Due to a lack of funding from USA Boxing for coach salary, the United States Olympic Education Center (USOEC) boxing program at NMU has been suspended.
The suspension affected several of the athletes, including Mikaela Mayer, who came from West Hills, Calif. to NMU in pursuit of a boxing career and college education in January 2011. She was one of the first women boxers to train in the USOEC.
“Going to NMU was probably the best decision I could’ve made for my boxing career,” Mayer said. “I didn’t have money to go to college, so I really appreciate the opportunities I was given.”
While at NMU, Mayer trained with head coach Al Mitchell and was very satisfied with his training methods, she said.
Even though the program was suspended, Mayer still plans to come to Marquette to train with Mitchell in the upcoming months.
“Coach Al was the coach for me,” Mayer said. “I enjoyed training with him.”
Mayer transferred back to her home in California after the program was suspended to work with her previous trainers.
“I was really disappointed that they cut the program this year,” Mayer said. “It messed up my whole academic career, too.”
Mike Fields, assistant director of USOEC, said that the program was suspended due to a shortage of funds USA Boxing needed to pay for a full time coach.
“To run a quality program, we would need a full-time coach,” he said. “USA boxing couldn’t afford to pay for one.”
Athletes will still be allowed to attend classes at NMU even though their training has been suspended, Fields said.
USOEC boxing had been cut before at NMU a few years ago due to similar circumstances and then resurrected after more finances came in. Fields said that the program may be reinstated for next year after reviewing funds and corresponding with USA Boxing.
Head Coach, Al Mitchell has been coaching boxing at USOEC since 1989. Mitchell’s career flourished when he came to NMU. After coaching here for several years, he said his name became known all over.
“NMU has been good to me. I’ve got no complaints,” he said. “The amateur boxing program is outstanding.”
According to Mitchell, USA Boxing has had several problems with funds during the last few years because of the constant switch in leadership.
“USA Boxing is in turmoil,” he said. “When you have a revolving door like that, there are going to be problems. This cut really hurt a couple of athletes.”
USOEC was planning for 12-14 athletes in 2012 consisting of half male and half female boxers, Mitchell said. The program has been extremely successful in helping young athletes succeed. Among last year’s boxers was Jesse Hart, who went on to the Olympic trials.
Because of the program suspension, Mitchell is currently coaching athletes in China. He has worked there many times during his career. Even if the funds are available next year for a full-time coach, he is not sure as to if he will come back to coach at NMU.
Mayer said that she will return to NMU if the program is reinstated, but until then will remain in California to continue her boxing career.
“I had to transfer back home so I could still train,” she said. “I’m passionate about school, but training comes first.”