Many young athletes dream of being a character in a video game; not many can actually put themselves in one. Stephen White, a sophomore from Camden, however, has an eye for graphic design and a proven skill in boxing.
White has been boxing for almost nine years and intends to box professionally after graduation. With his graphic design degree, he could even make his own video game.
“I want to create the art that’s within the game… whether it be concept art to start with – sketches and detailing – to the environment, the creatures themselves, the people themselves, and then being able to animate them and make them come alive,” said White, who is focusing his artistic talent on learning to design video games. “Maybe I’ll even work on a boxing game, making myself the main character of course.”
White discovered boxing after an older student began bullying his younger brother. A conversation with the bully led to information about the school boxing team, and White and his brother were both eager to sign up. Boxing became a family affair after the middle school coach resigned and White’s parents and older sister took over to direct the team. “It was something that held our family together, and having that base and that structure was nice for us,” he said.
While there is no official boxing team at UT Martin, White and several of his former Camden High School teammates still practice together in the Student Recreation Center on campus. They even have plans to bring boxing into the greater Martin community. “We’re going to try to start a non-profit organization… and open up an actual boxing building here in Martin,” he said. “I want to open up a youth boxing program and train younger people and actually give something to society like boxing gave to me when I was younger.”
White has plans to make a name for himself in the boxing world after graduation. “I want to be able to graduate college first and have my bachelor’s degree in graphic design … but then I want to be a professional boxer. I want to go out and make a name for myself (in the boxing world). … I want to be known (like the greats) and be on those trivia games in the sports section,” he said.
He has a number of amateur boxing titles already under his belt, including two golden gloves, three silver gloves and three Halloween Bash wins. He also placed at the Junior Olympics in Tennessee in 2012 (125 weight class) and competed in Title Nationals that same year.
In addition to boxing titles, White also holds several regional awards for his artwork. Inspired by his parents, who are both artistic, White spent his childhood trying to recreate basic artwork on paper. “Just being able to create something that looked real on paper really interested me,” he said. “When I got to high school my art really started to take off. I ended up joining two Congressional art shows, which I won for my school and the surrounding schools. For both of them I made it to Jackson, which was the next district up.” White won the Jackson district competitions and advanced to the next round. “I ultimately lost, but it was cool that I made it that far. I was able to look at the types of art from other people and be able to say ‘I’m really at this level.’”
“Coming into college, I knew creating art was what I wanted to do. Being able to come in and say that I’m a Congressional art show winner really helped,” said White. “To hear that the art department here and the professors really think I have a lot of potential really helps; it drives me forward.” White credits the UT Martin art faculty with showing him how to incorporate color into his previously black-and-white artwork, and how to use computer programs to make that artwork come to life in a multi-dimensional world.
“Graphic design is not a still field,” he explained. “It’s not something where you can go to one place and stop there. You have to continuously be pushing forward. … I chose UT Martin because it was something that was affordable... and I heard the art department was great. I’ve been able to work with a lot of new types of art, and having that base has really helped my design work.”
White expects to move to California or New York after his boxing days are over to pursue job opportunities in the video graphics field. And who knows, maybe employers will recognize his name from Trivial Pursuit. Question: “Who holds the highest number of boxing championships since 2000?” Answer: “Stephen White.”
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