the street, going out with friends, having nights out, etc.”

Contact Malcom Schiltz at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here