Texas boxer becomes U.S. Marine

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego
Story by Pfc. Katalynn M. Rodgers

Date: 01.19.2011
Posted: 01.28.2011 11:14
News ID: 64387
Texas boxer becomes U.S. Marine

SAN DIEGO - When people think of a boxer, Rocky Balboa often comes to mind. A montage of running in place at the top of a set of stairs and pounding heavy weights accompanies that image. Not many would imagine a boxer as a dirt-covered Marine in bootcamp, hauling an empty 5-gallon drum across a simulated mine field.<br /> <br /> But one new Marine in Platoon 2114, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, although not fitting the stereotypical description of a boxer, has been a distinguished boxer since the tender age of 12. <br /> <br /> Pvt. Marco N. Paniagua’s drive to become a boxer was not a whim, but was inspired, said the Brownsville, Texas, native.<br /> <br /> “I started boxing because of my father,” said the 18-year-old. “He was a boxer, and when I was little, he got me into it.”<br /> <br /> Along with being a boxer, Paniagua’s father was also a Marine who served during the Vietnam War.<br /> <br /> Paniagua became such a good boxer that he placed high in several Golden Gloves competitions, a boxing tournament that can last one-to-two days. <br /> <br /> Many former Golden Gloves amateur boxing champions have gone on to become outstanding boxers and role models in the community. Former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Joe Louis was a Golden Gloves Champion in 1934. Other champions include Muhammed Ali (1960); Sugar Ray Leonard (1973); who got their start in the Golden Gloves tournaments.<br /> <br /> “If you win, you get a nice trophy,” said Paniagua. “You get recognized in the state, and with amateur boxing, you go up in ranking for winning the tournament.”<br /> <br /> He also participated in the Junior Olympics for boxing, and made it to the finals.<br /> <br /> “If you reach the nationals in the Junior Olympics in the boxing division, there are professional coaches there,” said Paniagua. “You could potentially get a manager.”<br /> <br /> Along with boxing during high school, he was also a member of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.<br /> <br /> According to Paniagua, Army ROTC aided him in getting two full-ride scholarships to colleges in Texas.<br /> <br /> “The scholarship was for the Army ROTC,” said Paniagua, “but that was not what I wanted to do [with my life].”<br /> <br /> Instead of college, he wanted to join the military at the time.<br /> “I knew I was going to join [the Marine Corps] since I was little,” said Paniagua. “My dad always talked about it.”<br /> <br /> His parents were proud that he joined the Marines, and his little brother looks up to him and wants to follow in his footsteps, he said.<br /> <br /> Paniagua chose the military occupational specialty of a reconnaissance Marine, because they are the best of the best at what they do, he said. <br /> <br /> Paniagua enlisted as a reservist who will later be stationed in San Antonio, but he plans to change to active duty. <br /> <br /> He said he wants to continue boxing while in the Marine Corps because the basic skills that the Corps teaches can be applied to boxing. <br /> <br /> The courage to stay in the fight and the commitment to keep training every day, and to give 100 percent, is what Paniagua believes will help him in the Corps.<br /> <br /> “I’m glad I chose this path,” said Paniagua. “I feel like I’ve accomplished more than I have in my life both by myself and with my fellow Marines. I’ve pushed myself to become a Marine.”<br /> <br /> He hopes to later become a professional boxer and a good citizen through the skills, experience and professional character he said he has gained in the Marine Corps.<br />