- Hugo Bezdek hired boxing coach Leo Houck in 1923 to succeed team founder Dick Harlow.
o Houck built champions and became a one man publicity campaign.
o For 30 years, he raised collegiate boxing’s back alley reputation by teaching technique rather than brawling.
o Houck would give each boxer credit – “It was an achievement just to get into the ring”
- Coach Leo Houck
o Houck fought more than 200 bouts as a world class middleweight before taking over as Penn State head coach.
o The team competed without scholarship athletes.
o Houck began each year scouring campus for potential boxers.
o It is said that once he started calling you “Fred”, his favorite nickname, you were on the team.
o Houck is considered the “father” of intercollegiate boxing.
o In 26 years, he produced 48 individual Intercollegiate Boxing Association champions, seven IBA team titles, and a 1932
NCAA team title, and six individual national champions.
o Houck insisted on a class act requiring managers and timekeepers to wear tuxedos at ringside.
- Paul Scally won the NCAA 175lb championship over Red Speigelberg of Washington State in 1941.
- Penn State hosted the 1954 NCAA National Championship tournament in Rec Hall.
- Glenn Hawthorne won an NCAA National Championship at 127lbs in 1947.
- Coach Leo Houck’s teams won the Intercollegiate Boxing Association tournament championship in 1924,
’27, ’29, ’30, ’35, ’36, and 1940.
- “Rags” Madera, John Wert, Fred Washington, and Cal Frank started capturing Intercollegiate Boxing Association titles
in 1924, leading Penn State to its first team crown.
o More than 50 boxers grabbed IBA titles over the next 30 years.
- In 1927 Houck “borrowed” Steve Hamas from the basketball team for a heavyweight bought against Temple
o Hamas won by a knockout and went on to lead Penn State to an Intercollegiate title.
o Hamas would later be a top heavyweight contender in the professional ranks.
- Frank Goodman helped Penn State repeat as IBA champs in 1936 by taking the first of two 135lb titles.
- Steve Hamas earned five varsity letters (boxing, baseball, football, track, and lacrosse) in 1927 and 1929.
o He won the heavyweight intercollegiate title in 1929.
- Chuck Drazenovich won three Intercollegiate titles from 1948-50 and claimed the NCAA national crown in 1950.
- C. R. “Rags” Madera won the heavyweight title at the first Intercollegiate Boxing Association tournament, held at Rec Hall in 1924
- Frank Goodman won consecutive Intercollegiate titles in 1936 and 1937 and captured the NCAA national championship in 1936 at 135 pounds.
- Paul Scally captured an NCAA national championship games held in State College at 175lbs in 1941.
- Strength, Speed, and Smarts:
o Couch Houck stressed boxing over brawling.
o Most lion boxes arrived on campus with no experience.
o Houck pushed his athletes to get in shape and taught them to fight smarter than their opponents in the ring.
o Boxers competed in various weight classes so that athletes faced opponents similar in size.
- Running and jumping rope built foot speed and edurance
- Boxers beat the heavy bag to strengthen their body punches.
- Body punches during a bout help to wear down an opponent.
- They practiced on speed bags to improve hand-eye coordination and punching speed.
- Frank Patrick helped head coach Ed Sulkowski with the boxing team in the early 1950s while searving as backfield coach for Coach Rip Engle’s football team.
- In 1919 boxing is born at Penn State.
o The lions suffer a narrow 4-2 defeat agains Penn in their first bout.
o Dick Harlow coaches men’s boxing thorugh the 1922 season.
- Dick Harlow was a former head football coach.
- In 1923 Leo Houck begins a 26 year tenure as the head coach. He will become known as
the “father of intercollegiate boxing”.
- Couch Houck passes away in 1950.
o Ed Sulkowski goes on to lead the team until 1954 when varsity boxing is discontinued.
- Frank Goodman (135), Russ Criswell (115), Sam Donato (155), and Izzy Richter (unlimited) won individual
crowns as Penn State claimed the 1936 Easter Intercollegiate Boxing Association team title.
- Huge crowds used to pack Rec Hall in the 1930s and 1940s to watch what was then Penn State’s most popular sport.
o Eastern rivals Army, Navy, and Syracuse offered the stiffest competition.
o The lions hosted and won the NCAA’s first championships tournament in 1932.
o Fans were supposed to cheer only between rounds, which was a difficult rule to enforce.
- Middleweight Billy Soose, a Golden Gloves champ, won all 16 of his collegiate bouts by knockout.
o In 1937, Soose knocked Syracuse star Artie McGivern out of the ring.
o Soose then went on to win the World Middleweight Boxing title.
- Al Lewis (145) went undefeated in 1932 and helped the team win the national championship that year.
- Davey Stoop also went undefeated in the 1932 season and won the national title in the 115lb weight class.
- Glenn Hawthorn won 6 of 7 regular season bouts before claiming the Intercollegiate Boxing Association and the NCAA national titles at 130lbs.
o He was named outstanding Lion boxer of 1947.
- Billy Soose retired as the World Boxing Middleweight Champion.
o In 1993, he received the Rocky Marciano Middleweight Award for excellence in the ring.