Douglas High grad Danny Rich turned to collegiate boxing and hasn’t looked back
Contact sports have always been in Danny Rich’s nature.
The 2017 Douglas High School graduate spent two years with the Tiger varsity football team, clearing lanes and keeping his quarterback protected as an offensive lineman.
Now, Rich’s only protection package is his two arms and his ability to steer clear of opposing fists.
A student at the University of Nevada, Rich is also a full-time athlete with the UNR boxing team.
Without a boxing background, the Wolf Pack junior never pictured he would spend six days a week training, but his ambition to be a college athlete turned him on to a new avenue.
“I always loved hitting people,” said Rich. “When I came to college I always knew I wanted to do something, but I was a 210-pound lineman so I knew I wasn’t a big enough guy to play football.”
Rich made his decision and walked into the boxing gym in January of his freshman year and spent the next 10 months fully submerged in training before his first fight as a sophomore in November 2018.
The desire to box
Rich’s start in boxing came with less regulation.
After Rich and a high school classmate chose to settle their differences in a backyard, he realized the triumphs of his individual successes trumped any other.
The fight showed Rich what success was like on an individual level and it quickly triggered a desire for more.
“When I won that it was all on me,” said Rich. “For boxing, I realized when you win it’s all on you and when you lose it’s all on you.”
After joining the Wolf Pack boxing team, Rich soon realized results are based on self-motivation.
He was the only one who could truly push himself to get better.
Boxing practice runs six days a week for Rich and the Nevada junior also runs three miles a day on top of the two-hour practices.
Rich spent the better part of those 10 months earning the respect of the elder members of the team and the coaching staff in order to get his first bout scheduled.
“You basically get your (butt) kicked for about six months and then you start realizing different things, how to defend, how to block,” said Rich. “You definitely don’t just get respect.”
Collegiate boxing isn’t structured like professional boxing.
The National Collegiate Boxing Association rules call for three, 2-minute rounds for each fight and Rich says he will fight anywhere from four to six times prior to the regional meet.
With short and limited rounds, collegiate boxers are forced into action quickly.
“We’ve only got three rounds so you don’t really have time to feel each other out,” said Rich. “You have to get everything in, in the short time you have. Don’t wait to get hit, be the aggressor.”
The tight window means boxers are forced to attack early and often.
As the season builds toward its climax, quick fights have quicker turnarounds as regionals require boxer to fight two bouts in two days. In order to win a national title, Rich would have to win three more fights on consecutive days just three weeks after regionals.
Successes and setbacks
Since November 2018 Rich has sniffed the collegiate athletic achievements he dreamt of in high school.
Danny won his first three fights in the ring in the 185-pound weight class.
A scheduled fight in Seattle brought Rich’s first loss and a swollen hand caught the fighter’s attention afterward.
However, the next card was on home soil in Reno and Rich said he had gone out of his way to get as many friends and family in attendance as possible.
“They’re big fights when it comes to people at home,” Rich said. “I told everyone I knew I was having a fight the next week so I kept telling myself it (my hand) was sprained.”
So, Rich opted to push through the pain.
He prevailed over Biron McNeely from the U.S. Naval Academy, but in doing so fractured his hand and was forced to withdraw from regionals.
McNeely took Rich’s spot in regionals and went on to win the NCBA Championship at 185 pounds. The Wolf Pack boxer not only watched him win the belt, but McNeely did so in Reno where the title fights were being held for the first time in 10 years.
Knowing he had beaten a national champ has only fueled Rich.
“I just really want that national belt,” said Rich.
Rich said injuries he’s sustained while boxing are worries for his post-boxing life — outside of damage to his hands.
While Danny pushes his concerns aside for a chance at a national title, his father feels every bit of the tension his son sets aside.
“It’s not easy. It’s never been easy,” said Danny’s father, Ted. “At the beginning of each bout, you wonder is he about to get destroyed. You just don’t know. … The three fights I’ve seen, he’s got the upperhand right away.”
Danny’s next bout is in his home arena and scheduled for Jan. 31 at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Reno. The West Regional bouts will be held March 12-14 at the same location.