As graduation day approached during his senior year of high school, Steve Cunningham realized he needed a plan.
College was not an option and a hoped for acceptance to art school did not materialize. Cunningham was all too aware that if he didn't do something, the streets could soon come calling.
A solution to his predicament arrived at school one day in the form of a Navy recruiter. Cunningham decided to meet with the recruiter. When told that life in the Navy would bring a steady paycheck, worldwide travel, and the opportunity to meet beautiful women in various ports of call, he signed on the dotted line.
Navy life also provided Cunningham with the opportunity to begin his amateur boxing career as a member of the Navy boxing team.
Cunningham logged many miles at sea in the Navy and many more as a professional boxer fighting all over the world.
On Thursday he took a break from final preparations for his bout Saturday against Tyson Fury at the Theater at Madison Square Garden to visit Army base Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
On base Cunningham met with Navy Commander Jose G. Hernandez and Army Command Sergeant Major Hector A. Prince.
The fighter and the two military officers conversed easily as their shared bond of service for their country created familiar and friendly talk.
After swapping stories about basic training and life in the Armed Forces, Cunningham presented the two Commanders with U.S.S. Cunningham scarves, a popular item among his fans around the world. The Army had something to give Cunningham in return, as Sergeant Major Prince then presented Cunningham with the Army Coin of Excellence, acknowledging his successful career achievements and his being an outstanding role model throughout the world.
Although from a different branch of the Armed Forces, Sergeant Major Prince stated, "we are all proud of you Steve. You are representing your country and the U.S. Military in an exemplary fashion. Even though I'm in the Army and there is competition among the various service branches, it is still one team, one fight."
After the meeting concluded the proud Cunningham shared his thoughts on the one team, one fight concept. "It goes to show you that brotherhood exists in the ranks as it should throughout the nation. The recent tragedy in Boston is an attack on Americans. It may have been one city, but it is still an attack on all of us. We are going to stand together, support one another, love one another, and be there for each other. We are all in this together."
"Heavyweights Return to the Mecca" Saturday April 20th at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. First bout 1:15pm, televised broadcast at 4:00pm on NBC. Tickets priced at $50 and up are available through Ticketmaster and at the Madison Square Garden box office.
Photo by Jason Costa