Philip Brooke works a normal job as a small-animal veterinarian. But after hours, he heads to the Ramsey Student Center, plugs in his playlist and slips on a pair of boxing gloves.
“Cuddling puppies during the day and punching people in the face at night,” Brooke said. “It’s a good mix.”
Growing up in Tucker, Georgia, he watched the “Rocky” movies with his friend, and they would box against pillow cases.
Brooke, 28, started training as a sophomore at the University of Georgia with Chris Jordan, a veteran professional boxer and former boxing instructor at UGA.Why It’s Newsworthy: For amateurs and professionals, boxing isn’t just a simple workout. It provides an outlet for daily stress that clears the mind by pushing the body.
Brooke felt drawn to the sport, and since starting in college, he has stepped into the ring seven times. He lost his first fight, but he wasn’t discouraged.
After winning his next two matches, he traveled to a tournament in College Park, Georgia. He drove down with his coach the day before to find the tournament in a “sketchy” part of town.
They went to an equally “sketchy” bar that had wood boarding all the windows. The room was packed, but one table was empty.
They sat for a few minutes before a woman walked up and said that the table was reserved. The woman was there with her husband to watch their son fight in the tournament.
Eventually, the woman’s husband arrived.
“She turns around and says, ‘Evander,’ and Evander Holyfield walks down and sits next to me,” Brooke said.
Holyfield is the only boxer in history to win the undisputed championship in two weight classes, cruiserweight and heavyweight. In 1997, he fought against Mike Tyson, who bit off part of his ear.
The next day, Brooke fought against a Marine with a record of three wins and no losses. Brooke’s father, who isn’t comfortable with boxing, was in the audience to watch for the first time.
I was still scared as crap,” he said.
Brooke thought back to his conversation with Holyfield and thought that he was in his “metaphorical corner.” He won every round.
Brooke would win his next two fights as well but lost his last boxing match. Since then, Brooke decided to focus on other areas of boxing.
Teaching at UGA
For the majority of his boxing career, Brooke has worked as a boxing instructor at UGA. Though initially hesitant, he has picked up a groove over the years, pairing his students together for drills and closely watching their form and technique.
Scott Tippins, a senior mechanical engineering major, has been boxing for around five years and spent most of his time at UGA under Brooke’s guidance.
“He really breaks down boxing really well,” he said. “He’s helped me quite a bit.”
Tippins, 24, from St. Marys, Georgia, likes that boxing is a change of pace from other cardiovascular exercises like running or cycling.
It’s a great way to go clear my head if I’m working on a difficult problem in class,” he said.
Teaching has pushed Brooke in ways tournaments haven’t. It requires not only the ability to perform but an in-depth knowledge of the sport.
“It’s made me a better boxer as well as better in all other aspects of life,” he said.
Whitley Carpenter is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, English in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and is pursuing a master’s degree in English at the University of Georgia.