by MC2 (SW/AW) Elliott Fabrizio
Both of the All-Navy Boxing Team’s female fighters won their fights in the 2012 Armed Forces Boxing Championship, Feb. 3, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
In Armed Forces Boxing, female bouts do not count toward their teams’ overall standing in the tournament, but that doesn’t stop them from competing.
Newcomer to the Navy team, Information Technician 2nd Class Nicole Saunders faced Army Spc. Dianeya Nodarse in the 141lb. weight class. Both fighters slugged it out, battering each other around the ring.
At the conclusion of each round, Saunders trailed by two points, but in the final minute of fighting, she dug down and rallied to pull ahead will a bombardment of brutal combinations, leading to a 20-16 victory.
“I didn’t know how many points I was down, so I just tried to put her in the corner and get off some good body shots,” said Saunders. “I can’t even describe the feeling being out there. I’m just happy I could represent the Navy and get us the gold medal that we deserve.”
The Armed Forces Sports boxing program does not have enough female fighters to fill every weight class, but as an experience builder, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Rhonda McGee faced a civilian fighter, Vanessa Guzman, from California’s Alliance Training Center.
“At least Armed Forces [Sports] was able to get me a fight,” said McGee. I would have been really bummed and left out if I made it to armed forces and didn’t get to fight anyone at all. Of course it would have been better if I fought someone from one of the other branches. I mean, it is an armed forces championship. Hopefully next year more women will come out for military boxing and there will be someone in my weight class.”
McGee aggressively whipped hooks across Guzman dazing her and leading to victory by referee stopped contest in the fourth round.
Saunders cites the same reason McGee had to fight an exhibition with a civilian in the Armed Forces Boxing Championship as the biggest obstacle female boxers face.
“You don’t have that many female sparring partners, so you have to face guys the majority of the time, and they don’t want to be beat by a girl.” said Saunders. “Boxing is hard work, and I’d say females have it the worst, but I’m here now, so it was all worth it.”
“The women work just as hard, if not harder than the men,” Said All-Navy Boxing Head Coach George Sylva. “I believe they deserve the same respect as the other competitors. and it’s up to us as coaches to ensure the quality of boxing is the same in the female ranks as it is in the male ranks.”
In the previous year’s championship, female fighters received standard gold and silver medals, but this year, female fighters won first-place and second-place plaques.
“I think it’s unfair how our fights don’t count for the team award considering females have come so far in this sport that we’re even in the Olympics now,” said Saunders. “But no points and no medals will not stop me from doing what I do best.”
None of the Navy team’s male boxers, won gold this year; however, two fighters redeemed themselves by winning, consolation, bronze-medal bouts.
The Pentagon Channel captured all the action from these Sailor’s impressive victories, and the 2012 Armed Forces Boxing Championship series will begin airing March 9. and will be available on demand at www.pentagonchannel.mil/boxing.