Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A group stands huddled in a semicircle around a blue mat, watching and waiting for the two warriors to don and adjust their gear.
They put in their mouthpieces, bump fists and wait for the coach’s signal. “Ready?” he asks. The pugilists nod and mumble something through their rubber mouthpieces affirming they’re prepared for the ensuing battle.
Upon hearing “go,” the two immediately begin their bout, bobbing and weaving, and throwing a combination of punches to the head and body.
The fight ends, and even though this was just practice, the lessons learned prepare them for their next match.
The Celtic Warrior Boxing Club was started about six months ago, and as most boxing clubs, it’s used to get the club’s members in shape, while preparing them for their next bout.
“I’ve been coaching for more than 20 years now, when I started my own gym,” said James Scullion, Celtic Warrior Boxing Club coach. “It’s in my blood; ever since I was a child, I’ve had boxing gloves and we all used to spar each other as our entertainment for the day.”
He decided to become a coach because of the reactions of those he trained.
“Seeing the belief in these people, if they don’t believe in themselves or have a little bit of fear and seeing their confidence improve,” he said. “(Boxing) is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. It’s about movement, fitness and being mentally strong.”
Matches may be mentally challenging but the rigorous training during practices helped many with their overall fitness, improving several members’ physical training test scores.
“I’ve lost a lot of weight, and have gotten in a lot better shape,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Way, 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “I went from barely passing my PT test to this last one getting a 95.1, beating my commander’s score. I got tired of scraping by and being out of shape.”
For Way, being involved in a boxing club fulfilled a childhood dream.
“Ever since I was a child, I wanted to box,” he said. “I just never lived in an area where it was possible or didn’t have the money. Then I get here and find out this is going on and I’ve been sticking with it ever since.”
Way wasn’t the only one who has improved their fitness, Scullion said. There have been others who improved greatly as well.
“We have a few people who have a hard time getting past the fitness test, like one who started out at a 76, but got a 95 in the space of a couple of months,” he said. “That takes dedication and drive, but they’ve all done it. If you have a problem with fitness come on out, we’ll push you to the limit and you’ll have fun.”
The boxing club offers service members, their families and civilians another way to workout and get fit.
“It’s a lot more fun than the squadron delegated programs or working out by yourself, you either get in that same boring routine or don’t know where to start,” Way said. “Out here you get a bunch of people who are motivated and they get you motivated, it’s fun and will really make you sweat.”
Scullion says not all members of the club go on to fight in matches, some attend just to get fit. The club meets three times a week from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Miesau Army Depot gym.
“If you have problems getting fit and you like mixed-martial arts or whatever and you want to learn how to box, come on out,” he said. “We will do drills and we’ll get your fitness up, if you like it, great. Warrior fitness and resiliency is what boxing is all about and it brings you to the next level.”
At the end of the day, the boxers pack up while reflecting on lessons learned from the day’s fight, coming up with new plans for future matches.