Skelly grows from sophomore novice to senior captain
Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A tall, lanky, laid-back California surfer might not be the first image that comes to mind with the word “boxer.” But senior captain Connor “Skellator” Skelly makes those two worlds collide.
“I’m from San Diego, so I just surfed in high school and I never wrestled or boxed until I did Bengal Bouts,” Skelly said.
Although starting late in the Bouts — he was a novice as a sophomore — Skelly has come a long way since then.
“I actually didn’t fight my freshman year, but a lot of older guys who I looked up to in the dorm did,” Skelly said. “I went to the Bengal Bouts tournament and saw a friend fight, and I wanted to try it out.”
With difficult extra training before and after practices, Skelly has overcome the missed year and become an accomplished Bengal Bouts boxer.
“Practice is from 4:30 to 6 [p.m.] every day, but the gym is open from 4 to 7,” he said. “I like to come before and get some extra training in and then stay late after. I also try to spar every day. The more you spar, the better you get. Outside of the training sessions and sparring, I have been trying to swim lately. It’s a great work out.”
During Skelly’s sophomore year, he broke his nose in the preliminaries and was unable to continue fighting. He almost did not return his junior year, but he liked Bengal Bouts too much. In his junior year, Skelly won two bouts before losing in the semifinals. This year, Skelly sets his eyes on winning the 180-pound division.
“My goal this year is to win,” Skelly said. “But I have just enjoyed hanging out with the guys, working with the novices and being down in the pit — the little things. I’ll miss it.”
Skelly plans on using his height and long reach to his advantage this year.
“I’m a tall guy with long arms, so I always try to keep guys at a distance from me,” Skelly said. “I feel like because of my height, my strengths are my jabs. This is also my weakness when guys get inside on me because it’s hard for me to uppercut. Boxing is like a chess match. You always have to keep thinking about how you’ll get the best punches in and what your opponent is going to do and how you’ll counteract them.”
This year as a captain, Skelly has taken extra responsibilities. He has a variety of duties, including organizing practices and work-outs, calling coaches, selling shirts and performing other small tasks. He jokes about some of these duties, but nonetheless takes them all seriously and realizes their value towards developing a good year of bouts.
“It’s a totally student-run thing and the captains have to organize everything,” he said. “I have been typing up a lot of emails lately. I didn’t realize before all the little things I had to do as a captain, but I’ll do whatever I need to in order for Bengal Bouts to be the best. My duties as captains don’t go against my training though. As captains, we prepare a hard work-out and then do the work-out with everyone else.”
Skelly put a lot of emphasis on the team aspect of the Bengal Bouts and said his favorite task is helping novices. He said he hopes he can be a positive influence on the younger fighters and emulate what the older fighters did for him.
“My favorite thing about Bengal Bouts is the team aspect,” Skelly said. “I know everyone comes to the tournament and that’s exciting, but we’ve been training since October. I like working with the guys. A lot of my good friends I have met through Bengal Bouts. I want to keep that going with the novices and then have them keep it going. I want them to have the same experience of camaraderie I had and continue this tradition with future fighters.”
Skelly said he has learned numerous lessons throughout his years of Bengal Bouts and wants to share these lessons with the other fighters, especially the novices.
“I think you gain a lot of self-discipline,” he said. “Also, working as a team is a big quality gained. Although boxing is an individual sport, all of the workouts and sparring together build teamwork.”
The San Diego native was never a combative person and said his family has expressed mixed feelings about his boxing career.
“My mom hates it, but the rest of my family thinks it’s really cool,” Skelly said. “I send videos of my fights to them and they usually enjoy the fights. I always bring home shirts for my brother and cousins, and they like me boxing.”
Skelly will fight in the 180-pound weight-class finals against senior Joe Garrity with his eyes on the prize, but more importantly, the senior said he is happy passing on the tradition of Bengal Bouts.
Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]