All-Army team wins Armed Forces Boxing Championship
May 5, 2010
By Tim Hipps
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, May 5, 2010) -- Seven Soldiers won their weight classes to lead the All-Army team to victory in the 2010 Armed Forces Boxing Championships April 20-23 at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, Calif.
"Our success is attributed to the sports program that we have in the Army - All-Army Boxing, All-Army Sports and the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program," said WCAP boxing coach Basheer Abdullah, a three-time Olympic coach who led Team USA's boxers at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. "We just have an excellent sports program that contributes to the Army mission.
"These guys take pride in wearing the black and gold and they get pumped up for that Armed Forces rivalry. I think it's one of the best amateur boxing rivalries in this nation."
Two other Soldiers won silver medals to help All-Army take the team title with 15 points, followed by All-Marine Corps (7), All-Navy (5) and All-Air Force (0).
"I was very impressed with the improvement of the other services' teams from the Marine Corps and Navy," Abdullah said. "The Navy was very competitive this year and that's what we need in Armed Forces boxing. We need the other teams to push us in order to make us better for the next level."
<b>Benedosso wins at 108 pounds</b>
First Lt. Michael Benedosso of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colo., won the 108-pound division with a 26-11 victory over Lance Cpl. Rafael Vasquez of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"I didn't think it was one of his best performances, but his experience allowed him to be victorious," Abdullah said. "His opponent was a young, inexperienced boxer. Benedosso also was a little amped-up because of the rivalry with the Marines."
<b>Franklin takes gold at 114</b>
WCAP veteran Sgt. John Franklin, who serves with Benedosso as co-captain of the squad, was uncontested in the 114-pound class. He won an unofficial bout against civilian Ricardo Rodriguez, 22-11, on the championship card April 23 at Warfield Gymnasium.
"That gave him a workout, but it still wasn't Franklin's best performance," Abdullah said. "The last time he competed at 114 was at the National Police Athlete League Championship in Oxnard almost a year ago when he won the silver medal.
"In order for him to really have a shot at making the Olympic team, he has to get stronger, so I'm depending on our strength and conditioning trainer, Master Sgt. [Mike] Mielke, to get him some more endurance to compete at the national level. He needs to strengthen his third round in order to become a national champ."
<b>Ramos wins 123-pound title</b>
Former WCAP boxer Sgt. Alexis Ramos defeated Seaman Anthony Aguirre of USS Theodore Roosevelt, 60-12, for the 123-pound title.
"He was busy," Abdullah said. "Ramos was impressive throughout the training camp, at the All-Army Box-offs, and at the Armed Forces Championships. He's a former WCAP athlete, so he appeared to be a little hungry, a little motivated, and wanted to show us that we made a mistake by releasing him. We're looking forward to getting him to the nationals to see how hungry he really is."
<b>Spencer takes gold at 178</b>
WCAP Spc. Jeffrey Spencer won the 178-pound division with an 8-3 victory over Airman 1st Class Larry Hampp, a defensive-minded boxer from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Two days earlier, Spencer rallied from an 8-8 tie for an 18-11 victory over Seaman Brandon Wicker of Camp Lejeune to advance to the finals.
"That was a very impressive bout," Abdullah said. "The Navy boxer was a very talented boxer. Spencer had to really show that he is a true hopeful to make the Olympic team in that particular bout. He needed to be disciplined and maintain his composure. He showed a lot of growth and maturity in that bout."
<b>Palmer takes super heavyweight, Blackwell 201 title</b>
Spc. Donnie Palmer of the WCAP conditional program was uncontested in the super heavyweight division. On championship night, Palmer lost a 19-6 decision to civilian David Imoesiri in an unofficial bout.
Pfc. Charles Blackwell, an Army Reserve Soldier from Arizona, prevailed at 201 pounds when the referee stopped his championship bout at 2:26 of the first round against Seaman Tyron Hunter of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
"Both of those guys were pitching and catching," Abdullah said. "It was exciting. Both of them are very experienced boxers, and Blackwell just happened to deliver the bigger blow in that bout. I was impressed with how he finished once he got him in trouble. He's another Soldier we have our eye on for WCAP. He will be evaluated all the way through nationals."
Recently redeployed Spc. Samuel Vasquez of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard prevailed over Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Padilla of Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Calif., when the referee stopped their 152-pound finale at 45 seconds of the third round.
"He is awesome," Abdullah said with a chuckle. "He got his package in for WCAP and we can't wait to get him signed. When he makes it here on the ground, he will be one of our strongest hopefuls to make the Olympic team.
"I'm excited about getting him. He definitely will bring credibility to our program. He's ready. We just have to correct a few mistakes that he's making, but he definitely has the tools to compete for that Olympic spot."
<b>Two take silver</b>
WCAP Spc. Conner Johnson lost 39-7 to Lance Cpl. Tommy Roque of Camp Lejeune in the 132-pound final. WCAP Spc. Dustin Lara lost 18-7 to Senior Airman Matthew McCoy of Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, at 141 pounds.
<b>11 go to Nationals</b>
Eleven Soldiers - seven from WCAP and four from All-Army - are scheduled to compete in the 2010 U.S. National Boxing Championships July 12-17 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"We're looking forward to rebounding from that bad performance we had last year at nationals," Abdullah said. "We're excited. I think we're taking a stronger team to the nationals so we're looking for some redemption."
<b>Female boxer eyes Olympics</b>
Spc. Caroline Barry of the Colorado National Guard defeated a Navy boxer in a female exhibition bout when the referee stopped their contest in the fourth round with Barry leading 40-2. Barry is a nine-time national champion from the U.S. National, Police Athletic League and Golden Gloves circuits.
Abdullah said he plans to help her win a 10th national title for the U.S. Army.
Barry won a silver medal at the 2006 Pan American Boxing Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and competed that year at the World Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India.
"She moved from Tennessee and has been training with us in Colorado, hoping that I can take her to the next level and help her become a world champion," Abdullah said. "When they announced women's boxing as the next Olympic sport, she decided the best way to do it is through the Army."