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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

UF kickboxing club hopes to come out swinging at competition

Between the weight training, jump roping, sprinting and sparring, members of UF’s Kickboxing Club have been training for months, some even years.

On Saturday, the competing members will show it at the Florida Collegiate Boxing Conference in Tallahassee.

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference this weekend.

UF is one of seven schools competing and will send four UF students — Antonio Benitez, Hunter Clonts, Nico Sanchez and Robbie Young — and one Santa Fe College student, Cornelius White.

They’ll compete with Florida International University, the University of Miami and Florida State University.

“At UF, we consider ourselves winners in everything, and that’s what we’re gonna do,” saidYoung, president of the kickboxing club and a 22-year-old industrial and systems engineeringsenior.

This is the club’s first year as a sports club registered with the Southwest Recreation Center, though it has been around as a student organization since 2008, said head coach J.C. Papaleo Giron.

It holds practice at Southwest Rec on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

“Once that bell rings, they’re like an astronaut, they’re in orbit,” said Giron, 41.

There are boxing proverbs that say when two fighters meet in the ring, their souls touch, he said.

One moment they’re trying to attack each other, and then the bout will end, and they’ll embrace.

Papaleo Giron would know: The former New Yorker even boxed under coach Hector Roca, who trained Hilary Swank for her role in “Million Dollar Baby.”

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“If [a boxer] gets hit, gets hurt — fear kicks in,” Giron said. “It’s a very psychological game.”

The club members are anxiously awaiting Saturday.

Megan Oliva, a 20-year-old political science and telecommunication sophomore, isn’t competing but will go to Tallahassee to support theteam.

“I’m really excited about seeing all the guys’ hard work pay off,” she said.

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