Air Force boxers take 3 medals at Armed Forces Championships

  • Published
  • By Jose T. Garza III
  • JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
No more motivation is needed for Air Force boxing heavyweight Kent Brinson when it comes to preparing for the upcoming 2012 USA National Boxing Championships Feb. 27 through March 3 in his backyard of Fort Carson, Colo.

Brinson, a senior airman stationed at Fort Carson, won the gold medal in his weight class at the Armed Forces Boxing Championships here recently. That is enough motivation for him to try to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team competing at the 2012 summer games in London.

"At the end of the day, my goal has always been to go to the Olympics," Brinson said. "(Winning the gold medal) just gives me the confidence to believe in myself."

Led by Air Force Boxing Coach Steven Franco, the Air Force Boxing Team took three medals at the Armed Forces competition Feb. 3 in Camp Pendleton, Calif. Brinson and 123-pounder Kenneth DeJesus-Cruz won gold medals while 141-pounder Adam Hassan took silver.

The Air Force team hadn't won a gold medal in three years.

Looking at the medal winners on the scoreboard, Franco didn't believe his boxers had won gold until their names were announced.

"I could see the scores, but I still couldn't believe they'd won their bouts," said Franco. "I was saying to myself, 'Nah. I won't be happy until I hear the announcers call out their names and I see the gold medals around their necks.'"

After last year's disappointing outing at Armed Forces where the team only took one silver medal, winning gold medals this year was "just meant to be," Franco said.

Experience and basic boxing principles taught in camp made the difference in the Air Force winning the three medals.

"Their experience of getting hit and not folding over helped," coach said. "The attitude and thinking, 'Hey, I took a hit and now I'm going to hit you back,' is something we needed, and we have it."

Brinson didn't give up on his quest to make it to the Olympics, as he beat the Army's Charles Blackwell 35-13. Blackwell defeated Brinson in last year's Armed Forces tournament to win the gold medal.

After taking the silver medal last year, Brinson told people if he fought Blackwell again, he would defeat him.

"I really wanted to fight (Blackwell) this year because I felt like I let the fight slip away from me a little bit last year," Brinson said. "I felt like I could've and should've won the fight.

"I knew I was better than him and that I could beat him. Losing is a hard feeling when you know you should have won."

While Hassan didn't win the gold medal, taking the silver home in his first year participating in the Armed Forces tournament was unexpected.

Still, for Hassan, a senior airman stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the silver medal was "close but not close enough."

"I'm kind of mad I didn't get the gold so I'm going to work hard to try to get one next year. That's my goal." Hassan said.

To get to the gold, the silver medalist said he needs to improve on throwing more punches.

"As amateurs, the more you throw the better chance you have of scoring points," he said.

Franco and his team are planning for more success at the USA Nationals in two weeks. DeJesus-Cruz, an Air Force Reservist from Puerto Rico, may not be able to compete because of a prior military commitment.

"I'm planning on training hard so we'll see what happens," Hassan said.

"(Nationals) are what I have been training for the last six months," Brinson said. "There are guys who can perform and I'm one of them. I just have to bring my A-game everyday and not have any days when I slip up."

"I'm looking forward to it, especially for my two gold medalists and even for my silver medalist because that makes him even hungrier," Franco said. "When you come up that short with just silver, it makes you hungry.

"You're fighting the best of the best, so I hope to come out of Nationals with an Olympian," he said.