Marine Infantry School Fires Top Enlisted Leader Known as 'Sergeant Major Kettlebell'

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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett, the sergeant major of School of Infantry - West, poses with his trophy after being recognized as Camp Pendleton Male Marine Athlete of the Year on Camp Pendleton, California, April 10, 2023. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Angela Wilcox)

A Marine noncommissioned officer -- known as "Sergeant Major Kettlebell" -- was relieved from his position as the top senior enlisted adviser for one of the service's two infantry schools.

Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett was fired for "loss of trust and confidence" last month by Col. Seth MacCutcheon, the Marine Corps School of Infantry-West commanding officer, according to a service spokesperson.

Burkett was removed on July 13, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Training and Education Command recently told Military.com. It was not immediately clear exactly why Burkett was relieved.

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In April, Burkett won Camp Pendleton's Male Marine Athlete of the Year competition and set a mark recognized by Guinness World Records for the most weight lifted by kettlebell swing in one hour.

He also holds the records for most weight lifted in both one minute and three minutes, according to Guinness' website. All records were recorded while he was serving in the Marine Corps.

Burkett had amassed acclaim and a following because of his record-breaking, earning him the moniker "Sergeant Major Kettlebell," which he used as the handle for his now-unavailable Instagram account.

Marine Corps Times was first to report the firing Monday. Military.com reached out to Burkett through a social media account.

"A preliminary inquiry was conducted into the matter and can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act," Maj. Joshua Pena, a spokesperson for Training and Education Command, told Marine Corps Times. The service's public records office told the publication that it would not release the inquiry, however.

Burkett appears to have been replaced by Sgt. Maj. Joseph Powers. Before taking over after Burkett's firing, Powers had been the top enlisted leader for the infantry school's headquarters and support battalion since March 2022. As of Tuesday, Powers is still listed as the headquarters and support battalion sergeant major.

The Marine Corps School of Infantry has east and west bases. The School of Infantry-West is located in Camp Pendleton, California, and trains fresh-out-of-boot-camp Marines in basic infantry skills and tactics. Riflemen, machine gunners, mortarmen and anti-tank missilemen attend the school.

Prior to his assignment at Pendleton, Burkett served as the command senior enlisted leader for Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he started the "Guantanamo Kettlebell Club," according to Marine Corps Times. He was previously in charge of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group at Quantico, Virginia.

-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at drew.lawrence@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

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