Boxing still alive and punching at Fort Bliss

Alex Cordova, right, defeated Daniel Avitia in their 132-pound Golden Gloves bout Friday. Photos courtesy of the El Paso Times.

Alex Cordova, right, defeated Daniel Avitia in their 132-pound Golden Gloves bout Friday. Photos courtesy of the El Paso Times.

By Sgt. Brandon K Anderson, 4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:

El Paso held its 72nd annual Golden Gloves boxing tournament at the El Paso Coliseum this weekend. The event kicked off on Friday evening and went through Sunday afternoon. The Golden Gloves provides people with a chance to fight at the regional level and possibly advance to the national level.

Coaching at the event was 1st Lt. Sergio Villarreal, a signal officer assigned to Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. Although he usually coaches Team Bliss Boxing, for this event he was an assistant coach for the post’s sister team, Next Level Boxing.

Villarreal has a tremendous love and passion for the sport of boxing and is always anxious for a chance to share the boxing culture that exists on Fort Bliss.

Josue Flores gets some advice from his trainer between rounds during his Golden Gloves bout Friday at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Josue Flores gets some advice from his trainer between rounds during his Golden Gloves bout Friday at the El Paso County Coliseum.

“Army boxing as a whole used to be a very big thing,” said Villarreal. “For instance, Fort Hood used to have a good team that they would send to fight at tournaments.”

Bridging the gap between the past and present is Mr. Herman Adams, one of the organizers of the El Paso Golden Gloves Tournament and co-founder of Team Bliss Boxing.

Adams who started boxing for the Army in 1962, fought in multiple tournaments while stationed in Europe with the 24th Infantry Division. He said that he has been involved with Team Bliss Boxing from its infancy and is very proud of the Soldiers who continue the tradition he helped start.

“These young Soldiers are trying to stay focused on their everyday mission while pursuing the sport, and I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts,” said Adams.

Anthony Figueroa, left, won his 141-pound fight against Leonardo Garcia during their Golden Gloves bout Friday at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Anthony Figueroa, left, won his 141-pound fight against Leonardo Garcia during their Golden Gloves bout Friday at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Villarreal stated that there hasn’t been a big boxing presence on Fort Bliss for some time, but he’s hoping that this is something that will change in the future.

“We do have champions, but we just don’t have that depth that we used to,” said Villarreal.

He went on to say that he likes events like the Golden Gloves Tournament because it brings more publicity to the sport as a whole, and that he hopes that through awareness of these types of events, that Team Bliss Boxing will grow.

“I know there are fighters here,” said Villarreal. “I know that there are boxers on Fort Bliss that may not know that there’s a team or may not have time to come out.”

Connecting these individuals with an organization like team boxing is what it’s all about for Villarreal. “People have boxed before joining the Army, and I’m trying to get them to fight for Fort Bliss,” he said.

Villarreal noted that the president of the El Paso Golden Gloves has very strong military ties. “He was a former All Army Boxer, and he’s willing to provide assistance to those Soldiers who compete with Team Bliss Boxing,” said Villarreal.

All these opportunities are available for Soldiers of Team Bliss Boxing, but more times than not there are more seats available than fighters.

Villarreal said that he welcomes fighters of any experience level, but what Team Bliss Boxing is lacking are experienced boxers.

“I’ll always take the less experienced individuals because that’s how you grow, but I know that there are open fighters that are looking for a team,” said Villarreal. “My primary focus is to say here we are, and we’d like for you to come fight for us.”

No Soldiers fought in this past Golden Gloves Tournament, but if you think that you have what it takes to train hard and compete, Team Bliss Boxing is waiting for you.

The winners of the different classes will go on to compete in the Texas State Golden Gloves Competition Feb. 26 in Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Bliss boxers will get a chance to compete at the Fort Bliss semi-annual boxing smoker next month.

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