Spirited Gift

Spirited Gift

Don Metzger '66, O.D. '67 has had the tail of the original Boxer statue for 45 years. In July, he returned it to Pacific University.

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Boxer is back. At least, part of him.

In July, 45 years after it disappeared from campus, Don Metzger ’66, O.D. ’67 returned the tail of the long-missing Chinese statue that inspired Pacific University’s mascot.

In the time it’s been gone, the tail has traveled the country. It has been fishing in Montana, hidden in Colorado and even lost in the mail for seven years.

Now that it’s home, though, Metzger said he hopes it will inspire other alumni to return the remaining pieces of the statue, believed to include at least a foot and the body.

Metzger didn’t acquire the tail through the traditional Boxer toss. Rather, he said, he was playing poker with some football players in the spring of his senior year. The group had been drinking, and guys were passing out one by one. By the early hours of the morning, only Metzger and a friend, Mike, remained.

“Mike was, to put it kindly, he was pretty drunk. Forgive me, Mike,” Metzger said. “He got up and said, ‘I want to show you something.’ He wasn’t winning. I think that’s probably why he wanted a break in the action. He comes back with (the tail).

“I was pretty impressed. It was the first time I really had it in my hand.”

Shortly thereafter, Mike, too, fell asleep, and Metzger was last-man standing—and holding the Boxer tail. He took it home, expecting to find a crew of football players at his door in the morning. No one came.

When Metzger graduated, he took the tail with him. He joined the Air Force, and Boxer went with him. Later, it followed him to his optometry practice in Denver. 

For the past three years, the tail has been in a motor home with Metzger and his wife as they tour the country. They have meant to bring it home three or four times but have been hampered by weather on each occasion. 

Finally, this summer, Metzger got in touch with a friend, Jon Elston ’66, O.D. ’67, who helped coordinate a hand-off to Pacific staff. 

“I’m a little reluctant to just hand it over,” he admitted, explaining that he was conditioned to expect a fight whenever the statue appeared in public. “When you give it to somebody, you expect a flash and a scrum and somebody to run off with it.”

But, he added, “It’s always been my intention to bring it back.

“I’m hoping that the body is out there and it could be put back together. That would be great for the school.” 

Give back to Boxer Nation | Though much of Boxer has been missing for decades, Boxer Spirit has never left Pacific University. It’s the spirit of caring and service; it’s the instant welcome to all members of the Pacific community and the value of the uniqueness each brings to the family; it’s the love of learning and the excellence alive in us all. When you give to Pacific University, you help another generation of students join the Boxer Nation and share in that spirit. Make a gift today at pacific.edu/giving. (And, if you have the rest of Boxer, we’d like that, too.)


Related stories from 2008:
Traveling with Boxer
Has the Original Boxer Been Found?
What Is It?
From Ore to Iron

Reader memories:
From 2007-08
More about Boxer:
Boxer Central