Whitties duke it out in boxing ring

Kyle Howe

Whitman students are resourceful in finding a variety of ways to stay fit and have fun at the same time, which has led a small group of Whitties to the sport of boxing.

Whittie boxers Eli Lewis ’14 (left) and Joel Senecal ’14. Photos by Tanner Bowersox.

The students go to Zap Boxing Club and Youth Center downtown at 927 W Alder Street. Here the students train with Ramon Zamora, a popular figure in the local community and former golden gloves champion.

Nowadays a small group of students attends the boxing club regularly.

“[The group is] just a couple of Whitman students who come with me. Less than seven go consistently,” said junior Eli Lewis. “The gym is not associated with Whitman at all. There is a boxing ring there and a bunch of punching bags and other boxing equipment.”

Most of the students started going to the gym for a new way to stay in shape and to replace other sports.

Eli Lewis ’14

“I used to play rugby and I quit because I kept on getting injured because it is a pretty rough sport. So I was looking for something a little safer,” said Lewis. “Rugby is a good release of energy [and] boxing is similar, but boxing is a little safer than rugby.”

Zamora teaches boxing to both skilled and beginning adults as well as children. He has five children of his own as well as foster children.

“Ramon, the guy who runs it, is amazing. He is always smiling and encouraging you. It is great,” said Lewis. “He is the ringleader of the club, and every day there [are] eight to 25 people, and he will take people individually and spar with them. He runs the gym so he brings in people who have never boxed before, and he gives the experts little tips as well.”

Nevin Schaeffer ’16 and Eli Lewis ’14

Zamora is well known throughout the Walla Walla community and is starting to become a more recognized name on the Whitman campus. A few years ago in the mornings, some Whitman professors would practice boxing at the gym with Zamora, and these professors got the nickname The Breakfast Club.

“Everybody knows Ramon. He is a big figure in the social community,” said junior Riley Patterson.

The Boxing Club is also a youth center, which attracts much of Walla Walla’s youth. There are even boxing lessons for children offered at the club.

“One concern of mine is that as word spreads about that boxing at that gym to Whitman, there could be a big flood of interest and it could be overwhelming. This has been primarily an opportunity for underprivileged minority kids in town to have a place to hang out and a social situation for them, so it being flooded by Whitman students would be pretty terrible,” said Lewis.

The environment at the club is very energetic and positive with a very strong positive attitude coming from Zamora and extending to everyone else.

“The club is loud, a little crowded, but definitely not relaxed,” said Patterson.

Joel Senecal ’14

“[The club] is very energetic. Ramon is very energetic and always happy,” said Lewis.

Zap Boxing Club has attracted a wide variety of people from Walla Walla.

“[The club] is a pretty safe environment; there are a lot of pretty tough guys there, so there are quite a few people with some gang tattoos and some pretty rough-looking folk. [Boxing] can be pretty intimidating,” said Lewis. “I personally have never been intimidated; they have all been really friendly and … I have never felt threatened or out of place.”

As a whole, the club is a safe place full of friendly and helpful individuals.

“I have had a lot of people help me or explain things to me,” said Patterson. “[Ramon] barely emphasizes the power, but the technique and the speed.”

“[Boxing] is fun. I think Ramon would really want to highlight how boxing is really misunderstood as a sport because it is widely seen as a brutal sport and less of a martial art. But in fact what he teaches is all about the balance footwork and the speed and agility of it,” said Lewis. “[Ramon] thinks it is useful for almost anyone to know, not just for fighting, but how to hold oneself.”

Nevin Schaeffer ’16 (left), Eli Lewis ’14 (center) and Joel Senecal ’14 (right) goof around after practicing behind North Hall.