CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Not one of the 18 contestants in Saturday Night at the Fights has been to an All-Service camp or competed in an All-Armed Forces championship. Some have only been training and in the ring for less than a month.

But members of the Marine Corps Community Services boxing club on Okinawa say there’s a tangible benefit:

“One of the key things the Marines concentrate on is PT,” or physical training, said super-heavyweight Michael Marcell, who won his bout on Saturday night’s card in the Foster Field House. “If this isn’t PT, I don’t know what is.”

Marcell, 18, a lance corporal assigned to Camp Foster who hails from Louisville, Ky. — home of boxing great Muhammad Ali, has only been training for a month, and plans to keep going as long as his supply unit supervisors and commanding officers let him.

“This is awesome,” he added. “I love it. God bless them for doing it.”

Though boxing has been a regular part of island athletics since 1995, Saturday Night at the Fights has only been in existence since MCCS Okinawa took over the program last June.

The nine-bout exhibition Saturday was attended by more than 1,000 boisterous spectators from bases around the island, a crowd that included former WBA welterweight champion Nobuaki Hiranaka of Japan.

Under the direction of Marine Master Sgt. Emanuel Simmons, a former pro boxer in the early 1980s, the Marine Boxing Club trains three times a week at the Foster Field House, with Saturday Night at the Fights held every three months.

While none of the roughly 30 club members have All-Armed Forces experience, Simmons feels a handful just might make the grade, and Saturday Night at the Fights gives them the testing they need.

“They get the experience. They get those butterflies out of their stomachs, they pick up skills and they see different fighting styles,” Simmons said.

With every passing Saturday Night at the Fights, the competition gets better and the crowds get larger, said meet organizer Corey Carter of the Foster Field House athletic staff.

“We’re happy we took this over,” he said. “Each one gets better and better. And this is what the Marines like to do. It makes their readiness more better. What better way for them to train and show their skill? Box.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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