Dec 14 2013

Nixon and BoxerIn 1968, presidential candidate Richard Nixon campaigned at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. He met with a group of Alpha Zeta fraternity members who presented him with a certificate granting him honorary AZ membership (left). But it seems as if the boys couldn't resist having a little fun at the candidate's expense, getting the school mascot, Boxer, into this historic shot.

And check out those sweet Ray-Bans. Hopefully that guy ended up as an extra on the set of Animal House, filmed not far away in Eugene, 10 years later.

About Boxer and the "Flash and Toss"
Pacific's Boxer icon has a rich history at the school. Gifted to the school in 1896 by Rev. J.E. Walker, a missionary to China and Pacific Alum, Boxer (a solid-bronze, 60-lb. Chinese "dragon dog") was put on display at the front of the chapel. In 1900, Richard Faulkner (Class of 1902) swiped Boxer, claiming it was his class's mascot. Thus, a long-standing tradition of stealing Boxer was born.

In 1908 Boxer disappeared again, prompting theWeekly Index to print items about their beloved "College Spirit" icon. This was also the year another tradition was born - that of the Boxer "flash and toss."  

When a sports team, sorority, fraternity, club or other group got ahold of Boxer, the tradition was to wait a few weeks and then "flash" him at a public setting - such as, for example, in a photo with a presidential candidate. 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 physically wrestle over the statue until a new holder of Boxer emerged. A Boxer Toss consisted of up to 300 students struggling for Boxer's possession. These melées could last for up to nine hours, which happened in 1929. Students even got injured - not surprising, given the piece's weight and solidity. These chaotic events ended in 1969 when, during a toss, Boxer was stolen by members of the Black Student Union who felt alienated from the majority of the student population. According to the Pacific University website, the original Boxer has not been seen on campus since.

Boxer II debuted in 1984 but after "tossing" was banned on campus, that version also went missing. Anonymous tips pop up from time to time, but neither the original Boxer nor the second rendition have resurfaced.

Boxer at Grand LodgeHowever, a much larger and much less flash-and-tossable version (left) stands inside the hotel lobby at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, a nod to the city's university just up the road, its Asian-Pacific connections and good ol' Boxer, wherever he may be. Give it a pat on the head the next time you stroll by.

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#1 Bruce Bishop

It's not entirely accurate that members of the Black Student Union "stole" Boxer in the 1969 toss.  My understanding is that they captured it the same way other groups had--with superior strength, stamina and teamwork.  One of my fraternity brothers, not a member of Alpha Zeta, had a chance to jump in the car trunk as Boxer was driven off campus.  He decided not to take that opportunity.  Another , a year earlier, tossed Boxer, after a ride in a trunk from Hillsboro to Forest Grove, and that melee resulted in the AZ's possession, so that they could show Nixon Boxer.  He's now a distinguished member of the Forest Grove community.  And a third flashed Boxer from a helicopter during a football half-time in 1967.  The "replica" from the 1980s disappeared about seven years ago.  But the original tail has recently returned to campus, and it's been detached from the statue's body since the 50s.  So there's always a chance the original might appear in campus again, even after 45 years of absence.

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