Skip to main content

Pacific University Boxer Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-95

Scope and Contents

This collection includes clippings from newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and other publications related to Boxer. Two videorecordings and some original letters and drafts of articles about Boxer are also included. The documents include information on Boxer Tosses and other events when the original Boxer appeared, as well as stories about Boxer and research files on the mascot's history and disappearance. Most of the files were compiled by the University Archives over time, and are partly made of up photocopies from other sources. Dozens of original photographs of Boxer are also housed in the Archives; scanned versions can be viewed at http://washingtoncountyheritage.org

Dates

  • 1900-2012

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Pacific University owns the copyright to some, but not all, of the materials housed in its archives. Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of Pacific University is retained by Pacific University and requires its permission for publication. Copyright status for other collection materials varies. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Historical Note

"Boxer" has been the mascot of Pacific University since 1900: on an unofficial basis from 1900-1967; and on an official basis since then. Known as a symbol of the university, Boxer was a bronze Chinese statue that was passed among students and alumni. Missing since 1969, the statue's current whereabouts are unknown, though fragments of his body have been returned to Pacific University over time.

Boxer is a "Qilin" (chee-lin), or mythical beast from Chinese legend, that combines properties from several different animals. He matched the classic representation of a qilin: “The body resembles that of a deer with scales, horns in the certain of its head, a tail of an ox, a forehead of a wolf, hooves of a horse, and backward antlers” (Fang, Jing Pei. Symbols and rebuses in Chinese Art: Figures, Bugs, Beasts, and Flowers.Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2004. p. 156).

Around 1881, Reverend J. E. Walker, who was a missionary and a Pacific University alumnus, bought the statue from an apothecary in Shaowu, China. Years later, J. E. Walker described Boxer in a letter to Dean H. L. Bates:

"It was an heir loom in one of the old Shaowu families who came to Sahowu many generations ago. Such figures are used as signs by first-class drug stores, and stand on the counter. [...] I paid five dollars for him; but doubtless he ought to be worth ten times or twenty times this amount at present. [...] On gala days Boxer would have sticks of burning punk down in his body, the smoke from which would pour out of his nostrils, and so add to his formidable appearance." (4 April 1921 Letter to Dean Bates, reprinted in a newspaper article)

J. E. Walker sent the statue back to his mother, Mary Walker. She donated it to Pacific University sometime between 1896-1898, and it was placed in the University's chapel. In 1900, Richard Faulkner, class of 1902, swiped the statue, claiming it was the mascot of his class. This began the tradition of stealing Boxer. At first, the students referred to the statue as "Our College Spirit," but in 1908, writers for the student newspaper nicknamed him "Boxer" after the Boxer Rebellion in China. From the 1900s through the 1960s, Pacific University students followed a tradition of stealing the Boxer statue from their classmates, hiding it, and then "flashing" it on campus. Fraternity members -- and sometimes sorority and women's dormitory members -- would form teams in order to capture and conceal the statue. Boxer would lie hidden for months or years, and then would suddenly reappear in a "Boxer Flash" (showing of the statue) or "Boxer Toss" (giving Boxer up for capture) on campus. These events would draw dozens of students to brawl over the statue, who sometimes fought for hours before one team emerged as the new keeper of Boxer. In the process of fighting over Boxer, his bronze body was repeatedly torn apart, with his tail, ears, legs and head all being separated from the body at one time or another. Many, but not all, of the parts were welded and re-welded back onto the body over time.

The final Boxer Toss occured in 1969. It took place one day after an anti-war demonstration, which raised tensions between students who sympathised with the peace movement, and those students (mostly fraternity members) who supported the Toss. The last known carrier of Boxer was a member of the Black Student Union. When Boxer remained hidden for months and years afterwards, other Black Student Union members said that they would never flash Boxer again, and that they wished to end the "morbid, barbaric tradition" of the Boxer Toss. As of 2017, the original Boxer statue has not resurfaced, though one ear, the tail and one hoof have been returned.

Several substitutes for the original Boxer have been created over time. "Ming," a bronze statue that is somewhat similar to Boxer, was used as a replacement when Boxer went missing for several years in the 1940s; it now resides in the Old College Hall Museum. A carved wooden statue that looks similar to Boxer was donated in the 1970s, and in 1983, a bronze "Boxer II" was created as a copy of the original. None of these completely succeeded in replacing the original. Attitudes towards the fighting involved in Boxer Tosses changed as well. When students brawled over Boxer II in the 1980s, many students and alumni wrote letters to the editor of the student newspaper complaining about the violence. University administrators were also worried about the potential for student injuries and lawsuits. In 1994, the Undergraduate Community Council recommended to the University Council to make the Boxer Toss a "non-sanctioned event", and participation in one was considered a violation of the student code of conduct. No further Boxer Tosses have been held since then. Fragments of the original Boxer are on permanent display however, and larger versions of the Boxer statue have been installed on campus. His image is also used in University branding.

Extent

0.5 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

English

Summary

"Boxer," a bronze Chinese statue that was passed among Pacific University students and alumni, has been the school's mascot since the early 1900s. This collection is a compilation of news clippings, letters, research notes and articles about Boxer, documenting the mascot's history.

Accruals

Accruals are expected.
Title
Guide to the Pacific University Boxer Collection
Status
In Progress
Author
Eva Guggemos
Date
2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Sponsor
Sponsored by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Repository Details

Part of the Pacific University Archives Repository

Contact:
2043 College Way
Forest Grove OR 97116 United States