Pacific University's mascot Boxer has a rich history at the university and has stood as a symbol of school spirit for over a century.
Pacific University received Boxer as a gift in 1896, courtesy of Reverend J.E. Walker, a missionary to China and a Pacific alumnus, and Walker's mother, who presented it to the university.
Boxer was put on display at the front of the chapel, a place of great honor. In 1900, Richard Faulkner, class of 1902, swiped Boxer, claiming it was the mascot of his class. Boxer was returned, but the tradition of stealing Boxer had started.
In 1908 Boxer disappeared again, prompting The Index to print items about their beloved "College Spirit" icon, which they called "Boxer" —the first documented time the term was used. The name of "Boxer" stuck, as did the traditions of the Boxer "flash" and "toss."
When a sports team, sorority, fraternity, club or other group got a hold of Boxer, the tradition was to wait a few weeks and then "flash" him at a public setting. This showed everyone who had possession of Boxer and prompted a surge of spirit. After a few months, the organization would "toss" out Boxer to the students who would wrestle and fight over the statue until a new holder of Boxer emerged.
In 1962, the Blue Key Honor Fraternity published a history of Boxer (pdf) that detailed the various Boxer tosses and struggles for possession.
The Boxer Toss
The Boxer Toss was the traditional way in which one group of students would pass on the Boxer to the next group.
Once the group in possession "flashed" or "tossed" out Boxer, students would promptly converge on the revealed statue, resulting in groups of up to 300 students struggling for physical possession of the Boxer. These "tosses" could last for hours, showcasing the passion Boxer inspired in students, including a nine-hour-long struggle that occurred in 1929.
Boxer tosses could be dangerous sessions. Sometimes students got injured, walking away with bruises and bloody noses, but the point was to have fun and show school spirit.
After decades of tosses, Boxer was also a little worse for wear, and pieces of him were often separated from the body and then welded back on.
Boxer tosses ended in 1969 when during a toss, Boxer was gained by members of the Black Student Union who felt alienated from the majority of the student population.
The original Boxer has not been seen on campus since.
The Spirit of Boxer Continues
Over the years, alumni have returned pieces of Boxer, and the university is now in possession of an ear, hoof and tail. The largest piece, the tail, was returned by an alumnus in 2012.
The university continues to hope that more pieces, including the body and head, can be recovered and returned to Pacific University.