Military Police soldier applies Warrior Ethos to ‘sweet science’ of boxing
(Note: This story originally appeared on Defense Department websites in 2012).
When Spc. Neil Tremethick of the 49th Military Police Brigade landed a full-time gig at the California Military Department headquarters in Sacramento, he began scouting the area for a good gym. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program staffer knew he needed to plug some fresh energy into his workout routine if he was going to stay motivated. For something new, Tremethick turned to something old, one of America’s most historic sports: the “sweet science” of boxing.
“One day I drove by Grimz Gym
,” Tremethick said of his January 2011 visit to the Sacramento boxing club where he now regularly trains. “I was just going to try doing it for a workout, but I went in for one session and I was hooked.”
Less than two years later, the aspiring pugilist has three amateur fights under his belt as well as a No. 5 United Combat Association
(UCA) ranking in the welterweight class. The UCA is a California-based, amateur boxing-ranking organization that pits law enforcement,
firefighting and military personnel against one another in the squared circle. Among those ranks, Tremethick is a rising star, having yielded losses
to only top-ranked opponents.
“The first fight, there was a lot of nervous ness and excitement,” Tremethick said of
his 2011 debut and narrow loss to Francis co Flores of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s
Department. “It seems kind of unreal that you’re actually in a fight. The six minutes
go by so quick.”
Tremethick took his initial loss in stride, and if anything, the experience only whet his appetite. Back in Sacramento, he dove into his training at Grimz Gym, spending a couple of hours most nights sparring, working through drills to improve his footwork, speed and power, and enduring what his trainer calls “the 30-minute special.”
“It’s a lot like CrossFit,” Tremethick said of the torturous half-hour sessions. “He mixes it
up every night. It builds endurance through high-intensity workouts.”
Tremethick seemed predestined for the hardships — and the victories — that come from a demanding sport like boxing. Born in the Philippines, he was adopted by his aunt and her American husband when he was 11 years old. After a transitional stay in Germany, he moved near Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, where his adopted father served as a Russian linguist. The moves and the inherent trials only made him stronger.
“Being in Germany and not knowing English, the kids made a lot of fun of me for my
accent,” Tremethick said. “California was a lot more accepting. They had classes here where they teach English, and I made a lot of friends that way also.”
Now a supply specialist with the Fairfield-based 49th Military Police Brigade
, Tremethick has benefitted from the work ethic and discipline taught through his Army National Guard training. That Warrior Ethos, he said, translates well into the boxing ring.
“The military training does help a lot as far as pushing through the pain. It takes a lot of discipline to commit to something like this,” Tremethick said. “In boxing, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, he’s going to keep coming at you. You just gotta suck it up.”
Tremethick took that determination into his second bout. “[Losing my first fight] left a bad taste in my mouth,” he told reporters before his March 31 fight against Chris Martinez of the Avenal Police Department.
Sporting a compact frame that lends itself to quick punching and inside body blows, it quickly became apparent Tremethick had tapped into his strengths for his second amateur fight. Relentless and precise punching marked his style throughout the contest, and in the second round, Tremethick served Martinez a flurry of head and body shots that resulted in a standing eight count — a referee-enforced break in the action that protects a boxer who has endured punishment.
In the end, the Soldier won a decision over Martinez, who remains the No. 6-
ranked welterweight UCA fighter, only one spot behind Tremethick. Tremethick’s impressive victory over Martinez earned him a UCA Northern California title shot at the Oct. 6 Battle of the Badges in downtown Sacramento.
Located outdoors on the bustling city streets, the night carried a contagious electricity that energized the scores of spectators in attendance. Tremethick, however, cared little for the vocal crowd and devoted his energy toward preparing for the night’s title fight. Trading time between shadow boxing and watching videos of his favorite boxer and fellow Philippines native Manny Pacquiao, Tremethick looked the picture of intensity. He knew he would need that passion to defeat his opponent, top-
ranked Brent Bugarin, a powerful fighter with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s
Department, whose hard-punching style promised
to be an exciting contrast to Tremethick’s speed and precision.
It became clear upon the first bell that Bugarin had done his homework. Knowing Tremethick relies heavily on speed and conditioning, Bugarin had spent extra hours at the gym improving his own endurance and handwork in an effort to remove that advantage. The strategy paid immediate dividends, as Bulgarian emerged after the opening bell with a fury, landing Tremethick on the ring floor after a seemingly endless barrage of punches.
After surviving round 1, Tremethick quickly adjusted his game plan and became the aggressor, trading heavy blows with Bulgarian throughout rounds 2 and 3. By the final bell, however, the damage had been done on the judges’ score cards, and Bugarin claimed
the title by unanimous decision.
“I knew he had a lot of speed and his conditioning was good,” Bugarin told reporters
after the fight. “I just had to work hard at the gym and keep going as much as I could
Bugarin earned a forthcoming UCA state title shot with the win, and despite the
loss, Tremethick maintains a top-5 spot for holding his own against the weight class’ top-ranked challenger. In addition, the bad taste in his mouth grows only stronger, causing him to reflect on the words from the Warrior Ethos, and apply it to his young but promising boxing career: “I will never quit. I will never accept defeat.