“It’s like your first love; like your first heartbreak. Regardless if she breaks your heart, you still love her. If you lose (a match) you still love it.”
That’s how Shanchez McGhee, with the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, said he feels about boxing.
McGhee is one of three Fort Bragg Soldiers who will be heading to Fort Huachuca, Arizona in May to fight for a chance to be on the All Army Sports Boxing team.
McGhee, along with Kevin Corral, 307th Brigade Support Battalion, and Martinez Kelley, 3rd Special Forces Group Forward Support Company, began the application process to join the team in January. On their application, they had to demonstrate their detailed boxing experience. Based on their experience and accomplishments, the three Fort Bragg Soldiers were invited to try out for the team.
The trio has been practicing vigorously at least four days a week at Ambition Boxing Academy with their coach Khalil Shakeel, an All Army boxer himself.
Shakeel said about 12 boxers per weight class are invited from throughout the Army to tryout. From there, two boxers from each weight class are chosen for the All Army Team.
“I feel they have a chance, because I know their talent,” said Shakeel, who has trained four Soldiers, within the last six years, who have gone on to win the All Army Championship.
Corral, who has boxing in his blood — his father was part of Mexico’s National Boxing team — said he stubbornly resisted his father’s attempts at getting him to box when he was a child. Finally, at 13 years old he decided to begin boxing and now strives to be part of the Army World Class Athlete Program.
“Now I’m excited and I’m training really hard for this event,” said Corral, who will compete in the 152-pound weight class.
As for his dad, Corral said he is excited and has been giving him training advice and help in preparation.
All three of the Soldiers hope to earn a spot on the coveted Army WCAP boxing team. The team allows Soldiers to box and compete full time as well as offers them opportunities to attend national and international competitions, including the Olympics.
McGhee, who will compete in the 132-pound weight class, said he just began boxing about three years ago, but it was something he has always wanted to do.
“It was the best way to channel a lot of energy I had. It helped mature me as a man, so I’m grateful I started,” he said.
Kelley, like Corral, grew up watching his dad and grandfather box. He would punch the boxing bag in the backyard and he said his dad saw a fighter in him and signed him up for boxing classes.
Kelley, who fights at 123 pounds, said he loves fighting because of the adrenaline rush he gets.
McGhee said he is thankful his unit and command are supportive.
“Throughout the years it’s been hard to get to this point, but now that I’m at this point, there’s no looking back and I have a command that supports me. I’m at this point where I can do it.”