By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public AffairsMarch 27, 2009
"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
- Robert F. Kennedy
It isn't likely that Kennedy had much in common with Fort Lee's Sgt. Daniel Sheninger.A,A The fact that the former U.S. attorney general died even before Sheninger was born helps support that fact.
But perhaps the two travelled the same path of ambition.A,A
Sheninger, a 27-year-old boxing hopeful, wholly subscribes to Kennedy's idea that one must risk failure or sacrifice something in order to accomplish anything. He will test that notion as he tries to capture a spot on the Army team during the service's Boxing Trial Camp currently in process through April 25 at Fort Huachuca, Az.
The Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 49th Quartermaster Group Soldier brings to the camp a powerful combination of will and ambition but doesn't have the experience to match.A,A He is literally fighting against the odds but figures risking failure is like making a down payment on a potentially lucrative investment.
"My chances (for success) come from the fact that I'm willing to lose," said the New York native.A,A "I don't care if I win or lose, I'm willing to try, and because I'm willing to try, I have a chance of winning."
Those who know Sheninger said he exudes determination as though it was a birthright.
"He is one of those unique individuals from the moment you meet, you know will be successful in whatever he decides to do, just based on his positive outlook, drive, determination and focus," said Lt. Col. Jim Crowley, deputy commander, 49th QM Group.A,A "He is a very ambitious young man and always sets his goals high and lives by the highest standards, both personally and professionally."A,A
Sheninger learned to box by accident.A,A In the fourth grade, he came home one day with a fresh shiner.A,A His father, dismayed that his son was bruised, bought him a set of gloves and laid down the skills that would enable him to deliver bruises rather than receive them.
"I haven't had a black eye since then," said Sheninger, noting that his father was a Soldier and member of a post-level boxing team.A,A "After that ... I really didn't go into the ring, but I always wanted to."
A married father of two boys, Sheninger plunged himself into the fight game about three years ago while stationed in Korea. He boxed in a number of smokers there, and after being assigned to Fort Lee in 2007, trained with the Inmotion Warriors boxing club of Richmond. That gained him enough ring time to submit an application packet to the Army trials.
"Overall, I've had about 10 fights," said the 165-pound middleweight.A,A "Eight wins, two losses."
One of those losses came during the Virginia state boxing championships.
"I came close but didn't win," said Sheninger, who is ambidextrous but fights right-handed."I wound up fighting a 6-foot-3, 165-pound guy who was built like a rail but hit as hard as a hammer."
Sheninger said his will in the ring is not of the reckless variety, and he isn't the one who lies in wait to throw haymakers at the expense of taking a thousand blows.A,A He likes to think of himself as a strategist and said that his performance during the state tourney was a case in point.
"It was my first time fighting someone that tall, and I had to figure out how to do it," said Sheninger.A,A "By the last round, I did figure it out but not enough to win."
Sheninger definitely hopes to size up his opponents a lot earlier at the trial camp.A,A He figures it's now or never, considering he's approaching his prime as a fighter.
"This is like my early, midlife crisis," he said of the trial camp.A,A "There's no other chance than now.A,A (The boxers at the trials) are more experienced, they're probably in better shape because they're fighting constantly.
"I'm training on my own, best I can with the people around me and not at a high level. "I'm trying to compete.A,A I'm willing to fight."
Can a boxer's determination push him to achieve beyond his level of expertise'A,A
Command Sgt. Maj. Romeo Montez, the top enlisted Soldier in the 49th QM Group's 240th QM Battalion, said he's seen Sheninger accomplish the improbable.
"Sgt. Sheninger has more will power than just about any opponent he will face," he said.A,A "He does not know the meaning of the word quit or failure. I watched some of his previous fights and have seen him beat more skilled opponents because of his drive and ambition."
Sheninger too, seems to know how far his inner workings can get him.
"I have 100-percent willpower," he said.A,A ".... My willpower alone can make or break a fight."
That remains to be seen.A,A The All-Army boxing camp is separated into two phases.A,A There is a training phase in which coaches help boxers improve their skills.A,A The second phase, or the box-off, will be Sheninger's "make or break" moment. It takes place around the middle part of April.
Those who win their weight class during the tourney will earn a spot on the Army team and represent it during the Armed Forces Championships later in the month.