Officer Cadet Todd Ledwith, currently in training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, blogs once again. He’s been fighting…
I wrote in one of my previous blogs about moments that would be engraved upon my mind forever; Sandhurst provided another such occasion this week.
After 12 weeks of early morning training sessions twice a week and hours spent honing our skills, the Academy Boxing Night was finally upon us. Those who were in line to fight had their final weigh-in on the morning of the event and then a medical to ensure that they were fit to fight. The day then consisted of the Military Written Test (an assessment of our military knowledge which is also a Sovereign’s banner event) and an introductory lecture on the different personal weapons systems currently employed by the Army. In all honesty, I found it hard to devote my full attention to anything during the day, not least because the fights were yet to be formally announced. Finally, it was 4 o’clock and everyone returned to the transformed gym to hear the match-ups. When my name was read out, the familiar feeling of foreboding which always accompanies such moments reared its head but I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to box and represent the college on such a grand scale. After rehearsing the required in-ring drill, we were told to return at 6 to begin preparing ourselves for the fights ahead.
I was to fight 7th on the card and as a result I was able to watch much of the event prior to warming up. The standard of boxing exhibited by everyone was excellent and the atmosphere inside the hall was electric. When the first of our boxers stepped through the doors, the sound of the screaming crowd was so unexpectedly deafening that it had everyone hopping around in anticipation of when it would be their turn to step into the bright lights. And then, suddenly, it was my turn. As I stepped through to the sounds of the drums and the shouts rose from the crowd, I knew that this would be another moment I would carry with me for the rest of my life. However, as is always the case with such intense experiences, I remember little after that aside from dodging punches (but definitely not all of them), throwing punches (some of which landed) and someone in the crowd shouting “Box him, Ledwith!”. The latter is so ingrained because I remember thinking ‘what a redundant thing to shout’. I wish that I could give a blow-by-blow account of the fight itself but the details escape me. Somewhere in the second round the referee called an end to the fight and I was declared the winner, I collected my trophy and then walked back to the changing room through the shouting crowd in mild disbelief that it was over and that I had won. I promptly called my Mum to let her know that I was still in one piece and after enjoying the rest of the fights and seeing Old College emerge victorious over the combined forces of the Intermediate and Senior terms of New College, I was awarded Best Boxer of the night. With trophies in hand, all the boxers were then treated to curry and drinks in the Sergeants’ Mess and then returned home to a few hours sleep before the next day began as usual. It was an amazing event and my thanks, and those of all the boxers, go out to all those who organised it, the members of the Sergeant’s Mess who hosted us afterwards and to our coaches, who prepared us all so well, ultimately making the event.
After almost recovering from the events of Tuesday night, we deployed on Exercise SECOND ATTACK on Thursday evening which gave us an opportunity to hone our Platoon Attack and Advance to Contact skills. Despite some rather cold conditions, we did not let the snow hinder us and everyone came away more confident in these skills. Upon returning on Friday evening and writing our orders for deployment on our next exercise, Saturday saw everyone in the Platoon pass their Combat Fitness Test. The CFT consists of an 8 mile walk carrying 25kgs of weight (including a rifle) in under two hours.
Now, with all our kit loaded and on the way to Wales, all that is left to do is try and get a good night’s sleep before we draw weapons at 0430 and move out at 0600 to begin Exercise CRYCHAN’S CHALLENGE. No doubt the Commissioning Course will provide us all with some lasting memories in the week to come also.