The Pacific Index

The Boxer:

Student talks history of mascot

Melissa Hood

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In 1986, Christian missionary Reverend J.E. Walker and his mother gifted the Boxer to Pacific University. The Boxer is a Qilin, a mythical creature from Chinese culture, depicted most commonly with a scaled body, hooved feet, a dragon-like head and a single horn. The Boxer was a gift from a family in China, where Walker had traveled to and worked as a missionary. When the Boxer first arrived at Pacific, it was placed in the chapel, now Marsh Hall, and was called things like “College Spirit.” The Boxer was ultimately not a very significant item to most people on campus. 
However, the Boxer began to gain popularity in 1900 when the class of 1902 stole the Boxer away from Pacific. When the students returned the solid bronze animal statue back to the school, a different group of students once again stole him away. Soon, a tradition was created known as the “Boxer Toss,” in which the group who had last attained the Boxer would “flash” it somewhere on campus for students to then wrestle over and try to gain 
possession of. 
The Boxer could be missing for weeks, months and even years before it finally flashed on campus again. Students would try and come up with increasingly creative ways to flash the Boxer; hanging from a tree, trapped in a block of ice, dangling from a helicopter and even once hidden inside the trunk of a car with the future mayor of Forest Grove, then a Pacific student. The first recorded use of the Boxer’s name was in an article published in The Pacific Index in 1908. The Boxer was originally from China, but it had also traveled to and explored the trenches of France during World War I, experienced a bombing mission over the Pacific in World War II and was even held by Richard Nixon, who later became president and re-established ties with China. In 1968, Pacific changed their mascot from the Badgers to the Boxers. The Boxer’s reign on Pacific’s campus represents both what was happening among the students as well as what was occurring in society during those days. In 1969, the Boxer was tossed for the last time. There was an increasing amount of organizations 
on campus that strongly disagreed with the violence linked to the Boxer tosses. 
This was strongly related to the fact that the Civil Rights Movement was flourishing in America at that time. The Black Student Union felt exceptionally strong about this aspect of violence and wanted to take the Boxer indefinitely. “They tried to show that the Civil Rights Movement was a nonviolent movement, and that the Boxer had become something of a symbol of violence,” local historian Ken Bilderback said. “They were trying to make a very strong political statement.”
The Black Student Union had indeed ended up with the Boxer that day; that was the last credible sighting of the Boxer, escaping in the back of a Chevy Chevelle. Pacific eventually received an ear, a foot and the tail of the Boxer, all of which now reside in the campus library. For many years, the students and staff of Pacific were waiting for the return of the Boxer. Some alumni eventually recast “as close of an approximation as they could” of the original Boxer, named simply “Boxer Two.” “For many years, people didn’t realize that Boxer 2 was actually a replacement for the original Boxer,” Bilderback said. After being found by members of Pacific’s staff hanging by chains from a tree, the Boxer Toss returned for some years. As the excitement of the Boxer Toss started to subside, a student was thrown on his head during a toss and although he recovered, he was injured severely enough to alert the campus of how dangerous these events could really become. Boxer Two disappeared in the early 2000s and has yet to be seen again. If the Boxer was to appear on the campus 
again, the chances of the Boxer Toss returning are very slim. After the level of violence the Boxer Toss created, it would be undoubtedly very difficult to convince faculty that the Tosses should commence again. “Boxer history was really about male dominated culture on the campus and that’s really not the culture you would find today on the Pacific campus,” Bilderback said. Pacific and the Boxer have been a significant detail in the advancement and development of the Northwest. The Boxer represents the spirit of Pacific as well as the controversial changes Pacific’s campus, as well as the world around us, have gone through since the early years of the university.
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The Boxer: