By Sgt. Nancy Poyser
"I found out just before my bout that I wouldnt be fighting the same person I thought I was. I wasnt exactly upset, but I did want to fight that (other) guy," said Sgt. Luis Rodriguez. "But that is usually how it goes for amateurs, you dont know anything about the person that you are going to fight."
With a technical knockout just into the second round, Rodriguez, Company A, 721st Military Intelligence Battalion, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, won the Georgia Middleweight Kickboxing title for the second time.
After several demonstrations and 13 fights, Rodriguez knows his way around the ring, but said his opponents strategy made it a difficult fight.
"He was new to the ring, and because of that, he wanted to keep rushing me. It was a constant in-my-face type of fight, and I had to keep backing up to do anything to him. He did hit hard when he hit me and he didnt hit me that often," said Rodriguez.
The TKO was earned when his opponents coach called the fight.
"Its always good to end a fight on a note like that," said Rodriguez.
To appease the autograph hungry children, Rodriguez signed autographs on everything from programs to T-shirts while waiting for his bout. "I had fun signing autographs. No one has every approached me for that before," he said.
Rodriguez plans to continue his everyday kickboxing training regimen and to teach some classes to further his black belt. He wants to turn professional soon.
"Its just a matter of gaining a sponsor," said Rodriquez. He will defend his national title toward the end of this year. He had won the 1996 Professional Karate Commission National Kickboxing Championship in Atlanta, Ga.
The champ offered some advice for others who want to get into the sport.
"Make sure you are ready. Its a very physical thing, and you are going to get hit. Workouts are tough, and we dont baby anyone. This is a sport that you must have total dedication for," he said.
Rodriguez said he had plenty of appreciation for those who showed up to support him.
"That was one of the greatest feelings for me, when I got in the ring and I started looking around and seeing familiar faces. It felt really great to turn around that entire ring and see everyone that I knew, that I work with. That has never happened before. I want to express my deepest gratitude to those who came," he said.
Sgt. Poyser is the public affairs NCO for the 702d MI Group, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort Gordon, Ga.
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Last Updated: July 08, 1997