RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Capt. A.J. Bonitati, 451st Flying Training Squadron instructor combat systems officer, was named the 2011 Air Education and Training Command Athlete of the Year Nov. 21.
Bonitati is a fifth degree black belt in the ancient combat art of Tae Kwon Do.
Since his introduction to the sport in 1992, Bonitati has rose to the aforementioned "master" level last year. With no official coach, Bonitati trains himself and his son, Clayton, in his garage. This year, 11-year-old Clayton earned his first degree black belt.
Bonitati leads by example as the head coach of the Air Force Tae Kwon Do team. This year, he won first place in the All-Armed Forces Championship lightweight division, and secured a seventh place finish in the 2011 U.S. National Tae Kwon Do Championship.
"I enjoy getting in the ring and standing there with someone else one-on-one to see who the better man is that day." Bonitati said.
As any athlete is aware, the preparation for a competition is much more strenuous than the competition itself. Bonitati's athleticism and love for fitness have resulted in perfect scores on the Air Force Physical Fitness Test a remarkable six years in a row.
"I train on my own, with lots of running and weight lifting," he said.
His arduous training regimen has yielded results. Bonitati has consistently finished on the medal stand spanning more than 11 competitions since 2008 in locations as far away as Brazil and Korea.
"I feel privileged that I get to do this and my normal job as well," Bonitati said.
Bonitati's ability to combine his athleticism and leadership talents are among the many reasons for his success. As leader of his squadron's physical training program, Bonitati has administered more than 500 physical fitness tests and boasts a 98 percent pass rate.
"He proves you can succeed at your day job, but also find a balance to stay fit," said Lt. Col. Timothy Moser, 451st Flying Training Squadron commander. "Captain Bonitati is the gold standard for defining 'fit to fight.' He is a role model for the young aviators going through our program."