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Knock out opposition through perseverance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Malia Jenkins
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Since his childhood, one Minot Airman has learned to be strong, work hard for what he wants, the perseverance to push through adversity and the determination to keep going.

Senior Airman Tavarus Roberts, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron fire team leader, gathered his life experiences and determination to one day travel the road of becoming a champion in the world of boxing.

"I wasn't brought up the best, coming from an abusive father, but he helped me become stronger," Roberts said. "I didn't like it then, but it did help me to become a strong person."

His third grade teacher, Mrs. Christian, gave him words of motivation and encouragement, which he still applies to this day, "walk with your head high, shoulders back."

Growing up in an abusive household, Roberts had his fair share of rainy days, he recalled. He watched his mother work three jobs to provide for her four children and still have the strength to attend all their school functions.

"My mommy is my backbone and biggest supporter," Roberts said. "Everything I do is for her. She's the reason why I keep pushing."

Now that he's older, when he talks to his mother she says she doesn't know how she did it, he said. She did whatever she could to make sure her children didn't feel poor, beneath anybody or less than other kids in their neighborhood.

Although Roberts had hard times with his father, they have moved on from the past and have worked through former issues of physical and verbal abuse with constant communication, discussing how previous events made them feel and his father showing he cared. Today they have developed a great relationship.

"Despite the hard times, my dad taught me not to fear anyone, which I apply in the ring today," Roberts said. "Even through hard times there's always something to be learned. With a rekindled relationship, I love my dad and I wouldn't change anything."

A little later in his life, Roberts channeled the strength and perseverance he learned from his mother into being a champion. Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were some of the actors and movies he watched as a child, which influenced him into becoming a part of the fighting world.

He began his fighting career studying karate and showed promise in the sport, ranking third in his city by the age of 11.

"I was pretty good for being a red belt," he said. "I stopped in seventh grade and started running track, and I didn't fight anymore until I started boxing."

After more than a decade, he picked up his old habit at his first duty station, Minot Air Force Base.

Before coming to Minot, he heard about a gym that offered mixed martial arts and boxing. He decided to go to the gym, where he fell in love with the sport once again, he said.

In the beginning, Roberts was only interested in mixed martial arts. After skinning his knees grappling, he decided to work on his stand up, where the focus is on hand-to-hand combat, which led him to work toward being a member of the Air Force boxing team.

"I thought boxing was just throwing punches, brawling and throwing whatever comes to mind," he explained. "It was actually a technique and skill you have to perfect in order to do it properly. I witnessed how hard it was."

That's when he turned away from mixed martial arts and started boxing, he added. The embers began to burn and breathe life into his heart for what he compares to a game of chess.

With the support of his leadership, fellow Airmen, supervision and the determination to prove those who doubted him wrong, he became the North Dakota State Golden Glove Champion in 2012, and tried out and made the Air Force boxing team in 2013.

Staff Sgt. William Smith, who was Roberts' supervisor and one of his biggest supporters, believed in him so much, he worked in his place twice so he could try out for the Air Force team.

"Sergeant Smith use to always say he's just a piece of the puzzle, and all those who support me are a piece of my puzzle," Roberts said. "They are making my masterpiece. Whether it's leadership, the supporters or people who just like me, they all are a piece of the puzzle. They make me who I am today."

Roberts said he trains to be the best because he doesn't want to disappoint those who have pushed so hard for him to be where he is today.

"I don't want their efforts to be in vain, so I'm going to train like there is no tomorrow," he added. "Nothing worth having comes easy."

Roberts has not only accomplished a lot in his two years of boxing, but has already earned an Associate's Degree in science and a Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology.

He dreams of completing his Community College of the Air Force Associate's degree and is pursuing a Master's Degree in finance, marketing or business.

Although the cards have not always been stacked in his favor, Roberts continues to strive for the best and reach his academic and athletic goals.

"You can overcome anything and be anything you want to be, even if you come from a rough background," he said. "You can still excel and beat the odds. Never let anyone or anything hold you back."