Armed Forces Boxing Champs Crowned in California

 By Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Williams, USN
 Special to American Forces Press Service

 NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY, Calif., Feb. 16, 2006  - Army boxers topped all services with 13 points at last week's 2006 Armed Forces Boxing Championships here.

The Marine Corps took second place with 7 points, while the Navy and Air Force tied for third with 4 points each.

Each night of boxing brought in a full house of spectators to Port Hueneme's Warfield Gymnasium.

Days 1 and 2 of the tournament were full of exciting action. The boxers from each branch of the military were excited about being here -- some participating in the tournament for the first time, others making their second or third appearance.

"It is a great honor and privilege to be part of this event," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Everett Montgomery, an aviation electrician's mate from Victoria, Texas. "It's a lot of work, and training is very intense, but it is worth it." Montgomery fought in the 201-plus-pound weight class.

"I feel good; this is my first time fighting at an event this big. I am thankful for the opportunity," said Air Force Airman 1st Class Andre Penn of the 28th Services Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, S.D. Although the Pensacola, Fla., native did not win his bout with Army 1st Lt. Boyd Melson, he said he looks forward to winning his weight class in next year's AFBC and being ranked as one of the nation's top 10 boxers.

Another fighter who came up short in the single-elimination tournament expressed the same sentiment. "I did what I could to win, but unfortunately, I didn't," said Marine Corps Cpl. Raymond Maldonado from Fort Worth, Texas. "I am looking forward to upcoming tournaments and just continuing to train."

Other servicemembers did fare better.

"My teammates and my father were screaming very loud, cheering me on, which motivated me," said Melson, assigned to Fort Carson, Colo., who defeated Penn to become a finalist for the AFBC. "I look forward to my upcoming fight with Navy in the finals here, and we will see where it takes me. I'm also looking forward to the U.S. Championships in March," said the White Plains, N.Y., native.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Triva Pino, a USS Port Royal sailor and Leadville, Colo., native became the first Navy female Armed Forces Boxing Champion when she defeated Air Force Senior Airman LeJoyce Grossett in four rounds.

Other gold medal finalists and their weight classes were:

- Marine Lance Cpl. Hugo Ramirez and Army Sgt. Jose Jimenez, 125 pounds;
- Army Spc. Charles Rios and Marine Lance Cpl. Todd Dekinderen, 132 pounds;
- Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Canales and Air Force Senior Airman Hector Ramos, 141 pounds;
- Army 1st Lt. Boyd Melson and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Fusinato, 152 pounds;
- Marine Corps Cpl. Jorge Arjona and Army Spc. Quentin McCoy, 165 lbs.;
- Air Force 1st Lt. Rodney Ellison and Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Downs, 178 pounds; and
- Marine Corps Sgt. Jacob Garretson, Army Sgt. Joe Guzeman, Army Sgt. Andrew Shepard and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Everett Montgomery, 201-plus pounds.
The final day of competition proved to be the most exciting by far. The crowd was double the size of the two previous days of the tournament and twice as pumped. They chanted for their respective teams each time a different bout began.

"This type of tournament is good for morale, and we are all excited to witness it," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Santa Cruz, Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu, Calif. "It makes me want to get out there and participate."

After achieving the goal of winning the AFBC, many boxers immediately began to focus on their next tournament.

"Today I was feeling good and my reflexes were in good shape," said Ramos, who's assigned to the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "My coaches were giving me good advice in the corner, and I won the fight. It means a lot to be armed forces champion." of the San Antonio native said his long-term goal is to be national champion.

At the end of the final day of boxing, each boxer was presented with either a gold or silver medal depending on where they finished in the tournament.

Gold medal winners were Franklin, Jimenez, Dekenderen, Ramos, Fusinato, McCoy, Downs, Garretson and Shepard.

The National Boxing Championship will be held March 4-7 in Colorado Springs, Colo. and the CISM Championship will be Sept. 15-24 in Warendorf, Germany.

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Williams is assigned to Naval Base Ventura County public affairs.)