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Health and Fitness

Boxed Out

Sailors aboard USS Boxer punch through deployment

Humidity hangs heavy in the air mixed with the smell of grease and sweat. The loud snap of leather hitting leather echoes through the hangar bay of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). You can hear the sharp exhale as each snap cracks through the air.

Those exhales belong to Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Donta Wills, leading chief petty officer from G-3 Weapons Division.

Large mesh bags full of gear at his feet, Sailors and Marines alike, stand before him waiting for his boxing class to start.

"As soon as Chief Wills sent the email saying he would be teaching classes, I immediately felt happy and relieved," said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jose Jaen. "I knew how much I would enjoy doing something that I love, after working hours."

Wills' boxing class attracts Sailors and Marines from the most novice of boxers, to those with a lifetime of experience.

"On deployment, it's time to get back into it," said Wills. "Give back to the crew; teach them some stuff that I know. We are all learning. My goal is to have fun."

Boxing is deeply rooted within the life of both instructor and several students.

Jaen, who is also an assistant boxing instructor and frequent participant, spends a significant amount of time holding the sparring mitts for Wills.

Students often watch the two spar; gloves and mitts popping smartly as technique and power sync seamlessly. The more experienced boxers seem to punch and move in unison, a small expression of the rhythm necessary to maximize the workout.
Photo collage for Boxer's Boxer.

"I've followed boxing pretty much my whole life as far as watching the fights," said Wills. "The Mike Tyson fights; all the 'Rocky' movies are classics. I've been following boxing since I was a little boy."

Together, Jaen and Wills bring more than 20 years of formal boxing training to the table and have been immersed in the boxing culture for years. They display their experience as they train and teach others.

The passion for boxing is shared among crew members, having been exposed to it at different points in their life by family.

"My grandpa introduced me to boxing. Every time I would go to his house, it was the only thing he would watch," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Michelle Treganowan, a boxing fan and first time boxer. "Growing up I would have to watch boxing with him for hours on end.

"Getting to work with all these people, all different skill levels, it has been really rewarding for me and I know my guys in the shop really enjoy it," said Treganowan. "It's something we really look forward to doing together."

"There are people that come out to the class that have never done this before," said Wills. "But every week they are improving and that's the goal."

The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, currently deployed in the 5th Fleet area of operations, is composed of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).

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