Army Romps to 4th Straight Armed Forces Boxing Title
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz., Jan. 26, 1996 To many military boxers, holding the 1996 armed forces championships here was like playing the Chicago Bulls at their United Center court. Experienced talent, supported by vocal fans, equals easy victory in the home arena.
Ask Marine Lance Cpl. Lee Gladden, the 1995 armed forces lightweight champion. "When youve got a crowd like the crowd tonight rooting against you and your team, its hard keep your concentration on the fight," he said. "I lost mine and it cost me."
Gladden wasnt alone in losing. It happened to all who stepped into the ring against Army boxers this evening. Spurred by the home crowd, Army claimed 11 of 12 weight titles in winning its fourth straight interservice boxing championship. The Marines finished second. Air Force and Navy followed.
In collecting the team honors, Army boxers claimed 11 championship title fights, defeated two defending service champions and saw four fighters retain their 1995 titles. "We were ready to come out here and fight," said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Ravelo, coach of the Fort Huachucabased Army boxing team. "There was a lot at stake in these bouts, and the guys knew what they had to do."
Navy Seaman Steven Carter of the USS Detroit became the only nonArmy champion of this years tournament. Carter knocked off Army Spc. Eddie Hall, the twotime defending bantamweight champion, in the semifinals. He then won the title with a 41 decision over Marine Corps Cpl. Steve Rosario of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
In addition to armed forces titles, each weight class winner received a berth in the 1996 Olympic boxing trials, set for March in Oakland, Calif. Fighters who failed here still have a shot for the Olympic trials, but must earn bids at other boxing competitions.
In Gladdens case, it was Fort Huachucas Spc. Robert Bailey who postponed the Marines Olympic hopes. After an even first round, Bailey surprised the defending champ by scoring a right hook to the head, stunning the Camp Lejeune fighter in the rounds first minute.
Backed by a supportive Army crowd, Bailey continued his attack on the surprised and distracted Gladden. A minute later, Bailey again nailed Gladden this time with a left jab prompting a second standing eight count. From there, Bailey scored continuous punches to Gladdens head and body, forcing a secondround stop at 2:53.
"After that first eight count I lost my concentration," Gladden said after the fight. "I tried to get it back, but he just kept coming, and the crowd kept coming with him. Youve got to give the man credit he definitely gave me a wakeup call. I lost my concentration, and now I have to bounce back."
Another losing his title was Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Evans, also of Camp Lejeune. The defending welterweight champion fell to Army Sgt. Fareed Samad of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Like the BaileyGladden fight, both boxers fought an even first round. In the second round, however, Samad used a series of punches to set up a devastating left jab to Evans face. That punch ended the fight at 2:23 of the middle round.
If the two upsets were highlights, the middleweight title fight between Army Spc. Benjamin McDowell and Air Force Staff Sgt. Ronald Simms was a disappointment. In a split 32 decision booed by many, McDowell won the fight but showed little of the style that made him DoDs 1995 athlete of the year.
"McDowell had a very sloppy first round," said Ravelo. "He didnt box well he was very slow and didnt throw the punches he should have been throwing." Ravelo said McDowells boxing style may have hurt him early, but added the third round proved decisive. "The way he fought the third round was the way he should have fought the entire fight," Ravelo said.
As for Simms, the 1996 Air Force athlete of the year, a change in his own strategy may have cost him the fight. "I usually start in a brawlerstyle strategy, pushing and punching," said Simms, from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. "But I said I was going to box this guy and make him make the mistakes. I probably should have thrown more punches and become more aggressive."
Four defending Army champions had little or no problem retaining their boxing titles. Huachuca's Spc. Bradley Martinez captured his third straight light flyweight title, stopping Airman 1st Class Steve Franco of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in 1 minute, 36 seconds. Huachuca featherweight Sgt. William Clay Jenkins won his third straight title, stopping Navy Seaman Oscar Vallerodreguez of Camp Hunter, Calif., cold in 1:58.
Spc. Olanda Anderson of Fort Huachuca defended his light heavyweight title with a 41 decision over Cpl. Bryan Fields of the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. In the light middleweight championship, Fort Bragg's Sgt. Jeffrey Clark scored a 50 decision over Staff Sgt. Mack Gadsden, the 1992 lightmiddleweight champion from Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
In other bouts, Pfc. DeRon Ferguson of Fort Huachuca became the light welterweight champion, scoring a 50 decision over Marine Cpl. Vincent Russell of Camp Lejeune.
The flyweight title went to Pfc. John Medina of Fort Huachuca. Medina grabbed a firstround victory, stopping Senior Airman Samuel Aponte of Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in 2:59.
Spc. David Washington of Fort Bragg claimed the heavyweight title with a 50 decision against Marine Sgt. James Harris of the Military Entrance Station, Montgomery, Ala. Pfc. Ryan Brieske of Fort Carson, Colo., completed the Army dominance with a 50 super heavyweight victory over Marine Sgt. Richard Oliver from Camp Lejeune.
All service teams will advance to the U.S. National Amateur Championships April 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo. All bouts followed U.S. Boxing Association rules. Fights, unless stopped by the referee, consisted of three threeminute rounds.