The grills were fired up with hamburgers and hot dogs as people flocked to Trophy Point in droves watch the annual Army Boxing Rumble exhibition event at West Point. Eighteen competitors fought in nine weight classes ranging from super featherweight (132 pounds) to heavyweight (over 201 pounds).
The event kicked off with Class of 2022 Cadets Grace Martin versus Kristina Hughes in a super featherweight bout. Both girls showed heart and grit as they measured each other’s skill with a jab followed by a flurry of combinations. Though Martin made it a difficult fight, Hughes walked away with the win.
Next up was Class of 2023 Cadet Ezekiel Mercado versus Class of 2022 Cadet Will Naumann at middle weight (156 pounds).
The fight started out with both fighters equal in physical ability and skill, but as the fight wore on, Naumann managed to overwhelm Mercado and earned the victory.
In the third fight, Class of 2022 Lieja Cobb went up against Class of 2021 Emma Begin at super featherweight. The bout was intense as the fighters came forward and threw a flurry of punches. Both fighters refused to back down, shouting out a loud cry with nearly every punch that was thrown. Despite Begin’s efforts, Cobb came away with a split-decision victory.
It was time for the heavyweights to step in the ring as Class of 2023 Cadet Matt Beason went up against Class of 2022 Cadet Xavier Williams.
The bout was competitive with both fighters sticking to their game plan and performing in their own distinct styles. Williams chose to box by jabbing and using his feet to step out of range of Beason’s shots. While Beason came forward and relentlessly pressed the action. Williams’ decision to be economical with his punches cost him the bout as Beason walked away with a victory.
Class of 2021 Cadets Corrine and Jac Chronister faced off at lightweight (140 pounds) in another competitive match up with both fighters sticking the jab persistently and carefully picking their shots. Chronister rejoiced as she came away with the victory and embraced Kurz afterward.
The sixth fight featured Class of 2021 Cadet Shane Ferry versus Class of 2022 Cadet Michael Mathews in a kinetic junior middleweight (152 pounds) bout with both fighters displaying their ring IQ. Mathews started off strong with a stiff jab and effective aggression but Ferry was able to nullify Mathews with his own jab. Ferry was persistent with landing stabbing jabs to the body with the posture of a fencer. He then followed it up with combination punching to the body and head pulling off a win.
The Cruiserweights (200 pounds), Class of 2021 Cadets Elias Manning and Chris Sharfin, then stepped into the ring. Both fighters charged at each other with jabs, left and right hooks, and displayed varying levels of defense through out the fight. Manning’s relentless combination punching led him to victory.
The final female bout of the night was action packed as super middleweight’s (165 pounds) Class of 2021 Cadet Sidney Sandburg faced off against Class of 2023 Cadet Ruby Romsland in an electrifying fast paced bout. Sandburg jabbed consistently to the head and body and threw some hard-hitting combinations off those jabs. Meanwhile, Romsland responded by countering some of Sandburg’s attacks and landing her own double hook to the body and head. The fight was back and forth with both fighters giving it their all but Romsland came out victorious in the end.
“I want to go as far as I can with boxing. I love the sport itself but I love the people more,” Romsland said. “The people on this team are like my brothers and sisters and there is no team that has a culture like ours.”
The event culminated with a bout between Class of 2022 Cadet Lawrence Shepherd versus Class of 2021 Cadet Isaiah Queen. The fight began as a highspeed chest match. Both fighters displayed their boxing IQ by maintaining distance control behind each jab.
Queen was quick and concise with his versatile punch-combinations while Shepherd used his timing to counter Queen’s aggression. Queen displayed his defensive acumen by slipping, parrying and rolling Shepherd’s punches and coming back with his own flurry. In the end, Queen’s speed and punch output landed him a victory.
Queen said that if it wasn’t for Shepherd being such a reliable and honorable teammate, he would have never made it this far in boxing at the academy.
“We train in the gym all the time and I’m telling you—a lot of the technique that I learned from the gym came from (Shepherd),” Queen said. "Honestly, tonight was an OK display of me utilizing my range and angles and I definitely need more work with that which is why I need (Shepherd) as my teammate. He makes me better.”
The Army West Point Boxing Officer in Charge (OIC), Capt. Nicole Hayman, coordinated the event. She received a lot of support from different organizations in the U.S. Military Academy.
“We’re super supportive about putting on such a great event for the Corps and that’s why we tried to make it as big as we could,” Hayman said.
Usually Boxing events are held in the central or northern areas of West Point, but due to COVID-19 the event was moved to an open area where people are six feet apart from one another. Originally the event was going to be set on The Plain but due to maintenance issues Trophy Point became the alternate venue.
For the Boxing Course Director, Head Coach Ray Barone, the fighters did a phenomenal job with their performances showcasing that true grit and will to win that can be found by any man or woman despite their race, color or creed. He added that the cadets would’ve been competing in the national championships, but COVID-19 put a monkey-wrench in that plan.
“They are preparing for the national championship in April 2021 and they want it,” Barone said. “Tonight, they were really on it. They respected each other, worked hard together leading up to the event and you can see when they hug each other after the fight that it’s a brotherhood and sisterhood. They are a phenomenal young group — they are going to be phenomenal officers when they go out into the Army one day.”