Staff Sgt. LaTorry Sidney
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - During a deployment, it's not uncommon for Soldiers to look for ways to improve themselves. A former boxer-turned-coach provides the opportunity for troops to do just that by using his expertise in Olympic-style boxing to teach Soldiers boxing.
Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Williams, Logistics Task Force 180 truck driver, devotes his time on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to helping Soldiers condition for and learn the basics of Olympic-style boxing.
This isn't the first time Williams has sought to share his talent. During tours of duty in various locations around the world, Williams has shared his love of boxing with his fellow Soldiers. Training both male and female contenders, he's coached Soldiers to titles on several occasions.
"I try to coach everywhere I go," Williams said, who is on his second tour in Kuwait. "It's just something I like to do."
Williams has about 25 years of boxing experience under his belt.
"My father was a boxer in the Marine Corps," he said. "One day he came home from work and said "Here are some gloves." I've been boxing since."
This set of boxing gloves would open the door to a new opportunity for the youth, who would begin to take lessons in the sport of boxing.
"Mr. Lee â?¦ the man who trained me, was about 68 years old," said Williams. "He tucked me under his wing; I stayed with him almost every other day."
"He had a homemade gym in the back of his house," Williams recalled. "The punching bag I trained on was really just a bag filled with sawdust."
The conditioning and technique he gained from his trainer allowed Williams to build up the courage to step into the ring for the first of what would be numerous times.
Williams would soon suffer from a huge loss outside the ring. Lee, his mentor and trainer, passed away after his second fight.
Undaunted, Williams continued to train and eventually fought his way to numerous Golden Glove victories. He even made it to the trials for the Olympics.
After attending Florida State University, Williams decided to shift his career focus from boxing to the military. He initially enlisted in the Army as an infantryman.
His humble boxing beginnings and coaching, combined with the skills and values he gained from the Army, would instill qualities in Williams that would allow him to excel then, as well as later in life. It was at this stage in his life emphasis was placed on the importance of discipline.
"Discipline is the key in the military and in boxing," Williams said. "Everything else falls around that one word. Discipline is a way of life and with it you can overcome any challenge."
Although his career focus changed, Williams couldn't dismiss his passion for the sport of boxing. He decided to remain intimate with the sport by coaching others.
Williams was picked up by the All-Army Boxing Team as a coach. During the time he spent there, he coached some of his Soldiers to championships. He was even a coach during the time the first female Soldiers took part in an All-Army female boxing competition.
"I stayed there for a year and a half," he recalled. "I gave a lot of time to these fighters and we made Army history."
Williams continues to give to potential fighters as well as people who just want to get a good workout while they are deployed.
"You gain general physical fitness, knowledge about boxing and the skills of the sport from the class," said Sgt. John Dodd, 820th Signal Company. "I don't expect to be a professional boxer, but this will help me stay in shape and pass time."
According to Williams, a disciplined person with the desire to push themselves and the patience to learn has the makings of a good boxer.
"I've trained people that have never been in the ring before," Williams said. "I get with them and seven months later they're winning championships. I work with everyone though, I never turn anyone away."
"I give so much to my fighters because the old man who trained me gave so much to me," Williams said. "I'm giving it back in his honor."