To the uninitiated, boxing is tantamount to sanctioned violence.
Few think about the years of training and the mental toughness required to voluntarily engage with an opponent whose sole intent is to punch you as hard and as often as they can until they knock you out.
So popular is the art of boxing that it has expanded to include kickboxing, muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, savate and other like sports. Some might say these relatively new hybrid sports actually overshadow traditional boxing.
In heaping praise on combat sports, our intent is not to provoke bouts of bare-knuckle fighting in the streets.
We point to the fitness aspects of the disciplines and how, over time, they have become open and accepting of all practitioners, including women and children.
Come with us now as we scour the gyms, dojos and fitness clubs in and around Belfast to bring you the very best boxing lessons our city has to offer.
MMA With SBG
Far from opting for brevity in using these initials, we mean to introduce you to two very important acronyms in the world of competitive fighting.
The second collection of initials stands for Straight Blast Gym, where there are many ‘arts’ classes to be had. We’ll talk more about them in just a moment.
The first set stands for mixed martial arts, a combat sport that has been around, in one form or another, since antiquity.
The ancient Greeks called their mixed martial artists pankratiasts.
The rules for those matches permitted everything save for biting and gouging, and the bout ended when one fighter either held up his index finger as a sign of submission or he simply could not continue fighting.
Evidence shows that similar mixed combat sports also thrilled the Ancient Egyptians, the Romans, and it even wowed crowds in India and Japan.
The discipline's resurgence came in 1951, an event that pitted Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura with Argentinian Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Still, it wasn’t until a quarter of a century later, when the world-famous boxer Muhammad Ali, at the peak of his career, faced off against Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in Japan that the most modern incarnation of mixed martial arts was born.
For all of its popularity back then, such events did not come into mainstream sports arenas until a little over 26 years ago.
And then, the whole world wanted a piece of the action.
These days, you can find mixed martial arts classes for men, women and children. The best training facility in all of Belfast would arguably be the aforementioned SBG.
Straight Blast wanted to create an environment where fighting ‘best practices’ could be outlined and an organisation that would uphold them.
A little over 20 years after their inception, they have not just met but exceeded their goal.
SBG now trains fighters in around the world. They are considered the global leader in functional martial arts as well as self-defence.
Don’t you want your whole family to train there?
Their youth program starts with fighters as young as four (called Cheeky Monkeys!) and progresses into Growling Gorillas who ultimately become Teens MMA.
These names are a reflection of their mascot, not what they think of children.
Do gyms in Liverpool do as much for their young boxers?
They leave no one out! Their female MMA classes are remarkable both for their energetic routines and their loyal following.
You mustn’t assume that everyone who trains as a mixed martial artist will one day enter the octagon and fight in front of a rabid audience.
MMA is a way of life, a way to maintain optimal physical fitness and continue to challenge your boundaries.
When you put it that way, it is no wonder that people in Birmingham also seek MMA fitness...
Kickboxing at the Home of Champions
Kickboxing got its start in Japan in the late 1950s. It is considered a hybrid martial art that incorporates elements of various traditional styles of fighting, including boxing.
Kick boxing combines kicking and punching to make for an energetic sport that millions around the world now practise as a total body workout. Few practitioners have any intention of competing.
In fact, so popular has this sport become that it has mutated into targeted workouts with specific purposes.
Cardio kickboxing will work your heart while Thai kickboxing, also known as Muay Thai, that originated as a form of weaponless hand to hand combat conditions your entire body.
Mancunians love Muay Thai; find out where they go to practise and compete...
Prokick is Belfast’s premier kickboxing facility. They contend that, if the most you’re looking for is a great workout, you have set the bar way too low.
Prokick regularly launches kickboxing courses for different levels – beginners and more advanced. They also conduct fitness boot camps for anyone who needs a jumpstart on their fitness training.
Besides those classes, you will find:
- sparring classes for kids and adults (not sparring together, of course)
- circuit classes: the perfect balance between strength training and endurance building
- Yellow Belts: a no-contact class that follows the Advanced Beginners’ course
- Orange Belts: contact only with the heavy bag and focus pads
With this kind of training and development, it’s no wonder Glaswegians also seek out kickboxing classes!
Prokick has a very generous class schedule and they are just waiting for you to realise your fitness ambitions. What are you waiting for?
Did you know that Cardiff also has well-attended kickboxing classes?
Join the Fighters at Sloan’s Gym
Located on Chapel Lane in the heart of the city, Sloan’s has a fitness program for everyone.
This family-run business boasts a gym packed full of exercise equipment, but that’s just the start of things.
From their high-intensity workouts to their healing yoga sessions, they are prepared to help you meet your every fitness goal and then some.
While personal training and getting fit are all great, we’re really interested in their boxing classes.
How do fitness classes in Nottingham compare? We went and found out all about them...
These are not boxing lessons in the traditional sense but a fitness regimen that blends elements of boxing with circuit training.
With enticing names like ‘ground and pound’ or ‘box and push’, you might wonder what kind of workout this would be.
Attending such a session will answer all of those questions for you but you’d better beware: this is a punishing routine that will leave you in agony... unless you are in peak physical condition.
You could get that way by first putting all of their fine exercise equipment to work.
Do Loiners love getting fit? Find out in our Boxing in Leeds article...
Boxing in Belfast
Now that we’ve covered all manner of sports related to boxing - if only tenuously, let’s get to the meat of the matter.
Belfast and boxing have enjoyed a longstanding love affair; the truth is, boxing is good for Belfast and her citizens.
Boxing is a great way to relieve stress and discover strengths you didn’t know you had. It can help you build self-confidence and, quite frankly, get you in the best shape you’ve ever been.
The art of boxing is suitable for men, women and children of all ages – well, at least those old enough to have a measure of control over their muscles.
To that end, the Belfast City Council has endorsed the sport and has even created a means of making boxing accessible to everyone.
How does London compare in their boxing promotion strategies?
From their page, you can find a boxing club close to you, learn which age groups it trains and what type of boxing they will train you for.
You can find clubs for other sports too, such as ice hockey, weightlifting and even taekwondo.
They also work in conjunction with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, which arranges events and helps coordinate fighter training.
Nowhere else in the UK will you find such a team dedicated to promoting the sportsmanship of boxing.
In spite of our city’s historic reputation and all thoughts of The Troubles aside, boxing is as good for Belfast as making a personal commitment to fitness and health is good for individuals.
Isn’t it great that the two dovetail so nicely?
Young or old, male or female: the city of Belfast makes boxing and related combat sports available to all and your Superprof has just handed you a roadmap to the best boxing classes to be had in our city, so grab your boxing gloves and get moving!
Headed to Edinburgh any time soon? No need to interrupt your workout; find the best boxing classes in that city!