Chris Algieri wasn't the only Stony Brook alum visiting campus Saturday for the first time since his graduation during "Wolfstock" Homecoming festivities before the Seawolves faced William & Mary at LaValle Stadium. But the Huntington boxer holds the distinction of being the only SBU grad with a world boxing title and a date to fight WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao Nov. 22 in Macao, China.
For that achievement, Algieri was honored as Stony Brook's Alumnus of the Game and spent the day with SBU president Samuel L. Stanley, who received a replica of Algieri's WBO junior welterweight title belt in a halftime ceremony. Algieri also announced he is funding a "Chris Algieri champion lifestyle scholarship."
It was just the latest in a long line of promotional appearances for Algieri since he upset Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO 140-pound title in June.
But returning to Stony Brook for the first time since his 2007 graduation -- "Chris graduated with honors,"Stanley noted proudly -- took on special significance because it's such a big part of the backstory HBO plans to describe in the weeks leading up to his improbable matchup with Pacquiao. In fact, an HBO crew accompanied Algieri on the trip, and he was met by a TV crew from Pacquiao's native Philippines.
"It is apparently a 'strange' thing to see," Algieri said of the story of a college grad from the suburbs rising to the top in a rough-and-tumble sport like boxing. "I just think of it as being an athlete and keeping it kind of separate, but apparently, it's a big deal. And for me, Stony Brook was a big deal, so, why not be something that is a major part of who I am and my journey."
Algieri not only received a B.S. in Health Care Management from SBU but later added a master's degree in clinical nutrition from NYIT. He put his education to use as a professional nutritionist even as he was building his boxing career. The drive back to the campus stirred memories for Algieri of his days as a commuter student.
Of course, the campus and athletic program have changed dramatically since he was a student, who also was a professional kickboxing champion at that point in his life. "I remember doing a lot of my fitness training in this place," Algieri said. "I was running my sprints on the indoor track. I was out here looking at the [football] field as they were building it. I thought, 'Wow, this is an incredible stadium being built.' To see where they've come and where they've come from is very interesting and really cool for me, especially since I dropped some sweat here.
"I look back on my time here, and I see what this institution has grown into, and it's a point of pride for me for sure."