Ring Leader: Volunteer Coach Shares Passion for Boxing
By Elaine Wilson
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, Mar. 10, 2006 Kevin Majors was used to facing down tough opponents. An aspiring Army boxer with a state middleweight championship under his belt, Majors was known for his strong right hand and effective jab.
Kevin Majors (left), a volunteer boxing coach, teaches Donald Harris a few offensive drills at the post gym in preparation for a March 18 competition at Fort Sam Houston. Photo by Elaine Wilson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Army NCO was making a name for himself in the ring at Fort Benning, Ga., in the 1990s, but it wasn't until a motorcycle accident that Majors faced his toughest opponent -- two broken arms and the end of his amateur boxing career.
The accident may have knocked him down, but Majors was far from being out for the count.
"I had to stop competing, but as soon as I could, I started to train again to keep in decent form," said Majors, now a clinical instructor for the 232nd Medical Battalion's Department of Combat Medical Training at Fort Sam Houston. "People started approaching me in the gym and asking me if I was a trainer."
Majors decided to turn his personal adversity into an opportunity and took his teaching skills out of the classroom and into the ring. He took on the training of one soldier with boxing aspirations, then another.
Two years later, the volunteer coach trains six boxers he refers to as his "core group" at the post gym, as well as a few others along the way who are looking for a hobby or to get in shape. He is credited with almost single-handedly bringing boxing back to Fort Sam Houston. The sport all but disappeared from the post in the 1970s.
"Boxing is a passion of mine that I'm happy to share with others. I want to give these men and women a positive attitude, the 'sticktuitiveness' and confidence to attack other things in life," Majors said. "It's great for the self-esteem."
It's also good for the waistline. Majors trains his boxers seven days a week for hours at a time. His workouts are not for the fainthearted, with wind sprints, distance running and what he refers to as "grueling" muscle-building sessions. It's not until their physical condition is up to par that Majors starts on boxing techniques, such as footwork and defensive drills.
"I've had people come to me interested in learning how to box," he said. "They come to one workout and never show up again. But that's how you weed out the ones who aren't serious.
"Boxing isn't a halfway sport. It's all or nothing," he said. "The penalty is too high: You could die."
With such high stakes, Majors ensures his boxers take the sport as seriously as he does. "I look at boxing as the ultimate game of chess. It's not the brutal sport people think it is. It's really 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical," Majors said. "I make sure my boxers master the mental and physical skills with hard-core training."
The training has evidently paid off. Of his four boxers who entered the Air Force Box Off in January, three won bouts and one made it to the championships at the 2006 San Antonio Regional Golden Gloves Tournament.
"I've been training with Mr. Majors for a year, and I think he's very dedicated," said Donald Harris, an aspiring professional boxer. "He definitely knows the ins and outs of boxing."
With a Fort Sam Houston boxing event for the local community just days away, Majors' boxers will once again be put to the test. He is also coaching four soldiers from the Army Medical Department Center and School who are participating in the March 18 boxing event. "I don't turn anyone away, but some people have hopes but may not have the skills," he said. "We'll see how they do."
Encouraged by the positive impact of boxing on his soldiers, Majors is trying to establish a formal boxing team at Fort Sam Houston for soldiers, family members and Department of Defense civilians. He also would like to open a boxing gym on the northeast side of town and share his passion with San Antonio youth.
"Boxing teaches discipline, which carries over into other areas in life," he said. "The youth need somewhere to go."
In the meantime, Majors said he plans to pursue his other passion -- acting. He recently appeared in a play, "Raisin in the Sun," at the Jump Start Theater in San Antonio; has starred in local and regional TV commercials, including Church's Chicken and Gunn Honda; and took on a few lead roles in independent films.
"Acting and boxing are similar in that they take a lot of passion and are equally draining," he said. "My life is busy, but I love what I do and hope to continue for a long time."
(Elaine Wilson works in Fort Sam Houston's Public Information Office.)