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Coach Hopes to Bring Experience to Olympics

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz., Jan. 26, 1996 – The ringside routine doesnt change much for Army Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Ravelo. After each round, he enters the ring, squats before his resting fighter and explains in detail what he sees.

In that oneminute break between rounds, he will know the strengths and weaknesses of his fighters opponent and relay that information to his boxer. He will also coach the fighter and finish with a customary slap to his fighters headgear as the warning buzzer sounds.

"It builds fighters, and it makes winners," said Ravelo, who has made winners of many Army boxers for the past three years. Since he began coaching the Army team in 1993, Ravelo has won three armed services team titles and coached fighters to 32 of 36 individual weight class titles. In 1994, Army swept all 12 weight classes and won 11 titles in 11 championship bouts this year.

U.S. amateur boxing officials are seeing this and rewarding Ravelo for his efforts. Last year, the Huachuca soldier earned amateur coach of the year honors from USA Boxing, the countrys Olympic sanctioning body.

He also earned a coaching spot for the U.S. Olympic boxing team competing in Atlanta this summer. He hopes its a team with some of his own Army fighters, but, Ravelo said, just coaching in the Olympics is very special.

"Its been an honor to be coach of the year and an Olympic coach it was one of my goals. I succeeded as a boxer and I was succeeding as a coach. Now, the next goal I have is to get a couple of my guys on the Olympic team. That would really make me feel great about my making the team."

Ravelo knows the militarys tradition of sending boxers to Olympic competition. Ray Mercer and Leon Spinks, for instance, are two Olympic gold medalists with military boxing ties. Ravelo said the Army team has the talent to send a few fighters to Atlanta.

Paced by Spc. Benjamin McDowell, 1995 armed forces athlete of the year, Armys team has four boxers who successfully defended their 1995 interservice boxing titles. Two are threetime champions in their weight classes, and one Spc. Bradley Martinez of Fort Huachuca was an alternate at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Most of the fighters on this years team are proven boxers enrolled in the Armys World Class Athlete Program. Two years before Olympic competition, the Army assigns its best athletes to sports training facilities to better prepare them for Olympic competition.

The Army sends its best boxers to train with Ravelo at Fort Huachuca or to Fort Bragg, N.C., where they work with assistant team coach Alvin Simpson. Wherever they train, though, team members must follow Ravelos standards standards he hopes will bring the success he had both as an amateur and professional fighter.

"Ive been involved in boxing since 1962 and started coaching in 1975," said Ravelo, now 42. "I went 110 as a professional middleweight and was a very disciplined boxer when I competed. I try to combine the discipline I had as a fighter with the training these guys need to win." He said boxers who have discipline and who train the way he wants them to train can succeed in anything they want to do.

Ravelo said its not as easy as it sounds. He said he's had some undisciplined fighters and they didnt last long in his program. "Some guys think they can win by just going through the motions and doing the basics," he said. "Basics are fine, but unless they put the effort up front they wont go anywhere."

With these demands, it's odd to hear Ravelos thoughts on effort. He doesnt expect a "100 percent effort" each time a fighter enters a ring. Instead, he wants high effort that builds through the fighters three rounds.

"Onehundred percent is not in my vocabulary it is out, and my fighters will tell you that," he said. "If a boxer gives me 100 percent in the first round, hes burned out for the second and third. My fighters are trained to go out strong, but they have the discipline to pace themselves throughout the fight."

Another aspect of Ravelo's game is how he guides his fighters. "Many of them have the discipline it takes to win," he said. "I try to guide them and refine those disciplines into winning. I respect the efforts the guys are making, and they respect me for what Im doing. Its a twoway street, and it works well."

Martinez is one who likes Ravelos style. "The one thing you have to say about him is that youre prepared when you go into the ring," he said. "Its up to us whether we want to win, but he keeps us in good condition and drives us to have the discipline we need to win."

With the U.S. Nationals in early February and the Olympic trials in March, Ravelo has plenty to concentrate on before heading to Atlanta. Yet hes still setting goals marks he says he hopes to reach after his Army days are over.

"Id like to start coaching in the professional ranks,"said Ravelo, who is nearing retirement. "I guess the next step is coaching a world champion it would be another goal I wouldnt mind reaching. But right now, my goal is getting my guys to the Olympics, helping them get them get a medal and being there to see them wear it."

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