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Dustin Senger, Area Support Group Qatar Public Affairs Office
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar –
“Billy Blanks really cares for the troops,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Antonio Whitfield, from Statesboro, Ga., after meeting the fitness legend at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, Feb. 16. Blanks continues to devote a great deal of time supporting U.S. troops overseas, teaching Tae Bo and self-motivation techniques during his tours.
“I always do Tae Bo with my unit,” said Whitfield. “This is a great opportunity for all of us. As Soldiers, physical fitness is something we think about day to day. We’ve been here for 15 months and this certainly helps improve espirit de corps and boost morale.”
Blanks’ extraordinary achievements as a world karate champion, actor, author, motivator, philanthropist and humanitarian led to appearances supporting the Armed Forces in Korea, Japan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sarajevo, Greece, Africa, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Qatar.
“Billy Blanks is an inspiration – a great athlete and a great Christian,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Rogelio Carrizales, from Richmond, Texas. “He has a championship fight coming up, yet he is taking time out from training to come see us. I took the opportunity to ask him about improving my inside game.” Carrizales has trained in mixed martial arts since he was five years old, with a focus on boxing. He intends to take part in Blanks’ Tae Bo class tonight, as well as get some one-on-one kick boxing techniques afterward.
“He shows a lot of respect for the troops too,” said Carrizales. “He always stands up to shake hands and takes his time when signing autographs”
“Unfortunately, I cannot go to his Tae Bo class tonight,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Harmon, from West Columbia, S.C., after meeting Blanks. “I have to get ready to head back to Iraq.” Harmon was enjoying his last day participating in the U.S. Central Command rest and recuperation pass program. “I had a blast in Qatar. Seeing Billy Blanks taking time to visit everyone was a bonus! It’s just wonderful. He’s a legend who started a major athletic phenomenon.”