The discipline to get to weight is one of the toughest factors a boxer deals with when preparing for a fight. As the 64th annual Boxing Brigade Open approached Friday at the U.S. Military Academy, senior Alyssa Milner had to do a hard cut to get to exactly 125 pounds.
"This is the first time in my boxing (career) here that I actually had to weigh in at 125," Milner said. "Coach (Ray Barone) has previously gotten me fights at 128, 130 or 132 pounds in order to keep me from having to make the hard cut until I had to make it. Unfortunately, my body fluctuates a decent amount and I was a bit over my fight weight coming into the week of the BBO, causing me to have to drop some weight."
Milner said she kicked her workout regimen into high gear and added some extra run and bike time before and after practices to help her successfully reach the 125-pound goal as she characteristically tries to reach 128 for bouts.
"Getting to 128 is typically a very strict diet and a solid run or two in sweats with the intent of a long, slow sweaty run to lose the excess weight," Milner said. "The hard part is getting below 128 to 125. We can read our bodies, but they are never 100 percent the same from day to day, so the science is hard to predict. I typically cut a little too much out of fear of coming in over on fight nights."
Milner, a member of Company A-1, took on Company E-4's Kristina Hughes for the women's 125-pound brigade title at the Riverside Café in Eisenhower Hall, which was one of nine title bouts on the night. After three hard-fought rounds, Milner received the ultimate vindication for her extra work and dieting as Barone extended her arm in the air as she earned her first brigade boxing title.
Milner gave Hughes much credit for her energy and endurance, but added sparring with her in the past helped because Hughes, as a left hander, is someone who can give Milner problems in the ring.
"(Hughes) knew some of my south paw flaws that worked to her advantage," Milner said. "In terms of me exploiting her thought process, I just tried to read her punches. That allowed me to slip and roll some of my shots that if I attempted to block, it could have cut through my guard.
"What worked best for me during the fight was throwing distracting jabs to move inward," she added. "(Then) I slipped and rolled around her straight punches to find the angles I wanted on the sides of her body."
The road was tough for Milner to get here as she had reconstructive ankle surgery during her plebe year, and she couldn't begin boxing with the team until second semester of her yearling year once she was healed. But her love of the sport, she said, grew from plebe boxing class prior to her surgery. Now, through all the trials and tribulations, she can call herself champion.
"The excitement I felt was beyond belief in winning my first Boxing Brigade Open," Milner said. "I am extremely humbled and thankful for the team I have that made me the boxer I am today."
And with her first BBO title in hand, was the extra work and dieting worth it in the end?
"All of it was worth it," Milner explained. "It taught me to be both physically and mentally tougher than I have ever been before. I have been disciplined in my training, my diet, my schoolwork and my social life. It takes a very regimented routine, but each fight humbles me and reminds me why I joined the team in the first place-to best prepare me to be fit and take on the tasks required of me as an officer in the U.S. Army."
Milner was one of nine brigade champions on the night that included Company A-2 senior Ahliyah Lablue defeating Company B-4 sophomore Leija Cobb for the 119-pound women's title.
At the men's 139-pound bout, Co. G-1 sophomore Isaiah Queen achieved some revenge against Co. D-4 junior Shane Ferry, who defeated Queen in last year's BBO title bout.
Company I-4 junior Jacqueline Chronister earned the 132-pound women's title by beating Co. I-2 senior Juliana Fustolo. Co. A-2 junior Lawrence Shepherd defeated Co. A-1 sophomore Michael Matthews at the men's 147-pound weight class.
In the most exciting bout of the evening, Co. E-1 senior Eba Obiomon beat Co. F-1 senior Janel Tracy to earn the 156-pound women's title. The boxers were given a standing ovation at the end for their relentless fight.
Company F-2 senior Adrian Albin earned his second brigade title, winning his first in 2018, as he defeated Co. D-4 senior Kyle Taylor at the men's 165-pound weight class.
Company E-1 sophomore Corrine Kurz earned her second straight brigade title in her victory over Co. G-4 junior Sydney Sandburg at the women's 165-pound weight class.
In the final bout of the evening, Co. F-2 sophomore Ke'shawn Sullivan took the heavyweight title from Co. G-2 senior Toese Tia as the fight was stopped in the second round due to a cut above Tia's eye that would not stop bleeding for him to continue.
The next stop for members of the Army West Point boxing team is regionals next month before heading to the National Collegiate Boxing Association national championships April 2-4 in Lafayette, Louisiana.