Boxer III Debuts at Homecoming 2018
Boxer is coming home, just in time for Homecoming!
A grassroots fundraising initiative, funded entirely through gifts by alumni, students and friends of Pacific, has resulted in the creation of a new statue of Pacific’s beloved mascot almost five decades after the original Boxer went missing.
Boxer III will be dedicated at a pep rally event on Friday, Oct. 19, during Homecoming 2018. Alumni, students, staff, faculty and friends of Pacific are invited to come join the festivities as the newest Boxer makes its public debut.
In the lead up to his 50th reunion this year, Bruce Bishop ’68 decided it was time to bring Boxer back to the university.
“Because it was our 50th reunion year, and (the original) Boxer has been gone from campus for nearly that long, I resolved to see if we couldn’t bring it back,” said Bishop, who led the campaign for bringing Boxer III to life. “It was really important for our class, because we were the first class to graduate as Boxers.
“I believe that the statue is an important part of Pacific’s history and mythology, the symbol of Pacific spirit. The statue was even originally called ‘Spirit of Pacific,’ before being renamed ‘Boxer’.”
Dan Hornberger ’69, with his wife, Lois Hornberger, senior director of Conference & Event Support Services at Pacific, were the lead donors to the statue.
“Boxer is a part of my memories and should be a part of the life and times of current students as well,” Dan Hornberger said. “My good friend Bruce Bishop was the person who brought this Boxer III project to life and who had my attention from his very first mention of ‘the dog’ to me.
“I was all in. This is a most worthwhile effort to help move school spirit back toward the forefront of student life.”
The fundraising campaign for the new statue was targeted toward alumni and friends of Pacific, to great success. “Flabbergasted” is how Bishop described his reaction to the success of the campaign.
“It cut across generations in terms of getting support from old and new alums. It was strongly supported by alumni, mostly from the ’60s, class of ’68 and earlier, but also the class of 2018,” Bishop said. “Some of us have a stronger association to the statue than others, but it was supported by a good cross section of alums.”
The original Boxer statue was an incense burner picked up in China by missionary Rev. J.E. Walker and gifted to the university in 1896 by his mother. The statue represented a mythical Chinese qilin said to bring prosperity and wisdom to whomever it watches over.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Boxer was stolen by a student from its home in Pacific’s chapel, launching a decades-long tradition of “Boxer Flashes” and “Boxer Tosses,” where different student groups and fraternities would take possession of Boxer for a period of time. Boxer would be “flashed” periodically to display who had current possession of the statue, and would be handed over to a different group during a “toss,” which typically resulted in a huge scrum of students scrambling to gain hold of the statue.
Pacific University officially adopted Boxer as the school mascot in 1968, but the original statue went missing a year later. In the decades since, rumors have circulated as to where the statue is, and small pieces have been recovered, but no one has seen the full statue in almost five decades.
In the 1980s, several Pacific students raised funds for a new Boxer statue, but Boxer II also disappeared after a few flashes.
The new Boxer statue was created by the same sculptor who created Boxer II, but Boxer III will be much more accurate to the original design, thanks to detailed photos and pieces of the original statue that were not available for the creation of Boxer II back in the 1980s.
As for the longevity of this statue, both Bishop and Hornberger are optimistic, and hope that the traditions of flashes and tosses are in the past.
“The fighting over it, the practice of passing it among groups, I think is historically interesting, but not the way the mascot should be treated in the future,” Bishop said. “That’s in the past and we should be looking forward, and Boxer is a representation of the spirit of Pacific University, without the baggage of the scrums and other activities. It’s a piece of art that we will display and can be proud of, but not in the way it was abused in the past.”
Hornberger believes that “what is most important is that there be a notion of the community ownership and guardianship of the dog.
“What happened to ‘the dog’, in the past, must never happen again,” he said. “Students and student groups must be considered guardians of the ‘the dog’. It is and must stay the respected and revered property of Pacific University and all its students.”
There’s still time to give to Boxer III! While the statue was fully funded by Pacific alumni, students and friends, Boxer III still needs a case to keep him safe, secure and visible for future generations of Boxers to enjoy.