By Spc. Alun Thomas, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsMarch 10, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - The sound of leather gloves collide with human skin was deafened by the cheers from a rabid crowd ring through Abrams Field House during the III Armored Corps and Fort Hood Boxing Smoker, which attracted more than 120 participants from Army installations all across the United States, March 2-5.
Behind the scenes, Maj. Brandon Reeves, from Killeen, Texas, brigade Fire Support officer, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, smiled in satisfaction, as he watched the event he helped organize achieve the success he envisioned two months prior.
"I got the tasking in January to put on a world-class, boxing event, and from there, I started putting everything together for the tournament," said Reeves, over the din of the crowd. "Trainers, vendors, rings ... you name it."
The event was a massive undertaking, said Reeves, with boxers traveling from bases as far away as Fort Drum, N.Y, Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Stewart, Ga., to compete in the smoker.
"III Corps is such a huge area and encompasses so many units that we had boxers from all over the country contacting me and trying to get all their boxers squared away for this event, which took a lot of work," Reeves said.
Pfc. John Florez, from Albuquerque, N.M., 214th Fires Brigade, 529th Signal Company, made the journey to Fort Hood from Fort Sill, Okla., praised the organization of the event as one of the best run programs he has been part of.
Florez won the men's light, welterweight division final,
"I have never seen anything like this before except maybe in Vegas," Florez said. "The tournament has been well run, and the best I've fought in. The final result here tonight with the lights and lasers is extremely cool."
A month of dedicated training and excruciating commitment was the key to success, Florez said, riding a wave of euphoria following his win.
"I trained after work and weekends for a whole month with some professional trainers and the end was worth the sacrifice," Florez said. "The trip here was excellent and Fort Hood has been a good host. We have enjoyed our time here, especially the weather."
The enthusiastic response of competitors like Florez, said Reeves, is due to the help of volunteers, both Soldiers and civilians, who helped train fighters and judges and set up rings.
"This has turned into a community-wide event and the Soldiers have responded well," Reeves said. "Without all the support of the people here at Fort Hood and all the volunteers, this wouldn't have been possible."
With many of the participants facing upcoming deployments and in the midst of busy training schedules, their dedication to preparing for the smoker is impressive in its scope, Reeves said.
"Here at Fort Hood, it's been tough for the units to give up their boxers because of Fort Hood's high [operational] tempo, which has made it a struggle," Reeves said. "They have found ways around their deployment schedules and the training they have had to do, to make it down here and sacrifice their evenings and weekends to train, some of who are single mothers."
Being a single mother did not deter Pvt. Rori Kain, from Syracuse, N.Y., Company B, 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery, Fort Hood, from attempting to realize her ambition to win the female welterweight division, which she narrowly failed to do, finishing runner up.
"I had to bring my son to the gym with me which was difficult and because of other things like duty I had to sacrifice a lot of my time," said Kain, shortly before her final fight. "I couldn't make all the afternoon practices so I made them up at night."
These obstacles only strengthened Kain's motivation to train harder and be in fighting shape by the start of the smoker.
"I have never fought before so I wanted to train at night and work hard," Kain said. "The training beats anything else I've done. We worked on endurance, running and muscle training which definitely got me in shape."
Win or lose, the experience was a first for Kain, who praises all those associated with the smoker for making it a success.
"The hosts have done a good job over the four days and provided us with the best training and facilities available," Kain said. "It's been a great week."