Boxers win service competition
May 19, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo.---The World Class Athlete Program boxing team didn't enjoy its usual success in the last Olympic-qualifying year. Some of the cause might have been associated with the lack of time the team had to jell together.
This year there could be a serious change as the team has begun its quest to be a dominate contender in the Olympic trials by destroying the competition in the interservice competitions recently. The Army team was as dominant as could be without shutting out the other services completely. The team won nine of a possible 10 medals, which made Basheer Abdullah, WCAP boxing head coach, extremely happy.
"We took first place and defended our title which is what we wanted to do when we went to the competition. We won seven gold medals and two silver medals while placing a fighter in eight of the 10 categories," Abdullah said.
Abdullah said the showing by his team was no surprise for him because this team has something the previous team may not have had. He said this team has veteran leadership and hungry boxers who are determined to bring the Army program back among the elite in USA boxing. Abdullah said he challenges his team daily but also relies on the team to get itself ready for the battles that lie ahead.
"I push these guys all the time to take control of their team and become independent as athletes. I want them to push each other and learn how to make decisions while they are in the ring without needing a lot of input from the coaches. We train our athletes from the physical and mental standpoint so they can learn to be instinctive. There are times when we train them to keep us out of the loop so they can learn to do that," Abdullah said.
One of the fighters that would be good no matter how the coaches wanted the team to perform is Michael Benedosso who this year captured his third interservice championship. Benedosso said he can see how he has progressed over the past few years and so have many of the people that are close to him. He is one of the reasons for optimism in the WCAP camp for this group of athletes.
"My professional development is almost immeasurable. The development I have made over the past three years has been quite remarkable," Benidosso said. "I owe a lot to the guidance and knowledge of the coaching staff and my teammates. I have had several of the coaches I had previously worked with and my parents that have told me they see me now and they can't believe how much better I have gotten in the past three years. I think a lot of my development can be traced to the senior staff of the program, the coaches in the program and teammates like (Alexis) Ramos and (John) Franklin who not only spar with me but give me veteran guidance on how I can improve as a fighter."
Franklin is another of the veterans who said he can definitely see why this team should enjoy a lot of success in the coming months. He said the coaches preach to the team to win one round at a time and not get ahead of themselves and they embrace the philosophy which will begin at the national championships in July.
"This team is a lot bigger than the team that we had four years ago. We have been together for a while and that alone has been a big help for us," Franklin said. "The last time we were in this cycle we had guys coming and going and we didn't have the stability that we have now. We now have guys who are helping to push each other to get better. I believe with this team we have guys with experience and togetherness and we know each other's strength and weaknesses, which means we can help each other get better.
"Our main goal is to stay together and we think that will help us make a better showing at the Olympic trials," he said. "For a few of us guys that have been so close it is our focus to get that national title. We want to bring home that number one team trophy first. When we won it last time it felt so good that I didn't want to let it go."
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.
The seven WCAP boxers advancing are Benedosso, light flyweight; Franklin, flyweight; Connor Johnson, lightweight; Dustin Lara, junior welterweight; Zacchaeus Hardrick, middleweight; Jeffrey Spencer, light heavyweight and Donnie Palmer, super heavyweight. Also from Fort Carson, Ramos will be participating at the nationals in the bantam weight division.