Eric was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He played football for Spring Woods High School, and had a love of boxing. Upon graduating high school in 2003, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent thirteen weeks training in Platoon 1010 - 1st Recruit Training Battalion, and went directly to The School Of Infantry in Camp Pendleton, California. From there, he reported to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines in 29 Palms, California in January 2004.
Eric’s first deployment to Iraq was the following month. He and his battalion spent seven months there as part of Operation Ripper Sweep, where they barriered off insurgents imbedded in the city of Fallujah in preparation for invasion later that year. Eric and his fellow Marines spent much of this deployment patrolling the border between I.raq and Syria, and he was promoted to Lance Corporal while in this combat zone.
Only six months back from battle, his battalion received orders for their second deployment back to Iraq in July 2005. Insurgency there was increasing, and he landed in the dangerous Al-Anbar province of Iraq. Eric was promoted to Corporal during this deployment, making him a Non Commissioned Officer.
During a voluntary third deployment to Iraq in 2007, Eric and several of the Marines he led were guarding a bridge when a suicide bomber drove a truck with over 3,000 pounds of explosives beneath them. Eric lost his right leg above the knee and shattered his wrist. After months of rehabilitation and struggles with depression, he tapped back into his passion for boxing and began training and competing. He became the first Marine amputee to compete in amateur boxing, and he continues to compete in the National Amputee Boxing Association where he has held the title of featherweight boxing champion for four years straight. His dream is to make boxing a paralympic sport by the year 2020. Eric the “Iron Fist” Morante continues to use his boxing as an avenue to motivate and inspire other Veterans. He enjoys speaking at events geared towards helping children with special needs and disabilities, and his efforts in outreach make him an all-around perfect candidate for this year’s build.
Sgt. Eric Morante was presented The Purple Heart by former President George W. Bush for wounds received during battle, and retired medically from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010.