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Boxing Instills Warrior Mindset at Academy

By Ray Bowden, U.S.Air Force Academy Public Affairs


Boxing has a different ring to it at the Air Force Academy now that all female cadets must step through the ropes.

Previously, women took the Academy’s mandatory Combatives I and II courses, but only male cadets were required to put on boxing gloves.

The change follows Defense Department guidelines published in January opening combat roles to women.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said getting women into the ring is a logical step.

“The Secretary of Defense opened all military occupations and positions to women without exception,” she said. “It makes sense the Academy provides our female cadets the same boxing and combative training we provide our male cadets.”

Johnson said boxing enhances cadets’ educational opportunities.

“They learn to overcome adversity, develop resiliency, act with ethical decision making and maintain composure under pressure,” she said. “This is all part of something bigger — the warrior ethos, a mindset all of us in the profession of arms must maintain every day we serve.”

The change in curriculum took place after all cadets were screened to form the baseline for a concussion study examining the impact of head injuries. Previously, female cadets learned basic grappling and striking techniques.

Blake Baldi, director of the boxing course, said safety is always a priority.

“Our boxing environment is intense but safe,” he said. “The course is not designed to see who can land the hardest punch — it’s designed to prepare cadets to handle an intense situation in an unfamiliar environment. Anyone can approach an intense situation, but it’s how you react to it that matters. Cadets definitely appreciate and understand how this course brings this home.”

The Army made boxing mandatory for female cadets this year. Navy opened the ring to women in 1996.