Boxing Hall of Fame Monte ‘Two Gunz’ Barrett (left), spars with Staff Sgt. Francisco Mercado (right), a drill sergeant assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, during a Human Performance Seminar Jan. 11. Barrett used the sparring session to emphasize the use of visualization and holistic health to obtain peak performance and to become the best version of oneself. (Alexandra Shea)
By Alexandra Shea
By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs
As Victory Block Leave ends and the New Year begins, many Fort Jackson drill sergeants and cadre return to continue training the future of the Army. For members of 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, they return to a cycle break as their last Basic Combat Training cycle graduated prior to VBL.
Since the unit is on a cycle break, it leaves them with an opportunity to participate in a week-long Human Performance Seminar that started on Jan. 10, 2022.
“Welcome back everyone,” said Lt. Col. Dan Hayes, battalion commander. “This week is all about investing in us.”
Hayes explained how Soldiers need time to adjust to taking and returning from leave status. Soldiers and drill sergeants have unique jobs, schedules and responsibilities not found in any other profession. This can mean an extremely uneven work-life balance.
“What do we do when we return from leave?” Hayes said. “We get back into it at 100 miles per hour. That can bring stress.”
Health professionals from the Holistic Health and Fitness Team gave presentations covering the importance of enhanced nutrition, changes in mindset, quality sleep and the effects of alcohol on athletic performance.
Each of the presentations focused on informing the cadre about the negative effects the lack of self-care can cause and showed them ways to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
“We have a Hall of Famer here to reinforce these principles,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Stuart Sword. “I would like you to meet boxer Monte Barrett.”
Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett grew up in Queens, New York, where he started his career as a street fighter. He fought for survival and to cope with the hardships he encountered in his early life.
After finding Christianity, he turned his skills towards a career as a professional boxer where he earned the title of World Boxing Council Continental Americas Heavyweight Champion in 1999. Barrett finished his career with 35 wins — 20 by knockout — and was a 2019 inductee of the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame.
“I want to thank you for your bravery and strength,” Barrett said as he opened his presentation. “For me, its mind, body and soul. One doesn’t work without the other.”
Barrett explained how using the same principle in the H2F presentations helped him to form good habits, improve his outlook and become more focused on his fighting. He attributed good holistic health to him becoming the best version of him himself and his successes as an athlete.
“There are no excuses for not going after everything and living up to your full potential,” Barrett said. “Whenever you think you are weak, know that you are strong.”
Barrett talked extensively about visualizing and how to incorporate it into winning a fight or dealing with stressors of life and work. He demonstrated visualization by sparring with Staff Sgt. Francisco Mercado, a drill sergeant assigned to Company A.
The cadre were also introduced to yoga and breathing techniques to help reduce physical and emotional stressors.
“I want you to keep an open mind,” Sword said. “I know this isn’t for everyone, but it can help.”
Cadre members finished out the week with additional presentations, demonstration and a chance to visit the Army Health and Wellness Center to learn about additional resources available to Soldiers and their Families.
“During this week, I want each of you to reflect on how to control the noise and your habits,” Hayes said. “I want you to invest in yourself and maximize how to become the best version of yourself.”