Yokosuka sailor gets shot at All-Navy Boxing Team
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — As a junior in high school, Robert Dominguez had the idea of joining the Navy and trying out for the All-Navy Boxing Team.
Some might say the idea just stuck, but the 19-year-old seaman likes to think that it was pounded in.
Growing up in Miami, Dominguez, the son of Cuban immigrants, tried a host of sports: football, soccer, martial arts. But none felt quite right.
At the suggestion of his parents, he and his cousin tried boxing in his back yard, where he discovered he had a gift — he could punch really hard.
“Boxing felt right,” said the 135-pound Dominguez. “So I joined a local gym called the Young Tigers Foundation.”
Years later, he joined the Navy through the delayed-entry program, with the hopes of boxing on the Navy team.
After boot camp and schooling to become a personnel specialist, he arrived aboard the Yokosuka-based cruiser USS Shiloh about a year ago. There he submitted his package for a shot at the All-Navy Boxing Team.
When he wasn’t at sea, he spent weekends training at Yokohama’s Ohashi Boxing Gym.
But then, as part of the Navy’s Pay and Personnel Ashore initiative, Dominguez was transferred off the ship to Yokosuka’s Personnel Support Detachment.
He had to get approval from a new chain of command and submit a new package for the boxing team. But the submission deadline had already passed, and Dominguez didn’t know if he was going to make it.
Determination kept him running in the mornings and working out in the gym after work. While there were certain benefits from the constant physical training — “the ladies really seemed to like it,” he says — Dominguez anxiously waited to hear back on his package.
According to his senior enlisted adviser, Chief Petty Officer Mark Helm, e-mails hinting that Dominguez might be accepted circulated for weeks, but nothing official.
Then it happened.
Final approval arrived Dec. 3, Helm said Thursday, and Dominguez was to fly out Saturday.
Helm, also a boxing enthusiast, is proud of the seaman.
“I think this is great,” he said. “I told him that I would be his pen pal. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Dominguez is excited, too, but his is more tempered as he prepares for the task ahead.
“Chasing your dream” can be a little daunting, he said. In five years, “God willing, I will be training for the 2012 Olympics.”
The All-Navy Boxing Team is based in Ventura, Calif. Candidates must complete a training camp before competing for a spot on the team. Afterward, fighters represent the Navy in the 2008 Armed Forces Championships, a single-elimination format tournament featuring 11 weight classes, ranging from 106 to 201-plus pounds.
Click here for more information on the boxing team.