Coming Home! 

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

President Coyle helps solve the 55-year old mystery of the missing Boxer

After the recurring Boxer Brawl in 1969—an annual tradition in which students rugby scrummed over an 18-pound statue of the Boxer mascot—the original Boxer statue disappeared; and ever since, the icon of Pacific University has been buried in mystery and urban legend. 

   The original statue is made of all copper, and during one of the last brawls, was broken: The tail, the leg, and the remaining bulk of the body all went separate ways; each taken by different Pacific students and, for 55 years, vanishing into obscurity and myth. 

   But recently, the tail resurfaced—and from there the whole mystery unraveled.

   “I have been here for 35 years,” explained President Jenny Coyle, “so I have known about the Boxer the whole time I was here and where I really got interested is when the tail came back.” She added, “and it was an optometrist who was involved in the tail.” (Coyle earned her bachelor of vision science in 1990, Doctor of Optometry in 1993, and Master of Science in Vision Science in 2000; all from Pacific.) 

   Upon taking office two school years ago, Coyle’s desire to bring home the Boxer was ignited by the excitement within the community when the tail returned to the college. In the past two years, she has been steadfast, inquiring about the whereabouts of the Boxer at every reunion she has attended, hoping that a collection of clues may lead her to its eventual return.

   During President Coyle’s first official event as president, a summer class reunion, she struck up a conversation with Bruce and Judy Bishop, both who graduated from Pacific in the 1970s. So that the University could have something concrete, they had worked to raise enough money to have Boxer III cast in 2018. At a dinner with the Bishops in December, they suggested President Coyle reach out to her good friend John Howard; they said he might have information on where the rest of the original Boxer could be.

   A Pacific alumni and student during 1969, Howard was among the students who won the last Boxer toss—and they drove off with the Boxer in their car trunk. They asked to take a photo with the Boxer,and after that the friend took it—and for 55 years, that was the last time the original Boxer had been on campus, and the start to the rumors. 

   Reportedly, Howard, who went on to become an attorney in southern California, felt responsible for the disappearing Boxer even though he never realized the last time he saw it in 1969 would be the final time for the Boxer on campus. Recently, remorseful for his part in the disappearing, returning to the Boxer had become his solemn mission—and he hired a private investigator to find his old friend because he thought he might have the Boxer. 

   He didn’t have to look far: Coincidently, his old Pacific friend lived in Oxnard, California, just a few miles away from Howard’s lawyer’s office. In turn, Howard confided in President Coyle his suspicion that he knew who had the Boxer. 

   Multiple phone conversations and pleas later, and a Zoom conference with Coyle, the anonymous alumni agreed to give back the Boxer. Bishop and Howard played a big role in getting their old friend to return the Boxer.

   “He was worried that we wouldn’t keep it safe and that it would disappear again.” explained President Coyle. “There were some people who talked about throwing it over a bridge. He really believed he was keeping it safe all this time. There are some other stories, but those are his stories to tell and I respect that.”

   Like a scene out of an espionage novel, the alumnus met in a parking garage—and Howard took over possession of the Boxer from the anonymous friend. President Coyle flew down to California and met at Howards’ house for dinner that evening and saw the original Boxer for the first time.

   “I was so nervous, so excited to finally see it. Then I saw it on the table and I got emotional at first and I looked at it and said ‘I’ve waited a long time to meet you’,” with tears in her eyes explained President Coyle. “Some other alumni from particularly those years, I’ve watched them when they heard it’s back, tear up. I’ve gotten these heartfelt messages from people explaining how important it’s return is to them.”

   “When we had dinner at John Howard’s house, it was a night full of Boxer storytelling,” smiled President Coyle. “It was amazing. I learned John Howard even has a scar on his hand from one of the Boxer tosses.”

   Although dulled by the years, the original Boxer still has its shine. The Boxer has found its way home, by being checked on an airplane with an Apple tag attached to ensure it does not go missing again. Now bids are being taken to construct a museum-quality exhibition case and a cozy niche for the statue on the first floor of the Marsh Hall. President Coyle says the goal is to create storytelling content that explains the significance of the Boxer statue and its past, and then figure out how to make it accessible to the public while ensuring its future safety. 

  But until the Boxer is whole again, President Coyle will not stop trying to recover the lost foot.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *