***image1***An hour before his welterweight championship bout, Cedric Benson skipped rope on the track just outside the Patch Barracks Fitness Center here.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “It’s exciting though; it’s just you and the other man out there.”
A Soldier from Wiesbaden, Benson was one of several boxers making their ring debut in this year’s U.S. Forces Europe Boxing Championship in Stuttgart, which was hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe.
After arriving for weigh-in, boxers began competing in matches scheduled during two days in a round-robin format. After a rest day, eight championship bouts were then held, consisting of three two-minute rounds.
Jacob Hasbrouck, from Giessen, entered the finals of the lightweight category with a 2-0 record. An avid martial arts enthusiast, Hasbrouck said he joined his unit’s boxing team to improve his hand speed and soon became “hooked” on the sport.
Hooked is an understatement, though. For the last six months, Hasbrouck trained twice daily, seven days weekly – beginning with a 5 a.m. five-mile jog. At the end of his duty day, he works on the speed bag, spars in the ring, lifts weights and climbs stairs.
“He’s eager to learn,” said his coach, Sgt. First Class Mark Preston. “He can go far. It’s hard to find that kind of dedication.”
His extra conditioning paid off on Sunday when he caught Jessie Palamino, of Grafenwoehr, square on the face in the first round, opening up a nasty nose bleed. The bell saved Palamino, but not for long. The referee stopped the contest 45 seconds into round two, despite a bloody Palamino pleading, “Come on, man. I’m still having fun.”
Hasbrouck won the bout and was voted the tournament’s most outstanding male boxer.
As with most of the boxers on Sunday, Hasbrouck’s story was not uncommon. Edward Garcia said there isn’t a moment that boxing isn’t on his mind. He spends most of his free time at the Panzer Kaserne Fitness Center, where, since September 2006, he trains with several other unit boxers.
“It’s a nerve-wracking experience to step in that ring,” said Garcia, one of four Stuttgart boxers who made it to a championship bout. “But I love the chance to knock someone out in front of a lot of people.”
In the final light heavyweight match, Garcia locked horns with Grafenwoehr’s Carlos Lebron in a bout that went the distance. The two boxers dodged jabs and exchanged body shots for three rounds, before judges awarded Garcia a 4-1 decision and the crown.
“I was timing him pretty good,” said Garcia. “But I also missed a lot. I got just enough to win.”
Stuttgart’s Christian Meyers landed just the right punch to win his championship bout against Anthony Watson from Heidelberg. The two heavyweights threw a barrage of punches at each other midway through round two. An exhausted Watson dropped his head and backed against the ropes when Meyers stepped in for the finish.
“I think it was a right that wobbled him,” said Meyers, who at 34 was the oldest competitor of the tournament. “He was going down, so I just threw a couple more punches, hoping for the best.”
In the welterweight championship, Benson kept his nerves in check but lost to Roberto Figueroa, from Kaiserslautern, in three rounds with a 5-0 decision.
On the women’s side, Britney Teasley of Stuttgart had just enough pace to outlast Rosalee Gordon of Kaiserslautern in three rounds to win the middleweight title. She was voted the tournament’s most valuable female boxer.
With 31 points, Stuttgart boxers took home top team honors edging out squads from Grafenwoehr (22) and Wiesbaden (19). Boxers from six different U.S. Army garrisons competed.
“It takes a lot of courage to step in that ring,” said Ernest Epps. “I’ve been a huge boxing fan all my life, and I think the fighters put on a great show.”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t match up all the weight classes,” said Steve Sanders, assistant sports director of USAG Stuttgart. “We still had a great championship with these eight bouts.”
Amanda Krogh of Wiesbaden; Rex Apaghy of Giessen; Daemont Johnson of Kaiserslautern; and Botiv Slavov of Stuttgart went uncontested in their respective weight classes.
The U.S. Forces Europe boxing schedule resumes June 23 with the Battle of the Titans in Stuttgart. For details on this one-day tournament, call the Patch Fitness Center at 430-7136 or 0711-680-7136.
Stuttgart 31, Grafenwoehr 22, Wiesbaden 19, Kaiserslautern 17, Giessen 16, Heidelberg 4.
Middleweight: Britney Teasley (USAG Stuttgart) def. Rosalee Gordon (USAG Kaiserslautern) 5-0.
Middleweight: Temali Mercado (USAG Grafenwoehr) def. Tabitha Cornejo (USAG Wiesbaden) 4-1.
Most outstanding boxer: Britney Teasley (USAG Stuttgart).
Lightweight: Jacob Hasbrouck (USAG Giessen) def. Jessie Palamino (USAG Grafenwoehr) when referee stopped contest
Welterweight: Roberto Figueroa (USAG Kaiserslautern) def. Cedric Benson (USAG Wiesbaden) 5-0.
Light Middleweight: Shawn Sullivan (USAG Kaiserslautern) def. Ricardo Medino (USAG Grafenwoehr) by RSC, 1:36, 2nd round.
Light Heavyweight: Edward Garcia (USAG Stuttgart) def. Carlos Lebron (USAG Grafenwoehr) 4-1.
Heavyweight: Christian Meyers (USAG Stuttgart) def. Anthony Watson (USAG Heidelberg) by RSC, 1:22, 2nd round.
Super Heavyweight: Ivan Kovaiev (USAG Stuttgart) def. Thomas Cowell (USAG Wiesbaden) 3-2.
Most outstanding boxer: Jacob Hasbrouck (USAG Giessen)