Donald R. Theophilus Boxing Photograph Collection

Photographs of University of Idaho Boxers and Boxing Teams, 1934 - 1953

Contents: About Donald R. Theophilus (Jr.) | About the University of Idaho Boxing Team | Sources | Tech

About Donald R. Theophilus (Jr.)

It is unclear whether this collection originated from Donald R. Theophilus or Donald R. Theophilus, Jr.

Donald R. Theophilus, Jr. was born on September 6, 1931 in Moscow, Idaho (where he is buried) and died August 17, 1983 at age 51.1 He was the son of Donald R. Theophilus, (January 6, 1889 – May 11, 1970) who most notably served as President of University of Idaho from 1954-1965.2 President Theophilus has long been “remembered for his commitment” to the university mission as a land-grant institution being “responsible for not only educating its students but also providing extension services for residents throughout the state.”3 Theophilus later wrote that “the primary objectives of the University have always been the achievement and extension of excellence in learning and in research so that those it serves can be better citizens, make a better living, live better and be more useful and worthy individuals.”3 It is said that “he pursued that mission by expanding adult education statewide and working to reopen Lewis-Clark Normal School to train teachers.”3

Upon President Theophilus’ retirement in 1965, Idaho Governor Robert E. Smylie said of him, “No one in Idaho’s history has been able to do so much for so many for so long.”3

University of Idaho 1950 boxing squad
University of Idaho 1950 boxing squad

About the University of Idaho Boxing Team

The following history is adapted from this article from the University of Idaho Argonaut Newspaper. For an extensive history, please refer to the article.

Boxing at the University of Idaho was extremely popular between the 1930s-1950s where thousands of fans from across North Idaho would gather in Memorial Gym to watch boxing matches. The university boxing team won a total of 19 national championships and many Pacific Coast Championships under coaches Frank Young and Bob Knox.4 The university boxing teams produced national champions such as Herb Carlson, Ted Kara, and Laune Erickson.4

President Theophilus wrote a biography on boxing coach Louis “Louie” August, who is credited with introducing a boxing club to the university in 1932 – “with the approval of then Director of Athletics Leo Calland, August placed an ad in The Argonaut, and boxing at UI was born. Three students came out to train with August, who had a Pacific Coast AAU championship to his name already. By February 1933, the crop had grown by 22. After a successful exhibition fight drew 500 fans, August sought out local competition and Washington State College, less than 10 miles away in Pullman, seemed a perfect fit.”4 The two schools sparred each other frequently while boxing at the University of Idaho continued.

The boxing club was “initially…funded by the physical education department but in 1934, was moved to ASUI’s payroll. That spring, WSU coach Isaac Deeter suggested to August that his club transition to a full-fledged collegiate program.”4

Louie Denton gave the University of Idaho its first Pacific Coast title when he won the “145-pound championship.” Rolly Shumway gave the university its first national title in 1937 at 145 pounds and Julian “Bud” Benoit gave the university its second national title in 1938 at 135 pounds.4

Theodore “Ted” Kara and his brother Frank Kara helped “earn the university’s first team national championship.”4 Ted even made it to the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, but did not win.

As time went on, “the Vandals compiled heaps of national championships as both Kara brothers, Laune Erickson, and John Webster combined to win seven individual titles between 1939 and 1941. Proclaimed the best all-around team in the country, Idaho snapped up team titles in 1940 and 1941.”4

By 1954, there was a national movement to discontinue collegiate boxing and University of Idaho was in agreement. When deciding to drop the sport from the University, President Theophilus wrote, “Spectators should come to a sports contest expecting to watch a demonstration of skill and spirit…Too many spectators come to a boxing match hoping to see someone hurt. Every precaution was taken to protect the collegiate boxer, but I was always afraid that spectators hoping to see destructive force in the ring might be satisfied.”4

By the time boxing ended at the University of Idaho, the team had collected “sixteen individual national titles, three national team titles and 24 total PCC crowns.”4 In 1960, “the NCAA closed up shop after a Wisconsin boxer was killed in the ring.”4

Archival Context

Physical collections are held by Special Collections and Archives.

Sources

Technical Credits - CollectionBuilder

This digital collection is built with CollectionBuilder, an open source tool for creating digital collection and exhibit websites that is developed by faculty librarians at the University of Idaho Library following the Lib-STATIC methodology.

This site is built using CollectionBuilder-CDM which utilizes CONTENTdm APIs to create an engaging “skin” on top of an existing digital collection repository.

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