The 2012 All Army boxing match kicked off at the Fort Huachuca Army post, pitting soldier against soldier in the boxing ring.
35 U.S. soldiers from army posts all over the world, gathered in Cochise County for the week long training camp and championship tournaments.
Army boxing began at Ft. Huachuca in 1987 and has gone on to become a prestigious sport, with many soldiers going on to the Olympics and winning medals for the US.
Staff described their boxers as some of the best amateur boxers in the world.
Some likened the training to be similar to boot camp. It required the same amount of dedication, perseverance, and hard work to make it to into the ring.
Staff Sgt. Charles Leverette who coached the boxers said the event was like the “Superbowl” of the army. He described Wednesday night’s matches as the play-offs, with the “Superbowl” to take place on Saturday.
Soldiers who were taking part in the matches said they were honored to part of a prestigious event.
Specialist Milton Watkins, who just got back to the U.S. from Kuwait less than a month ago, described the boxing camp as being a good way to release stress, escape from the realities of everyday life, and said it was healing. “It is an honor. A fighter is a fighter,” said Watkins. Watkins prayed that he would go on to win medals in the Olympics. Unfortunately, he lost the match on Wednesday night.
Sgt. Charles Blackwell, a reservist from Tucson was also vying for a medal. “I’ll be getting my second shot this March for the U.S. Olympics, but it all starts right here. I have to win first at All Army,” said Blackwell.
Army recruiters took advantage of the event to bring fresh recruits in to watch the tournament, hoping to show them a different side of the Army.
Recruit Kent Wittzen said he was impressed. “It really inspires me to do more,” said Wittzen, who planned to leave for training in April.
The soldiers who were used to living in a world of discipline and rank were able to forget about titles, and give it their all in the ring. Some matches consisted of lower ranking soldiers fighting higher ranking officials in the army.
“Once you put those gloves on, rank is out the door. May the best man win,” said Coach Leverette. “I actually got to hit an NCO without getting into trouble,” joked Specialist Watkins.
Competition aside, soldiers knew that their first mission was to serve the country. “If something happens, and they’re needed in the middle of this training, they’ll immediately leave. That’s their first priority,” said Leslie Woods, the sports director of the Fort Huachuca Sports and Aquatic Center.
This tournament is dedicated to the memory of a fallen soldier, who died during combat last year. Staff Sgt. Quadi Hudgins was killed in action on April, 2011. He was soldier, a family man, and an army boxer.
The winners of this tournament will go on to Camp Pendleton to compete in the Armed Forces Championship, in two weeks.
Soldiers described the rivalry between them, the Marines, and the Air Force boxing teams as intense.
The final World Military Championship was set to be held in Kazakhstan, in March.
Source: Sonu Wasy, KOLD