Boxing coach builds legacy of wellness | Article

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. —The month of February celebrates activists, civil rights leaders, pioneers in industry, politics, science and medicine as we recognize the achievements of Black Americans and their immeasurable impact on United States history.

The theme for this year’s annual celebration of Black History Month, Black Health and Wellness, was initiated by the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) and adopted by the Department of Defense. The year 2022 focuses on the overall well-being of Black Americans.

“The theme of Black Health and Wellness not only addresses the history of healthcare in the African American community, it is also an historical examination of the financial and economic health and wellness of African Americans,” wrote W. Marvin Dulaney, president of ASALH.

“Broadening and expanding the theme to address what some historians and health care profesionals call the ‘social and economic determinants’ of health and wellness allows us to show the interconnectedness of a number of historical, social and economic factors on Black Health and Wellness.”

Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness echoed the importance of a holistic approach in a DOD memorandum about this year’s observance.

“The African American community has experienced violent crimes and encountered social, economic and other inequitites,” he wrote. “These stressors can take a toll on the health and wellness of African Americans.”

One Fort Huachuca Soldier is dedicating his talent and experience to the health and wellness of his peers and the next generation.

“As the USA Boxing Team coach, I mentor and develop boxers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andre Ferrell, G3 operations NCO at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence.

Ferrell coaches the Sierra Vista amateur boxing team at a local fitness center in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Ferrell was six years old when he was first introduced to the sport.

“My father had a pro-career in boxing,” he said.

Augustus Ferrell Jr., was a former Light-Heavyweight and Welter-Weight Golden Gloves boxing champion during the 1970s, and Ferrell noted his future as a boxer was shaped by accompanying his father while he was training for competitions.

Although he took some time off from the boxing ring to concentrate on his enlisted career in the Army, Ferrell said he came back to train when was 34 years old.

“I trained twice a day for an extended period,” Ferrell said remembering what kind of work it takes to prepare for competitions.

Ferrell’s last fight was in 2019 when hee won a championship belt boxing in the light heavyweight class.

“My father stood in my corner,” he said noting how proud he was in that moment to honor his father’s influence as a boxer and father.

“I gave my Dad my championship belt,” he said.

Although Ferrell is now retired from competitions in the ring, he shows boxers at all levels how to succeed, train to compete and help one another grow as a team.

“Being a coach is a 360-degree relationship,” Ferrell said. “You instruct an individual on a skill set and the basic technical ability to train another.”

Repetition is a foundation in boxing; therefore, encouraging the importance of practicing drills requires boxers to practice in tandem.

Team members loyally repeat the team motto, “Feed your focus; starve your distractions.”

If you want to be your best, plant your focus solely on boxing during training sessions, Ferrell explains.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” he said swearing by committing to practice and practicing frequently.

Learning to master skills takes hard work and repetition, he said.

“The boxing ring requires you to be mentally sharp no matter the circumstances,” Ferrell explained.

Situational awareness is mandatory, otherwise, someone can get injured, he added.

Ferrell has a few Soldiers training with the team.

“I auditioned and was accepted to join the All-Army Boxing Team,” said Sgt. Antonio Tyson, a Soldier assigned to the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

Due to COVID 19, the All-Army Boxing Team ceased operations until further notice, he explained.

“Sergeant First Class Ferrell suggested I join the boxing team [here],” Tyson said.

Many exceptionally talented fighters are on the team, all are from different walks of life, and not all are pursuing their first regulation match, said Ferrell.

“For me, boxing helps me focus, stay on track and progress mentally,” said Donavon Washington, USA Boxing Team member. “Seeing my growth over time makes me feel good about myself.”

He has been boxing for six months after 15 years of practicing martial arts.

Washington says boxing and the team gives him structure, a direction and purpose.

“Boxing exercises your overall strength and mental toughness,” he asserted. “I know I can use that confidence in every aspect of my life.”

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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command, and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.

Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.

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