JACKSONVILLE, N.C. --
Teams participating in the 53rd World Military Boxing Championship hosted by the Conseil International du Sport Militaire, (International Military Sports Council), aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, took part in a cultural day event around the community and at the Coastal Plains Raceway, Jacksonville, N.C., Oct. 15.
The cultural event gave the athletes the opportunity to learn about each other’s similarities, differences and also experience American culture. As with all CISM events, the cultural day helps embody the CISM motto “Friendship though Sport.”
The CISM athletes spent time touring Jacksonville, shopping at various stores, then later retreated to the Coastal Plains Raceway to watch local racers tear up the track.
“I think it was a great opportunity for the boxers to see another part of the United States,” said Leftenant Michael Jules, chief of mission for Barbados. “(The fighters) got to be close up to the drivers (at the race) and to engage in America’s favorite pastime: shopping, although some of the guys pre-empted you and were shopping since the day they got here.”
Local racer Jason Line, who competed at the raceway in car number 3, said that in all 41 years of his life, he has never met anyone from Kazakhstan and on the night of the races, he was privileged to meet two people. Line added that his own family originated in Czechoslovakia, so it was interesting to meet people from that side of the world.
“The language barrier is obviously tough,” said Line. “But it’s very interesting to meet them. It’s pretty cool.”
Line added that regardless of what sport an individual participates in, whether it is racing, boxing or even golf, there is one thing that they all share: culture.
“I think it’s great for the boxers to come out tonight - one of them almost ripped my arm off (shaking my hand),” said Line. “For me, to watch somebody in their profession, that is truly great at it, it’s fun. That’s what America is: a melting pot of all these different cultures put together.”
Gunnery Sgt. Barrett Kahl, a quality assurance evaluator with MCB Camp Lejeune food services, remembers a particular bout between two boxers the night before the cultural day, where both athletes were seemingly ‘trying to kill each other.’
During the cultural day event, the same two boxers were seen having a great time together playing video games and sharing laughs.
“It’s competition in the ring, but after the bouts are over it’s all about sportsmanship,” said Kahl. “They’re playing video games and pool together and exchanging Facebook profiles with each other when, not too long ago they were just in the ring beating each other up.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Frank Rodriquez, a finance officer with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune, said he originally had some concerns being tasked out to CISM, not knowing what it was about, and with the amount of work that had to be done. His thoughts were soon drastically changed.
“I have Marines that have worked day and night, some of the guys haven’t seen their families in a few days,” said Rodriguez. “This is even my first change of clothes in three days. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything; we wish we could do it for another week. It’s one of the best experiences I have ever had as a Marine. We really have bonded with these guys. This has been a tremendous success for the Marines who have never been anywhere, as well as their young guys to experience America and our hospitality.”