Club lays down challenge

Ivy Christianson

Club Boxate, a combination boxing, karate and kung fu studio, is up and running for ISU students.

Primarily a studio specializing in full-contact kickboxing, Club Boxate, 2406 Lincoln Way, has been in Campustown for nearly a year now. However, owner Carl Swenson, does not want students to think his club functions as a business.

“It’s really not a business so much,” Swenson said. “We’re here to help kids.”

Swenson began kickboxing in 1980 and was on the ISU boxing team from 1980-1983, learning under Grand Master Yong Chin Pak, who currently is a faculty member in health and human performance at Iowa State and teaches for the martial arts program on campus.

Swenson left Iowa State for a number of years to raise his son, but has now returned as a senior in integrated studio arts.

Club Boxate specializes in traditional martial arts and boxing techniques. Students attending the $10 sessions will learn stretching, hand strikes, blocks, sweeps, choke-outs, self-defense, sparring, conditioning circuits, bag work, focus pads, weapons and meditation. The trainers, Swenson and Johnny Mascaro, Iowa States’ first boxing coach, work to develop positive spirit and self-confidence in their students.

Typically, Swenson only has a handful of active students at any given time.

“I have 15 active students, and I try not to have more,” he said. “It’s like a waiting list. I do two or three people or one person [for individual sessions]. It’s all private and semi-privates and small groups, meaning three or four people.”

Swenson is a fourth-degree black belt in both karate and kung fu. He has trained with world champion boxer Kerry Roop in Detroit and currently trains with Olympic karate studios in Chicago, Ill. His son, Aaron Swenson, is on the U.S. kickboxing team.

Swenson, has trained his son and watched him fight in all sorts of places.

“[Aaron’s] fought in Portugal and just fought in the USA vs Ireland match in Minneapolis, [Minn.],” he said. His son also teaches at the L.A. Boxing Studio in Chicago.

Adam Packer is another notable student Swenson has taught. Packer is from Gilbert, and cross-trains with Club Boxate and Madrid MMA, but fights for Brutal Genesis.

“He’s a mixed martial artist and does cage fighting out in Boone,” Swenson said.

Packer holds a record of 10-1 and comes to Swenson because he is Packer’s stand-up coach.

“We train real ring fighters; they fight professionally,” Swenson said. “We actually train our people to get in there, but we do have a lot of students come in just to get in shape.”

He also takes the task of booking fights for his students, if that’s what they’re interested in.

Swenson said if ISU students are looking for a great way to get in shape, they’re more than welcome to come to his studio. He does personal or group training by appointment.

Contact Swenson at 515-451-6123 for more information.

Women Don’t Have to Take It Anymore

Johnny Mascaro, current trainer for Club Boxate, not only trains students for the club, but also spearheads a non-profit self-defense program, Women Don’t Have to Take It Anymore, for women who have been abused.

“Not only do we teach women’s boxing for self-defense, but we counsel and advise them as to where they might go for any of their needs,” Mascaro said.

Mascaro started helping young women nearly 50 years ago, his first pupil being his then 9-year-old sister.

“I came home one day from boxing lessons, and my sister had been crying; the boys had been picking on her, and I said, ‘Well let me show you what I learned today,'” he said. “She learned to defend herself, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The program itself is just getting re-established in Ames, so there are currently only three or four students. Women are welcome to come to Club Boxate to work with Mascaro.

“Our thing is to promote ourselves and let the ladies know we’re available; there’s no charge,” he said. “Our main objective is to create an awareness to public and domestic violence and offer some solutions, see what we can do to stop this madness.”

While Mascaro coaches these women in self-defense, he also puts them in proper contact with authorities so they can receive any assistance they need. He has even gone so far as to find them jobs so they don’t stay with their abusers because of financial dependency.

Mascaro does this all in honor of women everywhere, including Therese Ann Lynch, a Des Moines woman shot and killed by her husband in February. He said he hopes to help women recuperate, get their bearings and get their self-esteem back.

To keep the non-profit program afloat, Mascaro and his team organize many fund-raising activities held across the state. With assistance from the fund-raising and through his website.


To learn more about Women Don’t Have to Take It Anymore, visit Mascaro’s website,

Learn more about kickboxing and self-defense

• Call Club Boxate at 515-451-6123.

• Visit

• Check out

• Find information on domestic attacks at