By Skip Vaughn, USAG Redstone December 9, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Army recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Judge thought his boxing days were over. But everything changed when he saw something while driving in his truck in Huntsville.
Judge, who arrived at Redstone from Florence in October 2010, saw three men working on what looked like a boxing ring outside a little building on Governors Drive.
He stopped and found out they were with the Rocket City Gym and were building a float for the Veterans Day parade to carry the Army World Class Athlete Boxing Team. The team from Fort Carson, Colo., was visiting Huntsville for the second straight year.
Oh, and by the way, they asked, would Judge be willing to use his truck to pull their float in the parade?
"I went home and told my wife I found a boxing gym," Judge said.
He's been working out at the Rocket City Gym ever since, helping to inspire the young men that proprietor Larry Bright draws in -- keeping them off the streets and into a disciplined sport. And they've inspired Judge to keep boxing.
Judge, operations NCO for the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, has been accepted to the All Army trial camp to compete for a spot on the All Army boxing team.
"I'm excited," he said. "I didn't think I was going to get selected because I've been away from boxing for so long."
All Army coach Charles Leverette made the selections based on the applications submitted. Judge will report to the camp Dec. 28 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
"I've been working my tail off (in the gym). I've been training," Judge said.
At 5-foot-11 and 199 pounds, he'll compete as a heavyweight. That division is for fighters lighter than 201 pounds, whereas the superheavyweights are over that weight.
The Los Angeles native fought at middleweight, 165, in his first trip to the All Army trials in 2002. He lost in the finals by decision to Julius Fogle, who was then the nation's top-ranked 165-pounder and a member of the world class athlete program. Fogle, who went on to turn pro and won a middleweight title, has since retired.
Judge, who initially entered the ring as a 12-year-old, quit boxing after that loss and was away from the sport for about seven years.
He was a recruiter in Las Vegas when he returned to the sport in late 2008. He was planning to turn pro but then he got transferred to Florence. Judge ran a recruiting station in Florence for two years until he reported to Redstone. And then he just happened to be driving on Governors when Bright and two others happened to be building a boxing float outside their gym.
"Before I knew it, they took me in like family," he said.
Bright, himself a former Army boxer, is his coach and mentor. Bright works at Redstone as product team lead for calibration sets in the systems sustainment management division in AMCOM's Integrated Materiel Management Center.
"He's a mature active duty Soldier so he provides a lot of leadership for the kids in the gym, provides a good example for them," Bright said. "As a boxer he's competed in the Southeast Association, done very well. He's fought at both heavy and light heavyweight. His objective is to fight as a heavyweight in these upcoming trials."
At 32 years old, Judge is realistic about his boxing future. He said he hopes to become the All Army heavyweight champion and subsequently win the All Armed Forces heavyweight division in San Diego.
"Yep, that's my short-term goal right there," he said. With 12 years in the Army, his career goal is to become a command sergeant major.
"I'm a Soldier first and I know the long-term picture is the Army," Judge said.
He and his wife reside at Redstone with their three daughters. He said he appreciates her letting him spend so much time in the gym with his second family.