• Jesse Hertzog, (black shirt), an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, competes for the welterweight division in the Army Combatives Championship at Fort Hood, Texas in July.  Hertzog defeated  Adam Minnett of the Minnesota National Guard in the title bout.

    Fort Bragg Soldier wins Army Combatives Championship

    Jesse Hertzog, (black shirt), an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, competes for the welterweight division in the Army Combatives Championship at Fort Hood, Texas in July. Hertzog defeated Adam Minnett of the Minnesota National Guard in the title...

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Sgt. Jesse Hertzog does not take sole credit for winning the welterweight division at the Army Combatives Championship in July at Fort Hood. He has been a Soldier long enough to know that his victory was a team effort.

"I don't really have the background some guys do, but I have outstanding coaches and training buddies," said the 82nd Airborne Division medic. "They are a huge part of why I did so well."

One of the Soldiers with whom Hertzog trained was Sgt. Francisco Mercado, also of the 82nd Abn. Div. Mercado placed second in the featherweight division.

Hertzog won the welterweight championship (155 pounds) in a unanimous decision against Adam Minnett of the Minnesota National Guard.

The two literally bumped into each other during the semi-finals and faced off against each other after winning opposite sides of the bracket, Hertzog said.

"He's really a good guy and we got along before and after the match," he said.

For his victory, Hertzog won a leather and gold-plated belt. It's not the prize that matters most, he said, but rather the camaraderie of training with fellow Soldiers.

Hertzog is a combatives instructor for his division, often teaching at Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center. He said that he attributes victory to the fact that his command sergeant major, Bryant C. Lambert, entrusted him to be an instructor.

"He's really been supportive -- giving me an opportunity as an instructor allowed me to train and coach and get better," Hertzog said.

Jessica Boucher is Hertzog's noncommissioned officer in charge and said his team effort benefits the entire division.

"Every member of my team contributes to the success of this program," said Boucher. "Sergeant Hertzog brings to the table his competence and patience. But most importantly Sergeant Hertzog shares his knowledge with his peers and is always ready to assist them in growing as fighters, which only makes the team better."

Hertzog, who has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grew up in a Family of boxers, but said he did not begin to pursue mixed martial arts seriously until 2009.

It is because of his recent introduction to the sport that he was not expected to win the welterweight division.

"I was kind of a dark horse -- I came out of nowhere," Hertzog said. "I really have not trained for very long. "
Besides crediting fellow Soldiers, he also credits his faith.

"I give the honor to my Lord and God."

A typical training day begins at 6:30 a.m. with crossfit conditioning. By 9 a.m., Hertzog begins teaching combatives at Ritz-Epps PFC and resumes training about 11:30 a.m. By the close of the day, which also incorporated training at Team R.O.C., a gym off Reilly Road, Hertzog said he felt like "a machine."

"I just worked really hard at what I do," he said.

Overall, the commitment to training and discipline he has acquired as a leader seems to help Hertzog and his comrades become better Soldiers, as well.

"Every spare second we had, we were training," Hertzog said. "That's what we do on a daily basis to get better as Soldiers and to uphold the standards of the 82nd."

Page last updated Fri September 30th, 2011 at 00:00