My informant for this folk term is a student and tour-guide at USC, and told me a bit of history and context of the saying:
He tells me that it’s been a term for the University of Southern California ever since the early 1900’s, when USC came back from behind in a football game and the next day a sports writer proclaimed that the USC football team “fought like Trojans” to come back. After that, the saying was commonplace; meaning that no matter whether you are behind, or the odds are stacked against you, fight on until you succeed.
This mantra has caught on heavily here at USC, and has lasted the test of time and is still a vital internal and promotional term for USC. My informant told me that he says it on every school tour that he gives to prospective students and parents, and feels that it is a special thing that sets USC apart from other universities. “It bonds us together as a community. It’s something we all know and is a part of our lives here,” he said.
Now, the term is applicable in many different areas of university-life, including academics, athletics, and social life. “Whenever I’m on my tour, my friends will see me and yell “Fight On Curt!” with their two fingers in the air making the fight on symbol”. Both the symbol and phrase are equally well known, he says. Recently, USC has launched a campaign that reads “Fight On For a Cure”, in reference to finding a cure for women’s breast cancer. My informant said that it was “cool” to see how it has progressed from just being derived from the wording of a sportswriter to such a vital part of the Trojan community. It is one of the first things you learn on your tours and orientations, and it is one of those things that you will remember about your college experience in the future after graduation, he says.
Being a USC student, I had heard that story on my own tour as a prospective student when I was on my tour around campus. I believe that it is a phenomenal symbolic message to the USC community, and that it is an important piece of folklore that not only has a plethora of different applicable meanings, but also joins us all together as the Trojan community.