By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)February 12, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - When Sgt. 1st Class Adam Martinez was growing up, his father taught him how to box so he could protect himself and his sister from bullies.
These days, Martinez is the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Combat Sports head coach, and he not only teaches children about boxing, but also how to stop bullying without resorting to violence. Before two groups of fourth- and fifth-graders at Aukamm Elementary School Feb. 6, Martinez and three members of the garrison's boxing team talked about the sport and how - like any other sport - it can bring people together.
"You can see me in there sparring with professional teammates that I have, and you see us sparring, and you're like, 'Wow. These guys are really trying to hurt each other,'" Martinez said. "The minute we come out of the ring, we're hugging, we're smiling, and saying, 'Good training buddy. I appreciate it brother. Thank you.' We take care of each other. We're not trying to hurt each other. We treat others how we would like to be treated."
In addition to camaraderie and friendship, boxing is also about safety, Martinez said.
Spc. Rubin Stackhouse, super heavyweight champion at boxing tournaments in Wiesbaden and Grafenwöhr in 2012, used student volunteer David Maxwell to demonstrate how head gear helps keep boxers safe. He also explained that certain punches, such as to the back of the head, are not allowed.
Spc. Justin Teodoro spoke to the children about the importance of a mouth guard and the history of jump roping as boxing's top exercise.
"The jump rope is one of the oldest and most effective tools used in boxing," Teodoro said. "From all the way to Sugar Ray Robinson to Pretty Boy Floyd, jump rope is a staple of boxing exercises. It helps build cardiovascular health, helps keep the heart rate up, helps keep the blood flowing, and also helps improve your intake of oxygen. It also helps relieve stress and helps improve coordination. It is a full body workout."
Not only that, but jump ropes often cost less than $10 and can be used anywhere, Teodoro said.
Pfc. Nathaniel Barnd spoke to the children about boxing gloves and hand wraps. After one student asked if Barnd had ever had a boxing glove fall off in the ring, he explained that the gloves are secured so tightly there is no way one would ever fall off.
Martinez also demonstrated with the boxers how they train for events such as the Black History Month Boxing Tournament in Wiesbaden held Feb. 9.
"Every single one of you is capable of doing the things we do," Martinez told the children, "but you have to have discipline. You have to have respect. You have to be safe."
When he was a child, boxing gave him something to strive for, Martinez said.
"When I got home, I knew that if I wanted to go to the boxing gym and I wanted to train hard, I had to do my homework. I had to do my chores. I couldn't get in trouble at school, because I realized that was indeed a privilege," Martinez said.
More than anything, boxing taught him how to respect others, take care of people and be a protector -- not a bully, Martinez said.
Students listed the forms bullying can take, including physical bullying, cyberbullying, spreading rumors, verbal bullying and excluding people.
Martinez noted that sometimes people unintentionally hurt the people closest to them by pushing too far or making comments without thinking.
"Probably the best way that I can think for myself, when I wake up in the morning and I start my day and I think, 'How can I stop myself from being a bully today?' I look at myself first," Martinez said.