Airman fights toward dream

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: Before participating in any high-risk activity, Airmen must consult their chain of command and have an approved AF 4391, high-risk activities worksheet, on record.)

He walks down the hall, toward the light and into the arena. The lights are bright and the fans are loud. When he removes his headphones, he distinctly hears the sound of his mother cheering for him.

Retreating to his corner in the ring, he gazes at his opponent and doesn't speak. He's filled with anticipation as he waits for the bell to ding.

Upon first glance, Airman 1st Class Justin Krantz may appear to be your normal 99th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems apprentice, but it's no secret to his shop or friends that he's a boxer as well.

"I started martial arts fighting when I was four," said Krantz. "At about eight or nine years old my dad opened a boxing gym and I switched over and excelled from that point."

Krantz' father was his coach and older brother, Derrick Krantz, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, was his benchmark for success

"I looked up to my older brother," said Krantz. "When I started out he was an amateur MMA fighter. He was good at it and I wanted to try it, but I ended up going another way."

Krantz has gone to numerous tournaments and participated in about 50 amateur fights. He was the 2014 Texas Golden Gloves runner up and took seventh in the nation in the 2010 Junior Golden Gloves.

"I want to be a professional one day," Krantz said. "I want to one day go to the Olympics through the Air Force boxing team."

Krantz wasn't always set on joining the Air Force. He originally intended to go to college for electrical systems, but after talking with the head coach of the Air Force boxing team, he was convinced to enlist to chase his dream.

"In my opinion, he's one of the best boxers out there," said Senior Airman Alvin De Leon, 99th CES electrical systems journeyman. "I helped route his paperwork to get his high-risk activity waiver signed by the commander."

Krantz isn't just a beast in the ring, De Leon said he sets himself apart from his peers by going above and beyond what is asked of him.

"He's stellar, top-notch and the best among his peers," said De Leon. "He always asks what he can do to get better. He's got initiative and doesn't wait for you to tell him what to do. I believe that he will fight for the Air Force one day. Anything he needs, I'll be there for him."