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Keeping his legacy alive: Air Force boxer uses skill & will to better Airmen and community

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge and former Armed Forces Boxing Gold Medalist, keeps his legacy alive by training the next generation of boxers from Peterson Air Force Base and the local Colorado Springs community. Eight years into his military and boxing career, Summerville rose to the top of all U.S. military boxers and proclaimed not only his service, but himself as a champion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge and former Armed Forces Boxing Gold Medalist, keeps his legacy alive by training the next generation of boxers from Peterson Air Force Base and the local Colorado Springs community. Eight years into his military and boxing career, Summerville rose to the top of all U.S. military boxers and proclaimed not only his service, but himself as a champion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, teaches Airmen basic boxing fundamentals and physical fitness in the Fitness Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 19, 2017. The class is free and open to all Team Pete service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, teaches Airmen basic boxing fundamentals and physical fitness in the Fitness Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 19, 2017. The class is free and open to all Team Pete service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, laces the gloves of Isaac Johnson, Colorado Springs professional boxer, at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville grew up in Alaska where boxing wasn’t a popular sport. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, laces the gloves of Isaac Johnson, Colorado Springs professional boxer, at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville grew up in Alaska where boxing wasn’t a popular sport. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, trains Isaac Johnson, Colorado Springs professional boxer, and other boxers at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville is a decorated former competitive boxer with two Air Force titles and one Armed Force Golden Glove championship under his belt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, trains Isaac Johnson, Colorado Springs professional boxer, and other boxers at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville is a decorated former competitive boxer with two Air Force titles and one Armed Force Golden Glove championship under his belt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge (right), coaches a boxer at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville preserves his boxing legacy by reaching out to Airmen and the Colorado Springs community to train youth in boxing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge (right), coaches a boxer at the Colorado Springs Judo Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 20, 2017. Summerville preserves his boxing legacy by reaching out to Airmen and the Colorado Springs community to train youth in boxing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Staff Sgt. Rosey Summerville from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, throws a left jab at Army Capt. Christopher Munar from Fort Carson, Colo., during the U.S. Armed Forces Boxing Championship finals March 9, 2007, at Bennett Fitness Center on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Summerville won the gold medal by decision, 32-11, in the featherweight class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robbin Cresswell)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Staff Sgt. Rosey Summerville from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, throws a left jab at Army Capt. Christopher Munar from Fort Carson, Colo., during the U.S. Armed Forces Boxing Championship finals March 9, 2007, at Bennett Fitness Center on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Summerville won the gold medal by decision, 32-11, in the featherweight class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robbin Cresswell)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Rosey Summerville’s story begins back in 1980 in Fairbanks, Alaska. His father moved up north from Mississippi to work on the Alaskan pipeline.

Due to the cold weather, the predominant sport where he grew up was basketball, sheltered indoors away from the extreme elements. His stature was smaller and skinnier than the other kids so he was hardly interested in playing, but he had this inextinguishable fire smoldering inside him waiting for a competitive outlet. He was ready to discover his potential.

The discovery finally happened when young, 9-year-old Summerville opened a magazine and read an article about a boxer he heard only great things about from his brothers. They called him the baddest man on the planet and the invincible Iron Mike Tyson. However, this article Summerville read hardly described him as invincible. In fact, it was about Tyson’s crushing defeat at the hands of the 43:1 underdog, Buster Douglas.

When Summerville read about that particular fight, he realized that anyone has the potential to be great regardless of predetermined circumstances, like where you are from or how big you are. In that moment, Summerville found major inspiration and began taking steps toward unleashing his own potential and doing great things with his life.

Many years and thousands of steps later, Tech. Sgt. Rosey Summerville, 21st Force Support Squadron fitness NCO in charge, steps into a gym as a former Armed Forces Boxing Gold Medalist eager to keep his legacy alive by training the next generation of boxers from Peterson Air Force Base and the local Colorado Springs community.

Before standing atop a podium, centered above a number one marking with a gold medal hanging around his neck, Summerville had to take the first few steps of his thousand foot journey.

Summerville said that up until high school he was mostly a boxing sponge, reading, watching and studying everything about the sport.

“I had the challenge of growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska,” said Summerville. “In my very small town there was no boxing gym, all we had was a small shopping plaza. However, in my high school years, our Boys and Girls Club stood up a boxing program so that’s how I got really into the sport and started competing.”

Eager to officially step foot in the ring, Summerville said he traveled with the Boys and Girls Club to Anchorage, Alaska, to compete in his first fight. He ended up walking away from that trip with the ArcticFest Boxing Title.

Armed with the swagger of a newly crowned champion, Summerville set his sights on seeing more of the world than his small Alaskan hometown.

“I wanted to get out of Fairbanks,” Summerville said. “I wanted to experience the rest of the world so I enlisted in the Air Force. I eventually landed at my first base in Kansas, and the first thing I did was join a local gym.”

Although Summerville won his first title, he was still green to the competitive side of the sport, but being new never bothered him. He said his will was so strong that all he was concerned about was moving forward and making his punches count.

“I had a will to get in there and compete,” said Summerville. “I had a couple of fights with that team and won the Kansas/Oklahoma Golden Gloves on my third official fight. I didn’t really have a great skill level at that time, but it was more about my will to get in there and go rounds with boxers who were better than me. It’s not always about your skill, it’s about your will.”

Summerville learned about the Air Force Boxing Program and said he was ready to see if he could make it.

“When I first tried out for the team, in San Antonio, I hurt my foot right before the final box off, and was sent home,” said Summerville. “When I got home, I healed up and competed in some small fights, but ended up changing station to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and found myself competing less.”

It wasn’t for a few more years that Summerville would end up transferring to another duty station at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. While there, he was deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, where there was an actual boxing program that got him back in the ring.

“After joining, the Airman hosting the program told me that I was really good and needed to try back out for the Air Force Boxing Team,” said Summerville. “He was on the team the year prior, and he kept telling me I had a good shot at making the cut. So when my deployment ended, I submitted my paperwork and headed to San Antonio again.”

This time was different and had a better ending than his first time.

“I boxed and won the Air Force Title,” said Summerville. “From there I went on the represent the Air Force in the United States Armed Forces Boxing Championship, where I ended up fighting a Soldier from Fort Carson, Colorado, for the championship and won.”

At age 26, eight years into his military and boxing career, Summerville rose to the top of all U.S. military boxers and proclaimed not only his service, but himself as a champion.

From that point Summerville went on to compete in the Olympic trials, Military World Games, and various state-held golden glove tournaments. If he didn’t win the title, he finished as a finalist, he said.

Nowadays, Summerville spends most of his free time advocating boxing fundamentals and training to Airmen and civilians ranging in skill levels from beginner to professional here in the Colorado Springs area. He holds a boxing class open to all of Team Pete every Thursday at 6 p.m. and ventures off base to train young boxing professionals for the same type of tournaments he won while growing up in the sport.

“This is a way for me to give back,” said Summerville. “Giving back is my way of preserving my legacy. I’m in no way ready to leave the sport so if I can help a young person who goes on to be a world champion or just an Airman who builds their confidence and physical fitness – It’s just my way of giving back to the sport that gave me so much.”

After receiving so much from boxing and the Air Force, Summerville said he plans to continue encouraging young individuals, especially Airmen, to discover their potential through boxing.

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