Danny Graves watches on as Jessica Toreno practices her boxing technique on the speed bag at the base gym at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Sept. 19, 2013. Graves runs the boxing clinic for amateur boxers and beginners at the fitness center on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Taylor Curry)
Danny Graves watches on as Jeremy Shaw and Kevin Fletcher spar during a boxing session he teaches at the fitness center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Sept. 19, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Taylor Curry)
by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
10/11/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Growing up in a professional boxing home, with constant training, matches and running his family's boxing camp, Coach Danny Graves has grown to appreciate the fine art of his intense sport and now shares that appreciation with Fairchild Airmen.
Graves, age 68, is currently a coach for the USA Amateur Boxing Association, working in the base fitness center during the summer and fall seasons. He was trained by his father, World Boxing Hall of Famer, Jackie Graves. Jackie was a Golden Gloves Champion in 1942. In October 2006, he was posthumously inducted into the hall of fame.
"I grew up watching my father box," Graves said. "I wish I understood at the time how great he really was as he'd draw crowds of thousands to his fights. He was a rock star and a great influence in my eyes."
Graves has had a passion for this sport since he was 6 years old. He was interested in becoming a boxing instructor when he was in high school.
"My peers just wanted to learn how to fight, so I then began to take it seriously," said Graves. "I became fascinated by the way the fighters threw the punches and why they did."
When asked about his favorite aspect of boxing, he mentioned being around fellow boxers is the greatest part of the sport.
"It's all about the camaraderie," he added. "You just respect everyone around you while building pride and character, something a lot of younger people don't have."
The workouts involved with his boxing clinic are tailored to the individuals with consideration for their physical abilities, ages and learning levels. For more advanced mixed martial arts or boxing students, the clinic is more intense in the skills and endurance training for competition.
"Exercises start with stretches, and then I coach my students in the correct use of a variety of boxing equipment and techniques," said Graves. "Boxing is something you don't learn overnight. It takes years because there is so much to learn. A three-minute round is a long time if you don't know what you're doing. You first have to learn how to dance."
Graves also served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1991. He is a retired Seabee utilitiesman 1st class petty officer.
"When I was in the Navy, I didn't have much time for boxing, but my buddies and I would still find ways to fit it into the schedule," he said. "We would organize 'smokers', which are basically unofficial amateur brawls that were kept off the record. I always tried to find a place to hit a bag though."
Being at Fairchild, Graves passes on his knowledge of the sport to men, women, children and just about anyone interested in the sport. But mostly, he really influences the Airmen here.
"Boxing can really benefit Airmen because it teaches discipline and how to work well with others," he said. "It helps with goal-setting and keeping the mind sharp. It helps you stay healthy, and it earns you respect from your peers. There are many ways an Airman can stay healthy, but the experience you get from boxing will last a lifetime."
Spending the last seven years at Fairchild has been the greatest experience for him in his profession, Graves added.
"I really enjoy helping the Airmen here," he said. "If they never showed up--I would probably just be fishing."