Soldier trains boxer in Iraq for Watertown bout
January 14, 2010
Booted from high school, in chronic trouble with the law, Steven Badgley enlisted in the Army years ago, hoping to get his life on track. Grit turned the struggling young private into an accomplished Army officer, certified boxing trainer and two-time Golden Gloves champion.
This Saturday, he'll watch one of more than a dozen Soldiers he trained while stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq, compete in a Golden Glove qualifying event that he anticipates will put Fort Drum boxers on the map.
"This event is really big," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steven Badgley, a 30-year-old helicopter pilot with 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment. "Being involved in the Golden Gloves tournament (is) a really good status thing."
Saturday's event at the Watertown Fairgrounds exhibition hall will be the first time that a New York State Amateur Boxing Championship qualifier takes place in Watertown. It will be hosted by Watertown Area Boxing Club, a nonprofit organization where Badgley was certified as an instructor and now serves as a coach.
As many as half a dozen Fort Drum Soldiers train at the WABC at any time.
Johnny Pepe, president and head coach of WABC, said Badgley has been a great coach and addition to the boxing club.
"He has been an inspiration to all the boxers and goes over and beyond with making extra time (to) work with the fighters before a big match ... pushing the fighters to their limits and beyond," he said.
While in Iraq last year, Badgley attracted more than 500 cheering troops to a boxing "smoker," or unsanctioned exhibition, that he helped organize in the sand.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Gaudet of 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, who fought in one of the 12 amateur bouts that night and won, was not even a boxer until Badgley trained him in Iraq.
"Steve put me up against a guy who had already fought a whole bunch of amateur fights," said Gaudet, one of two Fort Drum Soldiers slated to appear in the ring this Saturday. "He trained me for four or five months before the smoker, and I actually won."
"Steve's not hard on you, but he wants what's best for you," he said.
Also scheduled to fight Saturday night in another class is Pfc. Marcus Lacy of 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment. Badgley will serve as the primary coach for both Soldiers.
Winners of Saturday's bouts will advance to the final rounds of the New York State Golden Gloves in February at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona.
General admission to this Saturday's event is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available for purchase at Bolton's Pharmacy, AAMCO, Nelson's Dry Cleaners, or by calling the WABC at 783-4980.
According to fight organizers, boxing fans can purchase limited ringside tickets for $30 and attend a dinner Friday night to meet two-time heavyweight boxing champion "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon, along with other boxing celebrities, such as Greg Sorrentino, former New York state light heavyweight champion and Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
Beyond this weekend's event, Badgley, who trained with 2004 Olympic hopefuls while boxing for the Army at Fort Carson, Colo., said he aspires to one day compete at the professional level.
Until then, he's happy to continue succeeding as a Soldier, trainer and pilot.
"I wasn't the brightest kid as a teenager. I got kicked out of school. I kept getting arrested," he said. "But all the stuff from the past began to fall off after I got in the Army."