Killeen, Texas- In an out-of-the-way shop behind a local mechanic's garage, here, young men jab at punching bags, run in place and pummel speed bags as coaches demonstrate techniques honed by years of training.

For the last nine years, one of these coaches, Sgt. 1st Class Armando Rivera, a Brownsville, Texas native and a fire support non-commissioned officer with 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, has provided guidance to young men and women, training the next generation of boxers and mentoring those who might otherwise be vulnerable to the temptations of street life.

"One of the reasons I do this is because me and my coach love the sport," said Rivera.

"Those of us who have been boxing for a while have a lot to offer this young generation of boxers," he said. "We help them with conditioning, technique and practice".

This is an activity that can teach young people to defend themselves, as well as getting them in excellent shape, explained Rivera.

Rivera now works with a local club called the Miracle Boxing Club, under the supervision of Coach Frank Hall.

"Armando [Rivera] helps out a great deal," said Hall, who has been boxing for nearly 40 years. "He helps me out, especially on days where we get a lot of people. He helps teach them on the bag; the technical stuff."

Rivera has already worked with Hall at this gym for several years.

"When he is here, he helps us out a lot," said Lanardius Palmer, one of the many boxers at the club.

According to Palmer, Rivera helps young boxers practice their techniques with punching mitts, and he helps them improve their conditioning and develop sound nutritional plans.

Rivera said his time in the Army has helped him develop the physical fitness regimen he passes on to young boxers.

In addition to teaching at stateside boxing clubs, Rivera has also coached approximately 50 Soldiers over the course of three deployments.

"This is something I do because I love it," he said. "Once you become a boxer, you want to continue the sport."

Pending future deployments, Rivera hopes to continue coaching at the Miracle Boxing Club for as long as possible.

"This is something that I do that can help keep kids off of the street and build the youth of the community," he said. "It teaches young people discipline."

But it's not all as selfless as it sounds.

"It feels good for me to see my help progress young boxers," he said. "If they win, then we accomplished what we wanted; we did our jobs."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16