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Boxers Receive Academic, Athletic Excellence Awards

referee holding up hand of VMI boxer, declaring him the winner

Cadet Valor Boyd ’24 was named champion in his division, Male Boxer of the Tournament, and was awarded the Academic All-American silver at the USIBA 2023 National Tournament March 23–25, 2023.—Photo courtesy VMI Communications & Marketing.

The VMI club boxing team took to the ring for the USIBA 2023 National Tournament March 23–25, 2023, bringing home several accolades for their sporting and academic endeavors.

Cadet Valor Boyd ’24 was named champion in his division and Male Boxer of the Tournament. Cadet Aidan Simmons ’23 claimed the champion title in his division, and Joe Shafer, head coach, was named Coach of the Tournament. Cadets participating in the boxing club are about more than just success on the field, on the court, or in the ring. They learn important life lessons about teamwork, perseverance, and time management.

Three cadets were recognized for their achievements in balancing athletics and academics. Cadet Jackson Miller ’24 and Boyd were named USIBA Academic All-Americans, and Simmons received the Ira Mitzner Collegiate Boxing Scholarship.

Miller’s father suggested the Academic All-American award to reflect superior boxing skills and academic performance. Gold is awarded to those with a GPA of 3.8-4.0; silver for a GPA of 3.60-3.79; and bronze for a GPA of 3.4-3.59.

Miller, of Rockville, Maryland, was awarded the Academic All-American gold. He is an English major in the Institute Honors Program. This summer, Miller will work as a neurosurgery research assistant at Johns Hopkins University Medical School.

“Boxing teaches me how to problem solve under pressure, which is an invaluable skill that has helped me in a lot of other areas of my life,” said Miller.

Boyd, an international studies major from Dallas, Texas, was awarded the Academic All-American silver.

“The demands, challenges, and iterated trials of college boxing have propelled every facet of my development as an individual,” said Boyd. “Before even getting to the point of taking advantage of access to incredible opportunities I never would have seen without USIBA, I have had to increase my affinity for time management, capacity for personal discipline, continually develop my athleticism, increase mental and physical resilience, and generally strengthen my character in order to keep up with the greatly increased load on my person and already near maxed out VMI schedule. For me, college boxing has meant an unparalleled boon in my ongoing pursuit of excellence.”

Simmons, of Aldie, Virginia, one of the two athletes receiving the Ira Mitzner Collegiate Boxing Scholarship, is an international studies major serving as a U.S. Coast Guard AUP unit commander at VMI. The scholarship was established to allow a student who demonstrates Mitzner’s same love and dedication to the sport of boxing to pursue an education. It is designed to enable these students to develop the character needed to be as successful as Mitzner was in both school and on the stage of life. Rachel Mitzner, Mitzner’s widow, said her husband began boxing at age 50. When he passed, she wanted to give a scholarship in his honor to a boxing organization and a young person because Mitzner loved to mentor young students. Eligibility for the $2,500 scholarship requires a student to maintain a GPA higher than 2.5, receive multiple recommendations, be registered with USIBA and the national tournament, and more.

  • Laura Peters Shapiro VMI Communications & Marketing