The Chronicle covered Ray Matulewicz's and Danny Farrar's boxing national championships in 1936.


This week in Duke history: Pair of Duke boxers win individual national titles

Duke boxing? Duke boxing.

Not only were there Blue Devil ‘pugilists’ as The Chronicle put it, but they were also the first individual champions in school history.

As The Chronicle reported April 3, 1936, Duke’s Ray Matulewicz and Danny Farrar won the national titles for 175-pound and 145-pound weight classes, respectively. The school cancelled the program just four years later, and in hindsight, the NCAA did something quite interesting.

The school cancelled the program, according to former Duke boxer Al Mann in his book "The Six-Minute Fraternity", because it “was afraid that some visiting contestant would get hurt and the University officials did not want to face any such happenings."

The NCAA also canceled the entire sport in 1961, but years later, the NCAA went back and awarded teams unofficial national titles based on a summation of individual scores from each year.

In 1936, Duke finished second nationally.

As for Matulewicz and Farrar, Matulewicz would go on to change his name to Mat Raymond after he went professional and had won another NCAA title in 1937. He was supposed to go to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, but because of a mix-up and organizational error on the part of the U.S. Olympic Committee, he never had that chance.

Farrar, the son of an Italian shoemaker, was known as a "brilliant southpaw" according to The Chronicle with a quick double left hook, and Matulewicz was one of nine children of a coal miner. Times certainly have changed at Duke.

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