Boxer tail returns to Pacific

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“College Spirit” is returning to campus piece by piece. Previously known as “College Spirit” to generations of alums, Boxer and the return of its tail sparked new interest in Pacific University’s mascot.

“I think the authenticity of the Boxer and its history involved links previous generations to the present,” said Director of Media Relations Joe Lang.

Boxer’s tail is with University Advancement in an undisclosed location, but the tail is soon to make its first public appearance.

To celebrate homecoming, the tail will be revealed at the Golden Guard class of 1962’s 50-year reunion lunch, at noon on Sept. 28.

“What’s unique about this is the timing,” said Lang.

To have Don Metzger, a 1966 Optometry graduate, reach out to the university and return the tail after 45 years in July gave Lang and those in Marketing and Communications just enough time to give extra spirit to homecoming events.

Along with the reunion lunch, the tail will be present at the Class of 1962 and the Golden Guard Sidewalk Signing, Carnegie Library Centennial and at the homecoming football game against Whitworth at the Boxer Club tent.

Lang detailed, Boxer will be displayed in acrylic case created by Marketing and Communications Creative Director Joyce Gabriel to show the “honor and mystique” of Boxer. That, and there will be security on hand to insure that the tradition of stealing the Boxer remains paused for now.

“Certainly this brings back excitement and passion,” said Lang. “But for now we’d like the university to remain in possession to encourage all of Boxer to be returned.”

The 60-pound, solid-bronze figurine has been a symbol at Pacific for almost 120 years and mascot for 45 years. There are more than 22,000 alums that know about the original Boxer even though the Boxer hasn’t been seen in one piece in 43 years. A recast of Boxer, Boxer II, was made in 1982, but Boxer II has been unseen for more than four years.

The return of Boxer’s tail has ignited a pressure for the rest of Boxer to be returned and also motivated the unknown person in possession of Boxer II to try and regain some attention.

Shortly after the return of Boxer’s tail was publicized, an anonymous and untraceable email sent a photo of Boxer II in between two cocker spaniels to University Advancement.

“If I knew who had it, I’d go talk to them myself,” said Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Grundon.

The pressure to have Boxer and Boxer II returned has amplified with bits and pieces returning.

“We need to bring Boxer II back to Pacific,” said Grundon, who plans to reach out to alums personally sending a plea asking for any information regarding Boxer, “for the sake of our students.”

The memories connected with Boxer have been reflected on with the Boxer-hype. School spirit at Pacific was intense with Boxer tosses, wrestling matches involving hundreds of students fighting for hours to get their hands on the bronze statue.

Director of Advancement Dan Cleveland, who coordinated with Metzger to bring the tail back, remembered holding Boxer II himself.

“If you had Boxer, you were the king or queen of campus,” said Cleveland.

Grundon said he’s seen Boxer dropped from a hot air balloon after homecoming, seen it frozen in 300 pounds of ice and seen the wrestlers hover Boxer over campus in a helicopter. He and some friends even held their own Boxer Toss, which was covered by NewsChannel 8.

Cleveland, Grundon and Lang all said the complete return of Boxer or Boxer II would further enhance school spirit.

“The spirit on campus now is awesome,” said Cleveland. “But we are missing a little piece of us.”

There are no undergraduate students on the Forest Grove campus who have seen the Boxer in person, held it or experienced a Boxer Toss.

“Students today don’t understand the tradition of Boxer,” said Grundon. And the undergrads are not to blame, he continued. The tradition cannot continue without the return of Boxer.

And the search for Boxer is not a light matter.

For years, Pacific staff members have been reaching out to alum and people of interest in multiple attempts to retrieve Boxer.

Years ago, Cleveland connected with alum that said they had Boxer and wanted to return it. But when Cleveland flew down to Los Angeles, Calif. to meet up with the individual, they never showed. Thus, the mystery of Boxer and Boxer II lives on.

But with foot and now tail in hand, many see this as the start of something bigger for Boxer.

“I see this as a rallying point,” said Lang. “This could be a reappearance for Boxer, even if piece by piece.”

Cleveland agreed.

The Boxer is “the epitome of the spirit of Pacific,” he said. “This could be the momentum to bring the whole body back.”

Plans are being made to decide the best placement for Boxers foot and tail to be viewed. After homecoming and gathering feedback from alums, the university will decide where the pieces will reside.

Grundon hopes eventually all of Boxer can be displayed permanently.

While Boxer “gives identity to that spirit,” he said, the focus remains on finding the rest of Boxer and Boxer II.

“Boxer is bigger than any one person, group or team,” said Grundon. “It belongs to the institution of students; past, present and future.”

University Advancement received this untraceable photo of Boxer II seated between two cocker spaniels after the original Boxer’s tail was returned.

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