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Devil Raider grapples in first professional fight

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Anyone could see he was a fighter from the moment he sat down. His cauliflower ears bulging and thick from years of fighting. From his early teens, through college, and now the Air Force, he continues to do what he loves – fighting.

Fresh off his first professional fight, Senior Airman Griffin Broyles, 621st Contingency Response Squadron command support staff specialist, has been fighting most of his life.

Born and raised in Morristown, Tennessee, Broyles began wrestling at the age of 11. His direct mannerism conveys a no-nonsense attitude, something he says was instilled in him at an early age.

"My coach always used to say, 'Always speak and do in absolutes. No ifs, ands, or maybes!'" Broyles said.

Combat sports have essentially been Broyles' life ever since he started wrestling. He's never been good at or even interested in team sports, he said.

"I've always preferred to have everything in my own hands," Broyles said. "It takes out the possibility of blaming someone else for my losses and makes me hold myself accountable in training."

Broyles started practicing jujitsu in high school and took up wrestling at Middle Tennessee State University. He competed in the National Duals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a member of the 2015 National Team, where he spent two seasons there wrestling.

Still passionate about fighting, he enlisted in the Air Force in 2018 to continue fighting for his country.

Shortly after arriving at his first duty station at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Broyles began working as a personnel specialist for the 87th Force Support Squadron military personnel flight.

After serving two years there, he was assigned to the 621st CRS CSS, serving as a liaison between the MPF and members assigned to the 621st CRS. From the start, he was recognized for his dynamic personality.

"Senior Airman Broyles is a self-starter that takes the initiative and volunteers to get the job done even if he's unfamiliar with the task," said Capt. Sydney Crawford, 621st CRS executive officer. "He's easy to work with and extremely coachable."

He joined a local gym, practicing mixed martial arts. When that gym shut down, he and his teammates transferred to a different gym in Pennsylvania.

While there, some guys he had trained with, impressed by his ability, encouraged him to apply himself professionally.

He did. Not much later, Broyles got a call about his first professional fight against a very skilled opponent named Paul Capaldo. A week and a half before the fight, Calpaldo, unfortunately, hurt his knee, and Broyles was matched up against Zak Elfernani.

"He's a leg lock specialist, so it wasn't a good match up for me, because I'm a wrestler, but I took it anyway," Broyles said.

Broyles took the fight on a two-and-a-half-week notice and had to shave 20 pounds to take the fight.

"The weight cut leading up to my match was one of the hardest things I've ever done," Broyles said.

Broyles started his weight cut at 176 pounds on October 11, and by October 28 had made weight at 155 pounds.

"I was really serious about my diet and trained hard every single day, most of the time, twice a day," Broyles said.

He notes setting a good example for his son Gabe and seizing the moment for motivating him to continue.

"At the end of the day, he was what pushed me to make the weight," Broyles said. "When opportunity comes knocking, you open the door every time."

Broyles dominated most of the fight with Zak Elfernani until one mistake cost him the match, he said.

"I was trying to pass his guard and felt I had a little space to stand up, but that little bit of space is exactly what he needed," Broyles said. "He was able to get my leg, and when I tried to defend, he had already passed over. It was a wrap."

Even though he lost, Broyles and promoters are happy with his performance. He looks forward to making a comeback soon.

"Hopefully, I get in after the first of the year," Broyles said. "They already said they are interested in having me back."