By Mr. David E Poe (IMCOM)April 6, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas - While the expanses of the Fort Bliss Training Complex may offer some of the best training assets in the world, not every battle at Bliss is fought on the hard-scrabble plots of nearby New Mexico. Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation personnel transformed Sgt. Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Facility at East Fort Bliss into a canvas battlefield as they hosted the first Boxing Border Rumble of the year April 1.
Seventeen Soldiers stepped into the ring and represented four 1st Armored Division brigades, an air defense artillery unit and 5th Armored Brigade.
Bliss FMWR personnel stood up a regulation raised ring in Soto's main gym, along with a celebratory entry way. Fighters entered the gym accompanied by music provided by DJ Kay Bee, also a Bliss FMWR employee. There was also a snack bar to provide fight fans with arena fare for the perfect event feel.
As in previous FMWR boxing events, El Paso Golden Gloves experts and judges were in attendance to help facilitate a professional boxing night. They had five certified ringside judges who scored points for boxers who connected undefended, proper punches on their opponents, and most decisions were made based on the total amount of points a boxer accumulated by the end of the bout.
Ligon vs. Guzman
The lightweight card had a welterweight-middleweight hybrid match between Pfc. Keith Ligon, 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, 11th ADA Bde., and Pvt. Victor Guzman, a fighter from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team. In all, Soldiers from Guzman's unit accounted for almost a third of all military fighters on the night's card.
Ligon was confident coming into the night, and it saw him through with a unanimous three-round victory decision. The air defender scored 46 points to Guzman's 21, and one judge even awarded him a gaudy nine-point victory.
After the match he said he felt his win could be attributed to mind games just as much as what physically happened in the ring.
"It was all about establishing his fears," said Ligon. "He was scared of me and I proved he had a reason to be."
Gregory vs. Diallo
It was logistics Soldier versus logistics Soldier when Spc. Vincent Gregory, HHC, 47th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT (AETF,) went toe-to-toe with Spc. Sidy Diallo, a "Mustang" Soldier from 125th BSB, 3rd IBCT.
With no wasted punches in the first two rounds, Diallo seemed to be in cruise control as he had Gregory on his heels, but the 2nd BCT (AETF) Soldier hung tough and made an argument for victory in the third with a flurry of punches that put the otherwise solid Diallo on the defensive.
In what may have been the surprise decision of the night, all judges sided with Gregory over Diallo, a testament to the value of not quitting before the final bell sounded.
Henderson vs. Wickham
Almost an hour before his bout, Pfc. Zackary Wickham, HHC, 4th BCT, said he was calm, composed and ready to fight Capt. Richard Henderson, a Soldier from HHC, 5th Armored Brigade, even though the officer outweighed him by more than 40 pounds.
"No nerves, I'm ready... ready to go," said Wickham. "I've been training with my squad leader for a couple of weeks; I think I've out-trained him."
While training may have made a difference as Wickham matched his opponent punch-for-punch, Henderson, who resembled a small mountain with arms, used his brute strength to lay into the 4th BCT Soldier from the opening to closing bell.
Wickham was actually winning on three of the five judges' cards through the first two rounds, but Henderson's jack hammering eventually became too much to take in the eyes of the referee as he called the fight in the third with the staggered Wickham bowing in defeat.
In other bouts, Spc. Camron Fitzsimmons, a 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd IBCT, defeated Pvt. Spencer Brooks, from 4th BCT's HHC; Pfc. Maximino Ramos, a "Ready First" Soldier from 1st SBCT, topped Spc. Cody Despaw, another 1st Bn., 41st Inf. Regt. Soldier; Spc. Ervin Tower, a 162-pound Soldier from 2nd BCT made easy work of Pvt. Micah Ruescher, a Soldier from HHC, 4th BCT; Pfc. Ronald Fleming, 5th Bn., 52nd ADA, defeated Pfc. Kevin Lawrence, HHC, 4th BCT, and Spc. Darrell Stinson, 1st Bn., 36th Inf. Regt., beat Pfc. LaSalle Smith, 47th BSB, 2nd BCT (AETF) 1st AD. In the headline fight of the night, Pfc. Marcus Carrera, a 1st SBCT Soldier, and a formally recognized Golden Gloves boxer defeated Abraham Sanchez, of El Paso's Armijo Boxing Club, in a three-round, sanctioned Golden Gloves bout.
At the end of the night, Joe Fedak, Bliss FMWR's sports coordinator, said regardless of who won and lost in the ring, said he felt the Bliss community, whether they were fighters or fans, scored a first-round knockout by taking part in the event.
"We had people get in the ring and have a chance to feel a little adversity," he said. "I think it opened their eyes a bit and let them know where they need to get to as far as [boxing] training. As far as the crowd, it was a good turnout and a great night."
Fedak said another FMWR boxing event is scheduled for the fall, but whether boxing is your game or not, FMWR intramural sports has something for every athletic taste all year long. For more information, visit www.blissmwr.com.