Army Men’s Boxing regains National Championship

Maj. Will Kobbe Army Boxing OIC

The Army West Point Men’s Boxing team took a team photo after earning its seventh team national championship April 9 at the University of Washington. Four boxers earned individual titles as freshman Carlan Ivey (125 lbs.), junior Curtis Estes (165 lbs.), sophomore Egbezien “Ebbe” Obiomon (185 lbs.) and senior Jacob Conley (195+ pounds) each won.                                                            Courtesy Photo

One team, one mission to reclaim the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) National Title.

From April 7-9, the Army West Point Men’s Boxing team earned its seventh team national championship while four boxers earned individual titles at the University of Washington.

To say that the Army West Point Men’s Boxing team took this mission as an obsession would be an understatement.

From the start of the 2016 Boxing season, one phrase, three words encompassed what needed to be accomplished: “Road to Seven.”

Three simple words, repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times during practice, conditionings or random hall passing.

Though a simple phrase, the words have meaning. “Road” implies a long, arduous journey filled with successes and defeats. “Seven” outlines the legacy that the West Point Men’s Boxing team has to fulfill, the Academy has produced six NCBA National Title teams in the past eight seasons.

The team has adopted a hand and arm signal to accompany this phase, a single index finger tapping against the temple of one’s skull.

The gesture hits home, “Championships are won in the mind.”

The road began August 2015 with head coach Dr. Ray Barone’s initial assessment of the team.

Over 120 cadets attempted to fill 60 positions. By early September, rosters were set and the “Road to Seven” officially began.

This “Road to Seven” continued through several months of bouts, the Brigade Boxing Open and regionals, then finally the team reached its destination.

The bouts commenced April 7 in the Alaskan Airlines Arena on the campus of University of Washington.

Though all boxers fought gallantly through quarterfinal and semifinal matches, six Army Boxers remained for the final bouts April 9.

Entering the evening’s competition, Army West Point held a slim 20-19 point advantage over the U.S. Air Force Academy in the overall team component.

One-by-one, each boxer fought for a chance at team and individual glory.

• Senior Alan Alvarado (119 lbs.) fought valiantly, but ultimately relinquished his crown as two-time defending National Champion.

• Freshman Carlan Ivey (125 lbs.) secured AWP’s first National Individual Championship, fighting three bouts in three consecutive days.

Ivey, a plebe, had no previous boxing experience entering West Point, unanimously defeated a senior boxer from U.C. Davis in the final.

His effort was the catalyst for the remainder of the evening, Army would not be stopped.

• Freshman Vonn Grant (139 lbs.), also a newcomer to the sport, dropped a close split decision in the championship bout after two successive preliminary fights.

Grant, who played football at USMAPS, is a fast rising talent on the team, but lost to a 25-year-old senior boxer from Reno in the finals.

• Junior Curtis Estes (165 lbs.) steamrolled his way to the national final with two consecutive unanimous decisions.

Estes knew what was at stake continuing this momentum in the final with an absolute flawless one-sided victory over a senior from West Virginia University.

• Sophomore Egbezien “Ebbe” Obiomon (185 lbs.) ascent in the boxing ranks is a unique journey.

Ebbe was recruited to USMA as a Corps Squad Football running back and quickly fell in love with the sport of boxing through PE116 “Plebe Boxing.”

The raw abilities and talent manifested itself in the championship bout as Ebbe went toe-to-toe with Navy’s best, a senior Midshipmen, who previously fought in consecutive national finals.

Ebbe left no doubt and won a highly competitive, physical battle.

With his win, the AWP secured the team national championship.

• Senior Jacob Conley (195+lbs), a smaller stature heavyweight with fast hands, quickly dispensed his semifinal match within the first round due to referee stoppage.

Throughout three rounds of the final, Conley masterfully connected on multiple combinations while adhering to Coach Barone’s incessant calls to “stay away from his 2!”

Conley carved his opponent up in the six minutes, mercilessly landing scoring blows.

The decision would be unanimous. Conley completed his boxing career as an individual national champion with his victory over an Air Force opponent.

Four individual titles, one team title, mission accomplished—the “Road to Seven” completed.

When the team arrived back at West Point April 10, the weary warriors assembled in front of Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center to break it down one last time.

Ebbe, with championship belt in hand, led the charge with one simple phrase as the team shouted: “Road to Eight.”

When asked the prognosis for next year’s team’s chances to accomplish the “Road to Eight,” Coach Barone exhaled with, “This is a young, talented team. They will make AWP Men’s Boxing extremely competitive to win again next year.”