By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)May 21, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - A pair of female MPs delivered the dynamite that blew the lid off an already supercharged evening of determination and grit at the U.S. Forces Europe Boxing Championships in Wiesbaden May 11.
With the clang of the opening bell signaling the start of the three, two-minute-round bout, Wiesbaden teammates Lisa Manela and Alicia Demilio exploded out of their respective corners. Accompanied by a chorus of cheers and encouragement from the 1,000-strong crowd, the two featherweights pounded each other relentlessly, neither giving an inch as they fought to convince the judges which had the upper hand.
"We spar together," said Manela, explaining that the championship was the third time they had faced one another after fights in Bamberg and Vilseck, both of which Demilio won. "We really tried our technique and we decided to come and just give it our all."
Manela, like the crowd, said neither fighter knew for sure who would end up winning. "Nobody knows until the end," she said, after celebrating the narrow points victory over her coworker and teammate.
"I wouldn't have expected anything less from them," said Coach (Sgt. 1st Class) Adam Martinez. "They are really inspiring to the sport and to other Soldiers."
Demilio will soon transition from the military back to the civilian world.
"I'm going to miss Demilio's warrior spirit. They both just leap over every obstacle," Martinez said, adding that the two women have also been inspirational for young fans during visits to local schools to promote anti-bullying. "You'd be amazed how the young girls' eyes light up when they see the women boxers. They are outstanding."
While the evening featured 10 exciting fights, most of those in the packed fitness center crowd came to encourage Team Wiesbaden which managed to place seven boxers in the championship evening after two days of qualifying activities.
The night started off with a draw -- Quintero Gustavo and Martinez Kelley, both representing Vicenza, scoring an equal number of points.
Bout two saw Wiesbaden's Robert Figlioli battle a determined Daniel Kim from Stuttgart in a welterweight match-up.
"Figlioli is a boxer who started with us two months ago," said the Wiesbaden coach. "His first fight was on a one-day notice which he lost."
At the championship, Martinez said Figlioli "fought a more experienced fighter -- a Marine."
Having trained consistently since his start with the team, Martinez said, "his discipline and hard work paid off in the last round" with the Wiesbaden boxer taking home the gold medal. "Every single boxer from Team Wiesbaden did great, but Sgt. Figlioli really stood out."
Home town hero Nathaniel Barnd was the next one to step into the ring against fellow local boxer Jason Pak. Barnd, who has brought home several championship belts from bouts in Europe, displayed the technique and resolve garnered from many hours of hard work and dedicated training.
"I felt great," said the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment boxer, after the referee stopped the contest and awarded the gold to Barnd, who is shooting to make the All Army Sports Trial Camp at the end of the year and hopes to advance to the All Armed Forces level next year. "I'm going to keep on fighting to get ready."
Despite just having returned from duty in Afghanistan with V Corps, Wiesbaden's Ricky Clay displayed the ring craft that has earned him a reputation in U.S. Army Europe boxing circles against his Grafenwöhr opponent, Imo Aieti. "I only got a chance to do a little bit of training since returning last Monday, but I felt like I was outboxing him from the beginning."
Clay, not only won the bout by decision, but also earned one of the evening's two best fighter accolades (the other going to Manela).
"They (Wiesbaden) have a great program," said Clay, praising the support of the team, and adding that he hopes to advance to All Army.
The only other local fighter to step into the ring was Wiesbaden's David Marcet who, while trying to defend himself for nearly three rounds, was clearly outfought by Bamberg's Jeremy Bates. Bates claimed the gold after the referee stopped the contest 15 seconds before the end of the last round.
Other bouts saw Stuttgart's Jamaal Warren earn a disqualification victory against Grafenwöhr's Travis Tofi, Bamberg's Williams Stevens take a decision over Vicenza's Javier Cranmore, Baumholder's Tyler Meilcarek win a disqualification award against Grafenwöhr's Mose Wilson and Vicenza's Kevin Rainey defeat Ramstein's James Beck.
The judges presented Wiesbaden with the first-place team award; Grafenwöhr was second and Vicenza garnered third place overall.
"Our training was so intense and dedicated, there wasn't a doubt we wouldn't win," said Martinez. "All the boxers showed up every day -- with no complaints -- and as each day went by, they got hungrier.
"I'm going to do my very best that Pfc. Barnd, Sgt. Clay and Sgt. Manela have a chance to go forward -- at least try out for All Army," he said, adding that the team will be rebuilding in the coming months, and newcomers are always welcome.
Martinez thanked his wife, Rebeca, and assistant coach, Master Sgt. Adalberto Mercado, for their "incredible support" of Team Wiesbaden. "She's at every event, and we owe a great deal credit to our Coach Mercado (who will soon leave Wiesbaden) for always helping us be prepared."
For more information about getting involved with Team Wiesbaden email Coach Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.