Fort Bragg welcomed “Showtime” Shawn Porter for a visit Friday and Saturday.
Porter, ranked among the world’s best active welterweight boxers, held the International Boxing Federation’s welterweight title from 2012 to 2013 and is the current top contender for the World Boxing Council title.
On Friday, Porter attended a meet-and-greet at Sports USA., toured the 3rd Military Information Support Battalion’s 1st Lt. Michal A. Merkel Special Operations Forces Media Operations Complex and visited the Boxing Club at the XVIII Airborne Corps Combatives School. On Sunday, Porter spent time with fans at Sports USA’s Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night.
Porter, who became a father just 11 days earlier, came to meet the troops and visit a soon-to-deploy friend, Maj. Boyd Melson, U.S. Army Reserves.
Melson, who recently withdrew from the mid-term congressional race as a candidate for New York Congressional District 11, is slated for an upcoming deployment to Iraq.
A fellow Soldier contacted Melson to ask if he would trade places with her on an upcoming deployment, so she might pursue an opportunity that would benefit her and her Family.
“I always preach about the idea you have to make sure your decisions are in line with what your heart beats … I believe in helping where you can,” said Melson.
Melson likened his need to deploy with a quote from the final Rocky film.
“I got stuff in the basement,” said Melson.
Melson’s desire to deploy connects with that metaphorical “stuff in the basement,” pent-up and awaiting expression.
“Well that’s what it has been, sitting there, and especially the idea of running for office and not having done this while still being an officer. We have been at war the entire time I have been serving and I haven’t deployed,” said Melson.
Melson is a World Military Boxing Champion, has won the All Army Boxing Championship four times, the Armed Forces Boxing Championships three times and qualified for Team U.S.A. multiple years.
Porter and Melson met while competing as amateurs.
“We are all like a Family,” said Melson.
“He (Melson) is like a brother to me, to my Family. I don't know; this is his first time being deployed … something just struck me, and I said ‘go see Boyd before he leaves,’” said Porter.
Porter had not heard of Fort Bragg when he and Melson began to organize the visit, but halfway through his visit on Friday, he was very impressed with those he had met and what he had seen.
“From the moment that we drove in to now, it is just an eye-opening experience … maybe the prestige that Fort Bragg has, that’s what got me,” said Porter.
Porter had two critical pieces of motivational advice for the Soldiers at Fort Bragg.
“Stay ready so you don't have to get ready, and that is something that my dad has taught me,” said Porter.
“I would tell all these guys out here I haven’t seen, the women too … you give it your all. You will be happy with the outcome, win, lose or draw, and, you know, you will be happy in life,” recommended Porter.