East Carolina University senior Brandon Knox won the U.S. Intercollegiate Boxing Association National Championship competition held April 3-5 at the University of Miami, Florida.
A Salisbury, N.C. native, Knox will graduate in December with a degree in construction management.
He was the only ECU Club Boxer to quality for the national competition. Knox earned a bronze medal at the competition last year and the year before that – in his first year of competition at ECU – he was a nationals runner-up.
He competed in the 125-pound open division weight class, which signifies a boxer has competed in more than 10 bouts.
“Winning the national championship is the highest accomplishment a boxer can obtain in collegiate boxing,” said Knox. “This is why we train all year. It takes tremendous courage to step in that ring and fight another person one on one for three 2-minute rounds in front of several hundred people.”
Knox said he goes through a full range of emotions on the day of a match, especially when a national title is on the line. He said he starts the day anxious and a bit nervous because he is just ready for the fight to begin. But that quickly changes as he moves to the ring.
“I can feel my confidence rising with every step,” he said. “Once I am in the ring, I know the work I have put in and I just believe that I can win. And to be standing there with the referee holding my hand in the air as the winner is an amazing feeling.”
The pressure to win was compounded by some of the faces Knox saw in the audience. Watching the performing in front row seats were Claressa Shields, 2012 Olympic gold medalist; Andre Dirrell, boxing world champion; and Al Bernstein, Showtime boxing sports broadcaster.
Knox said he hopes his story will inspire other students at ECU to take a chance, put in the hard work and training that’s needed and bring another national title to the Pirate Nation.