NEW YORK - Standing a mere 5’6” and weighing in at 132 pounds, don’t judge him by his size. Staff Sgt. Todd Dekinderen, a Pontiac, Mich., native, is a force to be reckoned with. His lean physique and undaunted spirit is a source of intimidation for any experienced fighter.<br /> <br /> With an extensive history of heavy hits in the ring and a near-undefeated record, it’s no surprise Dekinderen has ambitions of turning pro. The long hours and stresses of a Marine on recruiting duty make it difficult to get adequate sleep, let alone leave time for anything else, but Dekinderen is determined and willing to do whatever it takes.<br /> <br /> He spends most evenings in the gym training. From shadow boxing to calisthenics and anything else that will build stamina, endurance, agility and power, his focus is on preparing for that next fight. His biggest advantage he says is being a U.S. Marine.<br /> <br /> One of the fundamentals to become a Marine, as goes for a boxer, is learning discipline. Although his love for boxing began long before he joined the military, he attributes his success as a boxer to the Marine Corps and personifies the Corps’ warrior ethos both in and out of uniform.<br /> <br /> Before the Marine Corps, when things got tough, Dekinderen said he would just quit. Now, when he feels down and out, he’s able to dig deep and find the self-motivation to keep pushing and “suck it up.”<br /> “It’s because of the Marine Corps that my skill has developed to where it is now,” he said.<br /> <br /> Dekinderen was a member of the All-Marine Boxing Team from 2006 to 2010. His first tournament was the 2006 Armed Forces Boxing Championships where he took the title by way of knockout to the Army. During his time on the team, he won three state and two regional Golden Gloves championships, advancing both times as the only Marine boxer to the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. In 2007, he took home the bronze at the Eastern Olympic Boxing Trials. But these are only some of his best feats in his solid amateur career.<br /> <br /> “The Marine Corps boxing team took my skill and enhanced it tenfold. Because of the opportunities I had on the All-Marine Boxing Team, I was able to participate in training camps at the Olympic Training Center,” said Dekinderen, an opportunity he otherwise never would have been afforded.<br /> <br /> Most often now he trains with Sadam Ali, an undefeated welterweight pro boxer and member of the 2008 Olympic boxing team, at the Sadam Ali Boxing Center in Brooklyn.<br /> <br /> Ali says it’s a pleasure having Dekinderen representing his gym. “I know he has a lot going on and it must be hard to stay in the gym, but he does it,” said Ali, “I think he is a really humble, talented man.”<br /> <br /> Dekinderen doesn’t want to look back and regret not going after his dreams, which is why he’s working so hard despite the obstacles. “It has been heavily laid upon my heart to go pro,” Dekinderen said.<br /> <br /> “I’m not a brawler. I’m a boxer. I like to pick my shots; I’m very quick, very strategic. I think about my shots before I throw them … I like to stick a move and not just go in all crazy,” said Dekinderen of his fighting style, a direct representation of his spirited character.<br /> <br /> Dekinderen hasn’t fought since 2009 because of the demands of recruiting duty, but plans on picking up right where he left off.<br /> <br /> “I’m a fighter. It’s just in me. I’m a warrior. I keep going. I’ll fight to the death,” professed Dekinderen.