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FACE OF DEFENSE: Naval Academy Midshipman Compete in 75th Annual Brigade Boxing Championships


From Naval Academy Public Affairs

Petty Officer 2nd 


lass Robyn Wegele, midshipman (left), and Petty Officer 3rd Class Miriam Feild, midshipman, compete in the 69th annual U.S. Naval Academy Brigade Boxing Championships. The bouts showcase midshipmen boxers, each performing in 3-round matches within their weight class. The winners of each class will go on to a regional competition in order to qualify for the National Collegiate Boxing Championships held each spring. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 4th Class Dominic Montez, midshipman)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Twenty-four midshipman boxers competed in the Naval Academy's 75th Annual Brigade Boxing Championships Feb. 26 in Alumni Hall.

The Brigade Boxing Championships showcase the most elite midshipman boxers, each performing in three-round matches within their weight class. 

The 12 champions from this year's competition will go on to the regional competition for a chance to qualify for the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) Championships held in the spring.

Midshipman 1st Class Danny O'Neill, 22, of Medford, New York, was the only boxer of the night to earn the Tony Rubino Four-Time Brigade Champion award. Only 20 midshipmen have accomplished this feat since the award was first given in 1970.


"I am proud to be a part of Navy boxing, and I have made some of the best friends I will ever have," said O'Neill. 


The award is named after Tony Rubino, who arrived at the Naval Academy in 1947 as an assistant boxing coach to Spike Webb. In 1954 Rubino took over the head coaching duties and coached until 1963. He then became the deputy physical educational officer until his retirement in 1982, at which point he was honored with professor emeritus status.


As part of the academy's physical education program, all midshipmen are required to participate in boxing. Boxing is also offered as a club sport at the academy. The boxing team participates in invitational competitions in the fall and spring, as well as in ongoing intramural bouts. 


"We use boxing as an opportunity to create an environment in which midshipmen have to think and react under fire or stress," said head boxing coach Jim McNally. "Boxing allows mids to find out how they react to fear."


This is McNally's 30th year coaching boxing at the Naval Academy. In that time, his teams have won five national championships. He has coached 43 individual national champions who have won 61 national titles.


"At some point in [the mids'] military career, they may have to face some life and death situations where lives are at stake," McNally said. "That's not the time to find out if they can handle the fear they may be facing. Hopefully by overcoming their fears in the controlled setting of the boxing ring, it will give them confidence going forward to deal with other stressful situations."


The boxing program at the Naval Academy started in 1865, and today the Naval Academy's Brigade Boxing Championship generates hundreds of spectators and fans. 


The 2016 Brigade Boxing Champions:


Midshipman 1st Class Michelle Soto

Midshipman 3rd Class Paata Gujejiani

Midshipman 3rd Class Portia Norkaitis

Midshipman 1st Class VJ Sakbun

Midshipman 1st Class Danny O'Neill

Midshipman 1st Class Dave Von Savage

Midshipman 3rd Class Josh Gray

Midshipman 2nd Class Jordan Davis

Midshipman 1st Class Jourdan Looney

Midshipman 1st Class Reuben Druckrey

Midshipman 3rd Class Charles Patterson

Midshipman 2nd Class Stephanie Simon