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Fort Hood boxers compete for spots on All-Army, WCAP, Olympic teams

Email   Print   Share By Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
March 11, 2010 | Sports
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Sgt. Quadi Hudgins, CSB, RSS, 3rd ACR, concentrates on hitting a speed bag Monday at Grey Wolf Physical Fitness Center. Hudgins and other Fort Hood-based boxers are preparing for the All-Army Boxing Tournament at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Spc. Daniel Badillo, a mechanic for the 4th ADA Regt., will box five-time All-Army champion Sgt. John Franklin. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
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James Holland, a human resources specialist for the 36th Eng. Bde., punches a heavy bag Monday at Grey Wolf gym. Holland believes his hard-hitting MMA background gives him an advantage over amateur boxers who might focus more on tagging people to score points rather than winning by a knock out. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Sgt. Quadi Hudgins shadow boxes during a training session held Monday at Grey Wolf gym for Fort Hood boxers preparing for the All-Army tournament. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Fort Hood boxers training for All-Army boxing tournament competition at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., include, from left: Sgt. George Yeanue, Sgt. Quadi Hudgins, Spc. Milton Watkins, Spc. Daniel Badillo and Pfc. James Holland. Michael Heckman, Sentinel Sports Editor
Their routes may vary but the destinations are similar: four Fort Hood boxers are seeking success in the ring through the All-Army boxing tournament and the World Class Athlete Program; and two others are seeking Olympic glory through national Golden Gloves tournaments.

As a high school student in New Orleans, Quadi Hudgins, now a sergeant for the Combat Support Battalion platoon, Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said, his uncle told him, “If I was going to fight somebody I might as well do it in the ring.”

Hudgins had been fighting his way to-and-from school in his tough, “highly territorial” Big Easy neighborhood. Last year he placed third in the 165-pound weight division in the All-Army Boxing Tournament at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Like his teammates, his goal this year is to win his weight division during the Army trial camp scheduled Tuesday through April 17 at Fort Huacuhca. The next competitive step would be to compete in the Armed Forces Championship, scheduled April 18-24 at Naval Base Ventura California, and national competitions to be held this summer in Denver, Colo.

Success in either Golden Gloves or Army boxing can gain an invitation for athletes to compete in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and/or a shot at the United States Olympics boxing team, which will compete for medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics Games to be held in London.

Hudgins, now 25, has been working out hard to prepare for his trial camp and All-Army boxing challenges.

“I do low-weight/high reps to get stronger. I got my stamina up so there will be no getting tired. I have good KO power and I’m ready,” Hudgins said during a recent workout at Grey Wolf gym.

He has posted 15 wins against three losses, all occurring last year at Fort Huachuca.

To earn a berth in the WCAP or Olympic boxing programs, Hudgins will have to defeat Jeffry Spencer, currently the No.1 ranked fighter in the 165-lb. weight class.

Another boxer with dreams of Olympic gold, Spc. Daniel Badillo, a mechanic for the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, started boxing in high school in El Paso.

After watching a friend at a local gym, Badillo told his father he wanted to take up boxing as a hobby.

“My dad told me when you get knocked out you won’t want to go back,” Badillo recalled.

“I proved him wrong; he knows now whatever I set my mind to do, it gets accomplished. Winning is what I do.”

Last year, Badillo placed first in the 125-lb weight division at Army trial camp.

To hang onto his ranking, Badillo will face Alexis Ramos and Sgt. John Franklin in the 119-lb. weight division.

It won’t be easy. Last year, five-time Armed Forces champion Franklin, a WCAP athlete, won a 20-5 decision over Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Magdiel Matias in the 119-pound weight class.

“I gotta show them I want to be there,” Badillo said.

The Army boxing program is a life-changing avenue for Sgt. George Yeanue, a supply sergeant for Co. D, 1-5 Cav. Regt., 1st Cav. Div.

Yeanue came to the United States from Liberia in 2005, after his family won a national visa lottery program.

Growing up in a family of eight children in Nimba, Liberia, a largely agricultural county, “I came from a poor background; this was a real opportunity,” Yeanue said.

After arriving in Orlando, Fla., with his two sisters, Yeanue went to Fort Jackson, S.C., to enlist in the Army.

“The Army is a stepping stone to better my life and my family’s life. I want to be one of the greatest fighters that ever lived,” Yeanue said.

The 22-year-old Liberian will fight in the 132-lb. weight class.

To prepare for the trial camp, Yeanue has been working out at the JR Boxing Club in downtown Killeen.

The club’s owner, Jesse Revalo, said, despite his inexperience, “George is a good fighter; he won the Golden Gloves regional championship Feb. 23-26 in San Antonio. He has a lot of speed and movement in the ring. He doesn’t get hit much but he can take a punch.”

Another Fort Hood boxer headed for Fort Huachucha is Spc. Milton Watkins, a cook who loves to prepare pot roasts for Foxtrot battery, 1-44 Air Defense Artillery Regiment, believes he has a winning recipe in the ring, too.

“The most important part of boxing is the mental aspect. Like life,” Watkins said, “boxing is 70 percent mental and 30 percent physical.”

Watkins views boxing as an eight-minute step away from reality, a place where he can “show anyone I’m the better man. I don’t believe anyone can beat me when I step into the ring.”

Watkins is the third generation of his family to box seriously. His grandfather was a professional boxer and his father fought 117 amateur fights, losing only 17.

When his father went to the gym to train, other boxers would get on their knees and put headgear and gloves and show then six-year-old Watson how to move.

Fighting at 144 pounds, he won his state high school Golden Gloves title twice.

Watkins trains with Sgt. Reshad Hicks, Co. B., 27th BSB, 1st Cav. Div. Fighting at 165 pounds, Hicks recently won a Golden Gloves title in Austin.

Pfc. James Holland, a human resources specialist for the 36th Engineer Brigade, believes his Mixed Martial Arts cage fighter experience helps him in the boxing ring.

Because amateur boxers fight under a points system, Holland said, “they’ll hit you and there’s not much power behind it.”

Six feet tall, Holland has a longer reach than most boxers in the 152-lb. weight division. Because the purpose of a cage fighter is to “take out his opponent as quickly as possible,” Holland added, he hits hard.

“They’re surprised at how much power I have because I have the tenacity to want to hurt the guy instead of just scoring points,” Holland observed.

To score more points, he’s been working at his jab.

“My goal is to be selected for the All-Army team and to get noticed by the WCAP guys, who will show up a week after everybody else shows up,” he added.
 
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