When Boxer III was unveiled in 2019, Pacific students attempted to rekindle the tradition of capturing the Boxer.
The Boxer Statue has left a lasting impression on Pacific University. The first original Boxer statue was stolen in 1899 by students from Brighton Chapel, where it was displayed. That’s when the 70-year-old began stealing the Boxer tradition. Students in possession of it would “flash” the Boxer to a gathered crowd before tossing it into the moshpit, where students would fight and wrestle over the statue.
The records detail violent brawls and desperate attempts to flee. One student drove straight to the coast, only to be cornered with a bat by football players. Boxer II started off well but quickly faded from students’ interest and vanished around 2007. It wasn’t until 2019 that Pacific revealed a new Boxer III that the Boxer Bandits attempted to revive the old tradition.
The Pacific Index spoke with a Pacific University student who was involved in the plan to take the Boxer in the spring of 2019. The student was raised in Forest Grove and has a family member who works at Pacific. Overall, they are true Grovers who grew up learning about Pacific history. They were always fascinated by the ancient tradition of stealing the Boxer.
“I worked for Pacific in my first work-study job, and I remember my first boss’s husband actually has a scar all the way down his arm from one of the Boxer flashes when he was at Pacific,” explained the Boxer Bandit. “I always thought it was so cool and jealous that the tradition wasn’t a thing anymore.”
The Boxer Bandit recalls being at practice when he heard the news of Boxer III, coming home to his roommate, and saying, “Let’s steal the Boxer.” From then on, they believed that the universe had told them they needed to re-ignite the ritual.
The strategy was created in the fall but was not implemented until the following January. The Boxer Statue was placed in a glass case on the bottom floor of the Library, closed by two screws and right next to the main front exit. The Boxer Bandits claimed they went inside the library several times in the fall to take notes and prepare their strategy.
“We go into the library to check out the statue, which has this full-page description about it and everything,” expressed Boxer Bandit. “In the very first line, it has something about how Boxer III was crafted to reinvigorate the old traditions of the Boxer, and the only tradition with the Boxer is stealing the Boxer. So you know, we were convinced that the school wants us to steal it.”
The Boxer Bandit claimed they were driven to take it because they feared someone else would do it before. So, with the added time constraint, the Boxer Bandits went into the library at various times of the day, began testing screw sizes, noting when students were working and not staff members, and plotted their escape routes.
The Boxer Bandits were ready to execute their thought-out plan shortly after Christmas break. On the morning of January 16, 2019, two Boxer Bandits entered the library, armed with a power drill, a blanket, and a diversion. The student was directed to the front desk to check out several books to distract the worker. No alarm went out as the first screw was removed using their power drill. However, when the student was supposed to be distracting, the student turned around, made obvious eye contact with the two Boxer Bandits, and commented. Due to the attention drawn to them and only one screw loose, The Boxer Bandits’ plot collapsed.
“You know stealing something is never easy, but we were determined to return,” explained the Boxer Bandit. “We went straight back in the morning, right when they opened, in a hoodie and jeans that weren’t out, and you know I don’t wear jeans. The shoes I was wearing were also not mine.”
They wrote a note to drop at the case the evening before the second attempt. The note read, “The Boxer statue is not gone; it is now alive. Love, definitely not the football team.” They penned the note while wearing gloves and using their non-dominant hand, then sealed it in a plastic bag.
When they returned in the morning, they sat in the computer lab, waiting for a good time. Neither of them logged onto computers with the intention of not being tracked. During that moment, one of the Boxer Bandits attempted to persuade the other out of it.
“I’m just sweating,” said The Boxer Bandit, who tried to convince the other out of it. “I’m stressed out. I’m just sitting there with the blanket and do not feel good. My whole stomach is off, and I just felt terrible.”
Suddenly, the ready-to-go Boxer Bandit turned to the other Boxer Bandit who was about to back out and said, “I am standing up, walking over there, and taking the screw out, and if you’re not there, you’re a shit friend.” And with no time to think, he did exactly that. They b-lined it right to the Boxer statue with peer pressure from one and determination from the other.
They started the power drill at full speed, slyness no longer a worry. “Hey!” exclaimed the bloodcurdling cry. “What do you think you’re doing?” asked the librarian. They lift off the glass case, toss the blanket over the statue, and dash out of the main exit straight through the sliding glass door, not allowing it to open.
They made it to their escape car parked near Cascade Lawn after sprinting past the head of CPS and numerous professors. A professor later said they had assumed they had a sick dog under the blanket and were hurrying to the clinic.
“I didn’t take into account the statue was pure bronze, weighing 40-60 pounds, but the adrenalin helped with the weight,” confessed The Boxer Bandits. “I’m thinking police or SWAT helicopters are going to be swarming us at any minute. I’m scared. I’m terrified.”
The two Boxer Bandits and the stolen Boxer riding on the passenger’s lap sped away after repeated attempts to start the manual car. After a few laps around Forest Grove, they returned to their off-campus house, intending to bury the statue in their backyard for a few months before doing their first “flash” of the Boxer.
After putting the Boxer statue in their garage with only a blanket covering it, they proceeded to practice. They had already begun to hear rumors about the stolen statue at practice. On the small Pacific campus, word spreads quickly.
“I got to my mom’s office after practice, and she was like, ‘Oh my god, did you hear somebody stole the Boxer? They smashed the case open with a baseball bat’, and I was like, no mom, nobody did that,” said The Boxer Bandit. “Then she said she was so glad that her kids would never do that.”
Nearly two hours later, a mass email was sent out with the subject line “CPS Seeks Immediate Return of Boxer III Statue” and threatening felony charges.
The CPS officers identified the student who had distracted the librarian the day before but not the Boxer Bandits. In the computer lab, CPS also discovered the note that had fallen out of the Boxer Bandits’ pockets. According to sources, they were convinced it was the football team. The Boxer Bandits decided to return the Boxer statue because they did not want the identified student to bear the brunt of the responsibility. The threat of felony charges may have also been a part of the return of Boxer III.
“My mom saw the video and couldn’t even identify us, and CPS asked us how we knew exactly where the cameras were and were impressed our faces were never shown,” explained the Boxer Bandit. “In reality, we just got lucky. We didn’t even look around for the cameras prior.”
The Boxer Bandits returned the statue to the CPS officers two hours later. The CPS officers then informed them that the statue was valued at approximately $24,000. The statue was not harmed, and the university showed the Boxer Bandits grace and forgiveness.
“After we stole it, it went into a safe and never saw the light of day for like a year, and now they started bringing it out for special events,” said The Boxer Bandit. “I don’t regret stealing the Boxer because I participated in a tradition that is talked about by so many alumni.” — Emily Rutkowski