Marine wins spot in Olympic boxing

15 Aug 2011 | Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

For the first time in 20 years, a Marine has been selected to compete in the 2012 Olympics Boxing in London.

Standing at five feet ten inches and weighing 141 pounds, Cpl. Jamal Herring, a boxer with the All-Marine Boxing Team, currently holds the title of number one rated amateur boxer in the Light Welterweight weight class.

Herring is the first Marine since Sergio Reyes to represent the Marine Corps since the 1992 Olympics.

Herring, who lived in Coram, New York, first started boxing in high school and since then has fallen in love with the sport.

“It all started when a close friend of mine kept nagging me to go to the gym with him,” said Herring. “His dad was a trainer and after the first week, I was constantly sore. But, I’m not a quitter so I kept training.”

After high school, Herring enlisted into the Marine Corps and stopped boxing so he could deploy. In 2006, Herring was chosen for the All-Marine Boxing Team. But, in 2007, he left the team to deploy again only to rejoined the team 2008 and has been on it ever since.

In order to qualify to play in the Olympics, Herring had to win the 2011 Armed Forces tournament.

From training in high school to holding the title of number one amateur boxer, Herring said he could not have done it by himself.

“I just had faith in God, my team and especially my coaches,” said Herring. “One coach especially is Gunnery Sgt. Narcisco Aleman. He always got on my case and pushed me further than I thought I could go.”

Herring also spoke about Gunnery Sgt. Reuben Woodruff who also pushed him to his limits. Another main inspiration was head coach Jesse Ravelo, who was also the head coach for the 1996 Olympics team, and has helped Herring improve his technique.

Making it to the Olympics team was not an easy feat. It has required Herring to push himself every day. A regular day for Herring begins with a two to nine mile run, a workout at noon and at times, a third workout was also thrown in.

Workouts focus on a variety of skills including strength, cardio and conditioning. Herring also spends time on bag drills, improving his speed and also footwork.

“I’m not going to lie, I, at times doubted myself but my coaches and my teammates said I had what it took to be number one if I just believed in myself,” said Herring. “Now I just need to work on finishing off strong. It’s a mental thing and I just need to finish off the way I started and not get to lax.”

In a few weeks, Herring will go to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will train until September 17. Afterward, he will compete in the World Games to qualify to compete in the Olympics.

“It feels great to be the first Marine in 20 years to make the Olympic team,” said Herring. “I think my parents would be proud whether I won or lost, especially my mom who knows how much I went through to get to where I am at.”

One thing that pushes Herring to continue to perfect his game is what he fights for. He is a father of two boys and said he fights for his daughter, who passed away.

“He’s going to do good when qualifying at the world games and will only continue to get better, the sky’s the limit for him,” said Woodruff.