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Win or lose, Jack McDermott remains all smiles

| Friday, March 1, 2019

Boxing is a fierce sport filled with intense faces that indicate pain, tiredness, anger and, in some cases, fear. But senior captain Jack “Smiles” McDermott, as his nickname indicates, is all smiles.

“I really enjoying boxing,” McDermott said. “The majority of the times the managers will see me and they’ll be coming around with cameras, and I’d always just have a smile on my face.”

Even his pre-fight routine reflects McDermott’s light demeanor.

“[Before each fight,] I actually listen to really positive music, happy-vibe music because I really love getting in the ring and boxing,” McDermott said. “And I come into the ring with a positive outlook. I’m just really happy to be there. Ten minutes before [a fight], when I’m done warming up for the most part, just dressed and everything, then I’ll put on the more intense [music].”

As someone who has recently discovered the relaxing joy of painting and as a an avid card-game player, McDermott understands the need to maintain a light and relaxed attitude. Despite his laid-back and sunny disposition, the senior representing O’Neill Hall is a fierce competitor. He has reached the finals in his weight class every year since his freshman year, but has yet to win in the championship round. McDermott would like to change that, but he said he realizes winning isn’t everything.

After his finals-match loss last year, McDermott still came out of the fight content.  

“I had an absolute blast the entire time through — even when the announcement came, I still had a massive smile on my face,” McDermott said. “It’s so much more than the end result. You can still learn so much from a fight.”

McDermott now calls that match his most meaningful.

“That was the first fight where I really reached a new level,” he said. “Having no energy left and finding something left. I don’t know, it’s like pushing yourself to another level that you didn’t know existed. Reaching that new level was exciting.”

McDermott knows he is able to reach these new levels of ability because of all the support he has received through the years from his corner.  

“Achieving [these new highs] just isn’t possible unless you have a whole bunch of people cheering in your corner,” he said. “[My parents] come to almost every fight. My mom can’t. She turns her head a lot. Everyone in the corner is super important to me — you really feed off that energy. When you hear everyone’s there to support you, you can’t quit.”

In this year’s finals, McDermott will face Montana Giordano, a fellow senior captain who has also reached the finals every year and failed to win. And while McDermott would obviously like to grab the win Friday, he is ready for any result and is keeping it all in perspective.

“I want to make sure that I already know that I’ve had an awesome season and a super, super fun time regardless of the outcome,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, as long as I get to push myself to my absolute limit, that’s what I’m looking for in this match.”

This balance of competitiveness and improvement is what McDermott believes makes Bengal Bouts such an exceptional program.

“It’s a special club because you wouldn’t have the physical and aggressive side without the emphasis placed on the service aspect or the camaraderie between people, between teammates. Especially after fights, you see [competitors] hugging,” McDermott said. “You couldn’t really have one without the other. I think there’s a very unique balance between service and aggression.”

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About Carlos De Loera

Carlos is a senior majoring in History and pursuing a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy (JED). He is from the birthplace of In-N-Out Burger, Baldwin Park, California and is glad to be one of the over 18 million people from the Greater Los Angeles area.

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