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thedrifter
02-11-09, 08:13 AM
A fighter – in the ring & out
By MikeMelanson
Tue Feb 10, 2009, 05:41 PM EST

Hanson -

Mark DeLuca Jr. is a fighter in the ring and on the battlefield.

“Boxing helps me out with the Marines and the Marines helps me out with boxing,” said DeLuca, 20, of Whitman.

Known in the squared circle as “The Italian Bazooka,” DeLuca returned home last week after graduating from the Marines Corps Boot Camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.

On Saturday, hundreds of family members, friends and celebrity boxers gathered at Joe Angelo's Cafe & Deli in Brockton to welcome DeLuca home and raise money for the South Shore Police Athletic League (PAL) boxing gym at 356 South Ave., Whitman, where DeLuca and friends train youngsters.

Denis Marrese, a boxing promoter who put on Saturday's celebration, said DeLuca trains as hard as the greats.

Four former world champions - Riddick Bowe, Vito Antuofermo, Tony DeMarco and Missy Fiorentino - each praised DeLuca Saturday.

“He'll be the next middleweight champion of the world with his work ethic,” Marrese said. “He's a tough kid. He's probably the toughest kid in the world.

“…God bless the kid We want our thoughts and prayers to be with him.”

For three months, DeLuca, a Whitman-Hanson Regional High School alumnus, trained hard with running, marching, hiking, push-ups, sit-ups, crawling, jumping and all things combat related.

This week, he heads to infantry school in North Carolina, where he will spend the next two months learning his job.

DeLuca said he is looking forward to being deployed to Afghanistan, where al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents are causing problems.

“I'm wicked excited,” he said. “I want to get over there as soon as possible. That's the number one reason I joined the Marines, to help out and do my part for the United States.”

As a youth coach, DeLuca said he tries to get his kids to be good kids and give 100 percent.

“Boxing is not a sport; it's a lifestyle. You have to eat, sleep and breathe boxing if you want to get good at it,” he said.

In the fight game, DeLuca boasts a 6-0 professional record, with four knockouts, and a 34-6 amateur record, winning a number of national titles.

DeLuca, who started boxing at age 3, hails from a family of boxers. His father, Duxbury Police Chief Mark DeLuca Sr., was a boxer, and so was his grandfather and all of his uncles. His brother and sisters also are boxers.

Goody Petronelli, who with brother Pat Petronelli trained former middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler of Brockton, also said DeLuca is a potential world champion.

“He's got a good future in boxing. I think we'll hear more from him,” he said.

Petronelli, a retired US Navy master chief, boxed on the US Marines team in Quantico, Va., and coached the Navy and Marines boxing team at the Naval Air Station in Michigan.

“If you have a chin, if you have a heart, then a trainer can teach you how to fight,” he said.

Training starts with conditioning, a lot of road work and running. Then boxers learn how to throw punches, working on large and small bags, and sparring, said Petronelli.

“Then it's a matter of how bad you want it. You're a fighter,” he said.

Calling boxing “a mental chess game,” Anthony O'Brien, a former US Navy Seal who is also an amateur boxer, said DeLuca personifies physical and mental toughness.

“What boxing and the military have in common is discipline,” O'Brien said. “You have to be mentally and physically tough to fight in the ring and on the battlefield.”

Ellie