GULF OF ADEN – The leading chief petty officer from amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) G-3 Weapons Division wraps his knuckles and pushes his hands into a trusted pair of black boxing gloves.
Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Donta Wills came to the hangar bay 30 minutes earlier, large mesh bags slung over each shoulder, full of gear for boxing class participants that are soon to arrive. It’s time to sweat in the stifling U.S. 5th Fleet humidity. It’s time to box.
“On deployment, it’s time to get back into it,” said Wills. “Give back to the crew, teach them some stuff that I know. We are all learning, my goal is to have fun.”
Wills’ boxing class attracts Sailors and Marines who possess varying levels of knowledge, skill and experience in boxing.
“Getting to work with all these people, all different skill levels, it has been really rewarding for me and I know my guys in the shop really enjoy it,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Michelle Treganowan, a boxing fan and first time boxer. “It’s something we really look forward to all doing together.” Boxing is deeply rooted within the life of both instructor and several students. “I’ve followed boxing pretty much my whole life as far as watching the fights growing up with my dad and my mom,” said Wills. “The Mike Tyson fights; all the ’Rocky‘ movies are classics. I’ve been following boxing since I was a little boy.”
The passion for boxing is shared among crewmembers, having been exposed to it at different points in their life by family.
“My grandpa introduced me to boxing, every time I would go to his house that was the only thing he would watch,” said Treganowan. “Growing up I would have to watch boxing with him hours on end.”
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jose Jaen, an assistant boxing instructor and frequent participant of the class, spends a significant amount of time holding the sparring mitts for Wills.
Students often watch the two spar; Gloves and mitts popping smartly as technique and power sync seamlessly. The more experienced boxers seem to punch and move in unison, a small expression of the rhythm necessary to maximize the workout.
Jaen and Wills share more than 20 years of both boxing culture and formal boxing training under their belt and they display their experience as they train and teach others.
“As soon as Chief Wills sent the email saying he would be teaching classes I immediately felt happy and relieved,” said Jaen. “I knew how much I would enjoy doing something that I love after working hours.”
From novice to boxers with a lifetime of experience, Wills and other participants welcome new faces and their respective reasons for attending the class. “There are people that come out to the class that have never done this before, but every week they are improving and that’s the goal,” said Wills.
The art of the sport and the sweat of the workout are a couple reasons why students attend the class.
Boxing classes are held in the hangar bay every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, if space permits, at 8:00 p.m.
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, currently deployed in the 5th Fleet area of operation (AOO), is composed of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.