According to junior Taahir Muhammad, the only place to be is at the top – and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there. Boxing is his number one passion in life, followed closely by environmental awareness, but he still makes time to pursue many other interests and build relationships with his family at The University of Olivet. It all started when Taahir was attending a Division I university near his hometown in New Jersey and received an email from OC head boxing coach Loren Partlo.
“I’ve been training in mixed martial arts since I was 9-years-old and chose to focus on boxing a few years ago. I love to challenge myself and boxing has shown me what I am capable of,” Taahir said. “I continued to box in college, but still felt like I wanted to experience more out of life. When Coach Partlo contacted me, I thought it was awesome to receive a scholarship for boxing and was excited to see what OC had to offer. The transfer felt unnatural at first, but now I’ve gotten close with my teammates and really enjoy the tight-knit community feel here.”
Hesitant at first, Taahir moved onto campus without even visiting first. He couldn’t help but feel lonely in the small town compared to the east coast life he was used to. Jumping in a new ring, Taahir faced what he thought would be his biggest challenge: making friends and finding ways to get involved with student life. However, it wasn’t long before Taahir had bonded with his teammates and even began building relationships with the brothers of ELITE, a Greek organization focused on creating an understanding between all students with an emphasis on multicultural awareness.
OC Becomes Family
Taahir quickly realized that Olivet was not at all the secluded and sheltered town he mistakenly took it for. After just two years on campus, he has firmly embedded himself on campus by officially pledging to ELITE and joining the resident adviser staff. He was even selected for the invitation-only President’s Leadership Institute, a yearlong training program dedicated to developing top leadership in Olivet’s students, as well as enabling them to become the principal professional and community leaders of the future. Most recently, Taahir earned a spot on OC Stories as a student blogger, sharing a glimpse into life as a Comet through weekly blogs and special vlogs.
“I went from not feeling sure of The University of Olivet to feeling like I am part of a family here,” Taahir said. “I have support coming from every side, whether that be my teammates and coach or fellow RAs and professors. I have even gotten to know President Corey on a first name basis. There’s unity here, not to mention peace and safety, and I love that.”
In the classroom, Taahir is pursuing a degree in environmental science and is always brainstorming ways that he can live a more sustaining lifestyle. Recognizing that the health of the Earth is not a priority for everyone, Taahir wants to instill the importance of caring for nature. He hopes that someday he can use boxing as a larger platform to share environmental awareness.
Winning in the Ring
Taahir has accomplished great things while wearing his gloves since coming to OC. Utilizing the specialized training facility just steps from his dorm room and getting an extra push from his teammates have been his recipe for success. Boxing close to the same weight bracket as junior Ronnie Lord, Taahir says the friendly competition between the two pushes each of them to always do their best. Both Ronnie and Taahir, along with many other members of the boxing team, hold national titles and championship belts. With 18 fights under his belt, 16 resulting in victory, Taahir knows he is on the right path. He was even named the Open Fighter of the Night at last year’s Michigan Golden Gloves Championships – but he isn’t stopping there.
Over the summer, Taahir stepped his training up a notch and has even dropped a weight class to become more competitive. He has already been scoping out potential bouts for this fall and has a goal to compete in at least 10 by the end of the year. The qualifying matches for the USA team will begin in October, and Taahir is ready to fight for his spot, the first step in making it to the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“No matter what your passion is, learn to look forward to the challenges,” Taahir advised. “You are always going to face challenges, but you have to believe you can overcome anything. When you see an obstacle, run toward it instead of shying away; you’ll come out as a better and stronger person. Be yourself and never give up – that’s the key to success and happiness.”
Are you ready for the next challenge? Learn more about becoming a Comet by visiting campus or applying. Check out special Comet Days or connect with an OC admissions rep at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org to take your first step toward achieving your dreams.