FORT HOOD, Texas (March 5, 2009) -- Other than a delay caused after bad weather forced the cancellation of a flight that included eight fighters from Fort Bragg, N.C., the Fort Hood, Texas, Boxing Smoker preliminaries got underway as planned Monday in Abrams Physical Fitness Center.

Preliminary rounds for the free public event ended yesterday and the championship fights start at 7 p.m. today.

"Rather than miss the tournament, they retained a van and have come cross country. They should arrive shortly but will have to fight today based on their weight classes," said Marcus Gengler, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who is the action officer for the semi-annual III Corps boxing tournament.

"We've held up a bit today to allow them to get here, get weighed in and do their medical check, Gengler said shortly after noon when he called a 90-minute break in the three-ring boxing action.

Weigh-ins for the tournament began Sunday.

In addition to 64 male Soldiers from Fort Hood, other posts represented in the tournament include: three fighters with the 48th Chemical Brigade from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds; 14 from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and one with the 48th Chemical Brigade at Fort Bliss; eight from Fort Bragg; one from Fort Drum's 42nd Chemical Brigade; 11 from Fort Sill's 214th Fires Brigade; and two stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., from the 36th Engineer Brigade, Gengler said.

He said 14 women also had registered for the tournament, including nine from Fort Hood.

"I think all the fights are going to be competitive; it'll be a very exciting fight," predicted Winston Parham, who represents the company that won the contract to provide the 10 coaches and trainers who have worked with boxers at Fort Hood in makeshift boxing camps for about a month to prepare them for the tournament.

During preliminary matches Monday morning, Jason Trynosky, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, III Corps, defeated another Fort Hood boxer, Matthew Ashe, in the 201-lb. heavyweight division.

After the fight, Trynosky said his biggest advantage so far has been "Being a southpaw; the righties don't know exactly how to handle that just yet."

Trynosky said Monday morning's fight was the third of his life; the other two came during sparring matches held during the past two weeks of training on post.

After Ashe took a mandatory eight-count due to a blow to the head, referees stopped the fight and Trynosky was declared the winner.

In another heavyweight fight, trainers threw in the towel for Christian Santos, of Fort Lewis, Ky., after medics determined he had torn a ligament in his shoulder during his bout with Ossie Sykes, 14th Infantry Company, 89th Military Police Brigade.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Santos said he is more comfortable competing in mixed martial arts than boxing.

He won the light-heavyweight division in the Army Combatives Tournament held at Fort Hood in November.

Before the fight was stopped, Sykes appeared to have been rallying after an initial flurry of blows from Santos.

"He rushed me and I wasn't ready for him... then I took a step back and started using my reach advantage to take control of the fight," Sykes said.

One of the trainers, Eric Estrada, a Warrior Training Unit squad leader, said the post's boxers have been looking pretty good. "We had about 120 who started out and gradually, through attrition, the best are what's left," he said.

Like most of the other coaches, Estrada is an experienced boxer. He said he won his weight division in the Louisiana Golden Gloves tournament five times and the National AAU Championships (now called the U.S.A. Boxing National Championships) twice.

On Friday, the last training day before the fight, several of the post's nine women boxers were working out in the gym.

Although she sports a World War II "Rosie the Riveter" tattoo on her right shoulder, Jennifer Turnipseed, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th ESC rear detachment, acknowledged she retains a fear of getting hit.

Her nose was broken during her last boxing match at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. She also participated in tough man contests while deployed.

"I have to get over the fear of getting it broken again. I'm not quite sure why I'm here but I've got a decent jab and enjoy the workout and sparring."

Assistant boxing coach Samuel Dancer, HHC, III Corps, understands Turnipseed's qualms.

"The fear of getting hit is a hard thing to overcome. I feel if we had had a little longer (for training) we would have kept more people," he said Monday.

Dancer began his fighting career by Thai boxing in the 1990s and then competed as an amateur boxer at Fort Stewart, Ga., before qualifying for the All-Army Boxing Team in 1996.

Despite the month of training, "Most of the guys we started with (80-90 percent) had no experience at all. They've made vast improvements," Parham said.

Page last updated Thu March 5th, 2009 at 17:38