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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2018

Soldier triumphs at state boxing tournament

By Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

“Man, this is a big boy!”

That was the only thought distracting U.S. Army Sgt. Darius Lane from his unexpected opponent during the Sugar Bert Boxing Title Belt National Qualifier in Virginia Beach, Feb. 11, 2018.

Lane, a 935th Aviation Support Battalion CH-47 Chinook helicopter repairer, spent nearly every day of the previous four months training with his coach, Sgt. 1st  Class Andrew “Shep” Shepherd, battalion supply noncommissioned officer in charge, 1st Battalion, 222nd Regiment, 128th Brigade, at Fort Eustis’ Anderson Field House.

Lane, an amateur boxer since 2008, contacted Shepherd when he arrived at Fort Eustis in October 2017 for helicopter repair training. The two Soldiers first met while attending an All Army boxing training camp at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 2016.

“We instantly clicked,” said Lane. “I’ve had 10 different coaches since I started boxing and you don’t always get that connection between fighter and trainer, but our individual styles definitely complement each other.”

Shepherd, a retired boxer and Military World Games gold medalist, became a U.S. All Army boxing coach in 2016 and saw something in Lane as he sparred in the ring.

“He has this high intensity while still remaining disciplined in his technique,” said Shepherd. “He is careful to maintain a competition mindset and remain mentally focused on the invisible opponent to constantly try and out-do himself.”

After just a few months of training together, Lane entered to compete in the Sugar Bert Boxing Title Belt National Qualifier. Due to unforeseen circumstances with the organization, Lane was rescheduled to fight one day later than originally anticipated which heavily affected his routine and his weight.

Lane weighed in at a half pound over the cutoff and was moved up to the next weight class resulting in him having to fight a competitor 11 pounds heavier than expected.

“As soon as he stepped off the scale he was the underdog,” said Shepherd. “But instead of complaining he bit down and accepted the challenge.”

Lane’s new opponent had a different fighting style and used the extra weight to his advantage.

“I’d catch him with a hit or two and he would put all his weight on me,” said Lane. “He got real heavy after a while and I felt it in my back. His tactic was definitely working.”

Despite feeling worn out towards the end, Lane said he shifted his focus back to both his boxing training and Army training.

“That’s when my warrior mentality kicked in,” said Lane. “I know I’m not always going to be on equal terms whether I’m in or out of the ring. This was my opponent and I had to beat him.”

The underdog pulled through. Lane was announced the winner.

“I was so overwhelmed,” said Lane. “I was happy, relieved, proud. Getting re-classed for weight right before the fight was a definite hit to my attitude and made this win mean so much more.”

Now a state title belt winner, Lane said his new focus is training for the regional tournament.

“Since I am training military athletes I can count on their discipline and resiliency more,” said Shepherd. “Boxing is different than any other sport. We play basketball, we play baseball, we play football. Nobody plays boxing.”