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    Boxing is Back Onboard Boxer

    Boxing is back!

    Photo By Senior Chief Petty Officer John Scorza | Chief Engineman David Magana, a native of El Paso, Texas assigned to the amphibious...... read more read more

    The Navy has always had a special connection with the boxing world. In fact, Sailors have been boxing aboard U.S. Navy ships for more than 150 years. When it first began, boxing or just plain "slugging" bouts as they use to be called, were often clandestine events held contrary to shipboard regulations and sometimes used as a means of settling personal grievances. These were more often than not settled in the lower decks, storage closets and other obscure places.

    The door opened for change in 1865 when the Naval Academy began a boxing program. It was treated as a casual recreation activity until 1919 when the Navy appointed a 30-year-old boxer from Baltimore named Hamilton Murrell Webb, affectionately called "Spike," to take over the program. With Spike at the helm, the Navy became a boxing powerhouse and went undefeated in dual meets for 11 straight years while capturing six national titles.

    Soon after, the sport became legal on ships with the endorsement of President Theodore Roosevelt who believed implementing boxing would increase morale. In no time, the events, known as “Smokers,” skyrocketed in popularity and spread throughout Navy ships. As years passed and the Navy evolved, boxing aboard ships slowly faded away, but it has not completely disappeared.

    Today the sport is thriving once again aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The training sessions held twice a week aren’t called “smokers” or held in a fan room, but once again, it has caught the interest of the crew.

    Three months ago, several Sailors approached Chief Engineman David Magana about teaching them how to box. Magana, a former Golden Gloves champion and a professional boxing coach in the San Diego area, agreed to begin training them.

    “I never advertised starting a boxing class onboard, but somehow it grew to where we are now, which is about 15 Sailors consistently,” said Magana. “It just goes to show that there is still an appetite and a lot of appeal for this sport.”

    The program provides a unique opportunity for Sailors and Marines to participate in a combat sport, learn something new and get a good workout.

    “For me this is an opportunity to lead men and women onboard and help teach them a discipline,” said Magana. “It’s something that I think we need on this ship…it’s a chance to get a good workout in while practicing and learning a skill. I have a saying that ‘no one owns boxing.’ All you really need are some gloves and some motivation.”

    The class teaches how to properly guard, punching techniques and combinations and occasional sparing. His first order of business is always to teach students how to defend themselves first, and only a few of them have proven themselves ready for sparring.

    “The few Sailors that I’ve allowed to spar so far have been with me since the beginning,” he said. A lot of that comes, not because they don’t necessarily know how to throw a punch, but rather their ability to defend themselves and correctly block a punch. That’s where the danger is – turning your head, not keeping your hands up and so on.”

    Magana explained that the sparring sessions are teaching opportunities, not bouts. Punches are thrown with no more than 50 percent force and head gear is always required.

    "Being down here has definitely been a humbling experience,” said Personnel Specialist Seaman Gavin Salcedo. “I like to think that I’m strong and that I can take other guys on, but being down here and being pressure tested, I’ve learned that I’ve still got a ways to go. It’s a good reminder that other people are capable of a lot more than what I’m capable of right now, but that’s okay – I’m here to learn, get better and Chief Magana and the rest of the guys down here are great mentors.”

    The class currently is at maximum capacity with 15 to 20 students, and with that many, it’s good to have some help. Seaman Roman Gandara, a native of El Paso, Texas assigned to the ship’s Deck Department, began boxing and competing at a young age. Prior to joining the Navy, Gandara boxed in amateur events for nearly seven years and is participating in the class, as well as helping Magana train new fighters.

    “I love teaching especially when I can see people really want to learn and are excited about the sport,” said Gandara. “It’s especially satisfying when you see the passion that people have and watch them learn something new and apply it.”

    Sailors aren’t the only people onboard with an itch to box. More than half of the class are Marines assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked onboard.

    “I really love to box,” said Lance Cpl. Noah Manning. “Chief is really great at seeing the holes in an opponent’s style and telling you how you can gain an advantage. For me, he’s been encouraging me to use my reach more and that’s been really effective.”

    “My only goal is for them to get better every week,” said Magana. “I want them to be developed enough to where when I leave here that they can carry it on because they have a good foundational skillset and an understanding of boxing.

    Physical activity has many well-established mental health benefits. These are published in the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' and include improved brain health and cognitive function, a reduced risk of anxiety and depression and improved sleep and overall quality of life. Although not a cure-all, increasing physical activity directly contributes to improved mental health and better overall health and well-being.

    “I think boxing really helps me with warrior toughness,” said Manning. “The warrior mindset is to not take ‘no’ for an answer. You have to keep pushing forward and applying pressure to your opponent. The same goes for your enemies on the battlefield.”

    Manning isn’t alone in his thinking. Magana also feels that the sport has a lot to offer in the realm of warrior toughness when it comes to a career in the military.

    “For the Navy we preach warrior toughness – that we need to be mentally tough to face the challenges ahead,” said Magana. “Boxing is a great avenue to build mental health and resilience from within.”

    The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of Boxer, USS Somerset (LPD 25), and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are underway conducting integrated training and routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.12.2023
    Date Posted: 12.30.2023 23:06
    Story ID: 461107
    Location: PACIFIC OCEAN
    Hometown: EL PASO, TX, US

    Web Views: 298
    Downloads: 0

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