The mainstream TV audience generally thinks of boxing as merely a full- contact sport that involves hurting each other. It is indeed true. Legendary trainer Freddie Roach describes boxing as “it ain’t easy” which happens to be the slogan of his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, CA. The fight game is a tough sport. However, most people don’t see beyond what they witness on TV, and thus don’t realize what goes on before the big night.
What exactly goes on before the fight night? In this article, allow me to discuss these factors: Physical, Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual and Financial/ Contractual. Score an A on all of these; the fighter will be invincible.
PHYSICAL: In my opinion and I don’t mean to be biased, boxers are the best conditioned athletes in the world. Sure other sports are hard to a certain degree but a boxer punishes himself in training for more punishment in the ring. When somebody is trying to hurt you, you better be prepared for it in training. Work on every facet of the game that can make you win. Boxing has the most intense training and the prefight diet makes it worse. Boxers are the most disciplined eaters while in training. Making the weight can be hard when you exert a lot of effort in camp and you have to lose weight rapidly. You get really hungry and cranky!
EMOTIONAL: Fighters usually go to a training camp for 6-8 weeks prior to a big fight. This means that for this period, they will be away from their families. Not only that, they will be in seclusion where in what they think about nothing but boxing. Being away from loved ones gives the boxer the chance to focus on the fight. Although only 2-5 hours is devoted to training, the rest of the day is devoted to rest. Rest time gives the boxer the time to think. Loneliness becomes their friend.
PSYCHOLOGICAL: “You don’t send a soldier to battle without preparation”. Boxing is a game of strategy. It involves a lot of thinking. When the game plan is mapped out in training, it is the boxer’s responsibility to put his mind into the game. Peak conditioning will not work if the mind is not ready. The mental game is a lot more challenging than the physical game. It takes a lot of mental toughness to win fights or even to train for fights. A boxer should develop the killer instinct. It sounds brutal but you have to go for the kill in the fight itself so a fighter better prepare for that in training.
SPIRITUAL: Training time is “soul searching” for some fighters. For the religious ones, it is a time for prayer. Not necessarily praying to win, but praying for strength, conditioning and guidance— this is the fighter’s prayer. For the spiritual ones, it is essential to have spiritual training to calm down the body and mind. This includes yoga, Zen meditation or Tai Chi. When a boxer gets knocked down, or if he is being attacked, this calmness will help him regroup.
FINANCIAL/ CONTRACTUAL: A lot of honor and pride is at stake in this sport, and a lot of money too. Boxing is business. There is a pressure on the boxer to perform well because one bad fight can cost him better paydays in the future. The better you perform, the more people will watch you. More fans means more revenue— pay per view sales, advertisements, promotional contracts, managerial contracts, gate sales etc. Boxing has a lot of politics too and that makes it dirty. Often times, the fighter gets in the mess of things and that can affect ones pre- fight preparation.
One good thing that happened since I started training private citizens in boxing is that my clients have realized how hard it is to train in the sport. One round of mitt work is tough enough and they realize that 12 rounds of championship boxing are way way tougher. The fight itself is tough with the opponent after your head. That makes the sport fair! My clients have realized that boxing is no joke, and boxers deserve admiration and respect for what they do.
Though I am insignificant, in my own little way I would like to give boxing the credit its due. Respect for the boxer is what I aim. “It ain’t easy”. Whatever your goals are, success is absolutely sweeter if you sacrificed a lot for it, right? Boxing has taught a lot of people about sacrifice and that includes me. I urge the curious or the adventurous to give boxing a shot for you to experience what I mean. It involves a lot of hardwork, perseverance and courage— and the sense of accomplishment is “SWEET”!