MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Nine times out of 10, hitting someone in the face could land an assault charge. That isn't the case for Staff Sgt. Ryan Savage, a successful amateur boxer in his spare time.
The 91st Security Forces Group evaluator started out with boxing mainly to stay fit and get a better score on his fitness assessment test. He never knew where it would take him.
"I initially did it just to get in shape, lose a few pounds and pass my PT test," Savage said. "Once I got into it, that's when I decided I actually wanted to compete."
Once he started boxing he had no intentions of competing until his coach talked him into it.
"Honestly it's a surreal feeling getting this far," Savage said. "I initially did it just to get in shape and my coach asked me if I wanted to compete so I gave myself a few months to train and I ended up winning my first match and from there I took off."
Since he's started boxing, Savage has won at state and regional levels in his weight class and he isn't done yet.
"I was the state champion for North Dakota in the 152(-pound) weight class and the upper Midwest regional champ," Savage said. "I'm going to nationals next."
Working in a security forces group Savage is usually pressed for time, but he said he manages his time well by balancing his passion for boxing and his Air Force duties.
"Obviously I put my work first, and then I box," he said. "I get done with the duty day around 5 p.m. After that I get right into training mode and box until the training gym closes around 8 p.m. and from there I'll go workout at the YMCA and go to sleep and do it all over again the next day."
Savage doesn't have his sights set on his future boxing career just yet, but he does have some goals in mind.
"I'd like to do more amateur fights and see how I do in nationals, and then go from there," he said. "If you win nationals you get an Olympic tryout so that would be really impressive. I'd also like to compete in the state and region next year and also competing for the Golden Gloves."
Although he has some lofty goals for boxing, he doesn't plan on them getting in the way of his Air Force career.
"I'm looking at extending right now and seeing where that goes," Savage said. "If I get orders hopefully it will be to a place where I can continue boxing."
Savage has won seven fights in his short amateur boxing career and plans on more, but one of those wins is extra special to him.
"Winning regionals, I never thought I would get this far," Savage said. "This was my first Golden Gloves competition ever and I was honored just to be competing in it and when I won it was just a surreal feeling."
Savage said his favorite boxer that has inspired him the most isn't a professional boxer, but another amateur boxer that happens to be stationed at Minot Air Force Base as well -- Senior Airman Tavarus Roberts, a member of the 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron.
"A really good friend, Tavarus Roberts, he's also a state and regional champ," Savage said. "He helped me a lot along the way and I wouldn't be where I'm at now if it weren't for him."
Savage has taken a very important lesson from boxing that uses in almost all aspects of his life, including the Air Force.
"The biggest thing is hard work and determination. You've got to push yourself even if someone tells you that you can't do it or if you think you can't," he said. "There will be days where I get off work and I'll be tired and not want to go in and train but I know that my competitor is out there training so I have to push myself. That relates to the Air Force when sometimes you have to do things you don't want to but still have to and it's all about pushing yourself."
Savage will compete in his weight class at nationals the week of May 16 and doesn't lack any confidence going into it.
"I'm very confident, I feel very good," he said. "Every fight I've felt great; this year has been a great year for me winning wise so I feel great going in."