ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
It was the thrill of the fight that drew a group of Robins firefighters to boxing.
Somewhere between the jabs and uppercuts at a charity boxing event, the group got hooked on the sport and its health benefits.
They’ve been boxing their way to their fitness goals ever since.
Marcus White, Robins Fire Department fire inspector, who headed up the boxing workout effort in 2016, said on any given day, there are a few guys hitting the gym and practicing their moves.
“The three of us that competed in the first year captured the attention of our peers,” he said. “A lot of the guys took a special interest and wanted to be trained. So almost daily there is some sort of training going on in the stations.”
As a small group, the firemen started incorporating boxing into their workout, building the group and their routine as years went by.
“Boxing is a skilled sport first, so there is focus that is required to ensure the effectiveness and delivery of your athleticism,” White said. “The mental fortitude required is different from any other style of training. This really is a big help with firefighters when one is faced with a life or death situation.”
White said that same demand helps his fellow firefighters and him in being cognizant and vigilant to get them out of an unfortunate situation.
“Boxing is perhaps the most physically demanding sport of all and at times so is firefighting,” he said. “A lot of cardio, high intensity workouts, interval and strength training is the recipe for fitness. We are very fortunate to have individuals like Hameed Zagadinow and Bo Guinn in the fire station that have a background in boxing. They know what it takes to be in shape for our bouts, and they possess the knowledge base to train us.”
For Capt. Nick Hamilton, Robins Fire Department lead firefighter, firefighting and boxing is a great match, building stamina and strength.
“It’s a great way to bring the guys together for a great workout in the gym,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easier to get more participation in the gym if it is done in a group setting.”
The 36-year-old father of two said the sport allows him to mix up his workout so he can stay just as sharp mentally as he is physically.
“Running on a treadmill or riding a bike in a gym can be very boring,” he said. “Boxing is a fun way to get your exercise in for the day.”
Lt. Hameed Zagadinow, Robins Fire Department firefighter, who developed his passion for boxing as a young teenager, said boxing tests skills he needs on the job as well as in the ring.
“Boxing correlates to firefighting with the intense cardiovascular training, reacting and responding in intense situations, and keeping a level frame of mind when you are physically exerted,” he said. “The part I enjoy the most is the additional teamwork fostered between fellow firefighters and holding each other accountable to maintain and exceed our physical fitness requirements.”
Zagadinow said he enjoys boxing for its cardio and stress relieving benefits.
“I think more people should do this type of training because it’s different,” he said. “You learn self-defense and 30 minutes is comparable to an hour of regular working out.”
White said the group plans to continue building on their boxing workouts and may even toss their fireman’s hats in the ring to compete in the sport.
“For us that compete, we will continue doing so,” he said. “Every year, someone different is inspired to step up and represent the department. For those that just want to use the training to stay in shape, we will continue to push and motivate each other around the firehouse. With every session, we will reach our peak and come out of the training a little stronger, a little faster, and a little smarter than how we entered it.”