Began to Box

Began to Box

As a Lance Corporal with 18 months service, I was put in charge of a dorm of freshly minted Marines at Naval Communications Training Center, Corey Field, Pennsacola, Florida. I’m not sure that I needed it, but I soon had an “enforcer” who helped me control the rowdy barracks crowd of probably 75. Kenny was always able to better gain the attention of the others, and help me control the chaos. He was a natural leader that everyone looked up to, PFC out of boot and an all around great guy that everyone liked.

We were being schooled to be “cold war warriors” and after some months, Ken for whatever reason was not able to pass into the advanced phase of training. ( I am certain that the reasons were not academic). He was sent up to 2nd Marine Division, and after arriving there began to box, eventually becoming All Marine heavyweight Champ. I understand that it was for the first time in his life that he had boxed. I have always wondered how far Ken Norton would have made it if he had done the Golden Gloves and Olympics like so many of the people he left laying on the mat.

Tom Piercy
Cpl of Marines

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • G.R. Archuleta, Retired Gunny USMC

    Hello Tom, the great Ken Norton did become the NABF champion in 1973 by beating Mohammad Ali . He was also the WBC champion in 1978. Incidentally, another Marine, Leon Spinks, beat Ali to become the WBC champion in 1978. However, Spinks refused to fight Norton the same year and was stripped of his title which was then awarded to Ken Norton. A little confusing. Hope this helps.

  • B. Gordon Cpl Korean Era

    While stationed at the Mcalester OK Naval Ammunition depot after returning from Korea, we had 3-Round 3-Minute (Smokers we called them) with the inmates at the Big Mac Penitentiary. I don’t know how this got started. It was going on in late 1951 when I arrived. We had one Marine who was a former Golden Gloves guy who was really good. I don’t think he ever lost a bout. But the weird thing was that the locals who attended would cheer for the inmates. The local people didn’t have a high regard for the Marines being in their town for some reason? When we went to the Red Ball Saloon in town for refreshments, or other bars, the locals would like to get a little rowdy with us.

  • Travis Rymer Sgt USMC Semper Fi

    Hi Tom, I was stationed at NCTC, Old Corey Field 1970-73 as a Remington Raider (Administrative Clerk). I enlisted in the Marines rather than be be drafted in the Army. I missed going to Nam by one week.

  • Top Pro USMC ’64-’84

    Hi Tom – Having spent most of my career in the Corps as either a comm tech or operator, I was interested that you attended Naval Communications Training Center, Corey Field, Pennascola. What type of training did you receive there? I know that the Marine Corps used Navy schools for communications traiining for a very long time prior to the establishment of Marine Corps Comm/Elect Schools in San Diego, and I would be interested in hearing about Corey Field. Regarding boxing, the gym at Camp Lejeune had a very high reputation of producing good boxers for AAU and the olymics. When I was there in the mid-70’s, I remember literally running into Leon Spinks at the main PX. I can’t remember the name of the coach, but he was world reknown for producing great boxers. Semper Fi!

Leave a comment