By Wendy Brown (USAG WiesbadenApril 15, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Pvt. Nathaniel Barnd had not been inside a boxing ring for four years when someone told him he could be more than a spectator at the 2012 Hispanic History Boxing Tournament - he could box.
So he did, and the rest is history.
Barnd, who had heard about the tournament a scant four days before it began, lost that first match by decision, but he has not only won two fights since then, he has brought home belts for Best Fight of the Night.
Most recently, Barnd, 21, received a belt during the Grafenwöhr Boxing Invitational March 2, as did U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Boxing Team member Cpl. Alicia Demillo, who won the invitational's belt for Best Fight of the Night for women boxers. Wiesbaden came in second overall, with the Bavarian Military Community coming in first.
With the exception of Barnd, all eight members of the team were fighting for the first time at the tournament, said Sgt. 1st Class Adam Martinez, the team's coach. Several other members of the team had moved on to their next duty station.
Barnd, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, who joined the Army a little more than two years ago, said he stopped boxing in high school because his football coach feared he might get injured. He was also participating in other sports, including wrestling.
Barnd said he was a little nervous when he decided to step back into the ring in October - he had not had much time to train and did not want to embarrass himself - but he soon overcame his fears and has not looked back.
He enjoys boxing because of the workouts, Barnd said.
"The coach works us out so much, sometimes he loses track of time, but after the workouts, you feel like you've accomplished something," Barnd said. "I saw myself back in January, and I had a little gut on me from drinking. Six weeks of hard boot camp - straight conditioning - and I got my figure right. It's just amazing."
Barnd, who fights at the middleweight level, said he appreciates all the help he has received from Coach Martinez, and the encouragement USAG Wiesbaden Command Sgt. Maj. Sa'eed Mustafa has offered the team.
"It's a team builder, even though it's an individual sport," Barnd said. "You get a lot of support. You learn a lot more being in sports that helps you later on in life - how to be a Soldier and have professional courtesy."
Soldiers who are not into a sport such as boxing or who are not taking college classes might not have anything to do when they leave work every day, Barnd said, and the temptation is there to go to a bar.
With boxing, team members are too busy to get into trouble, Barnd said. Not only that, but they do not want to diminish any of the work they have accomplished in the gym.
The boxing team practices Monday through Friday from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. and sometimes later, Barnd said. "I should do pretty well on my PT test next month," he added. Barnd is a mechanic for the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment.
Martinez said the team's next tournament is April 20 in Bamberg. After that, Wiesbaden hosts the U.S. Forces Europe championships May 11.
"Get ready for May," Martinez said. "We'll be ready to take on all the military communities as a garrison."