“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
– Mohammed Ali (1942-2016)
This quote sets the bar quite high! Your road may be long and strenuous before you reach the same heights as one of the greatest boxers of all time! But hey, he who gives nothing, gets nothing, and he who does not feed any ambition is certainly not likely to become champion of anything!
Here we are: you started learning how to box some time ago – probably several months – and you think you have enough technical and fundamental knowledge to enter the ring and face opponents in the same situation and with the same skill set as you.
Maybe your coach or your expert boxing friend has already declared you ready to enter the fire of the action – the heat of the battle – that is to say he or she has told you to get into the ring where nothing is left to chance, where you can never give in for a second!
If you are part of a boxing club (which is affiliated with a boxing federation and also has an important women’s boxing branch and gives you the opportunity to find your boxing equipment at a lower cost), you can easily find a boxer at your level and who you can fight in a legal and secure bout. Please do avoid those shots that are a part of clandestine fighting between so-called “buddies” (most serious injuries happen in this illegal and dangerous setting). Nothing beats a sports licensed match with insurance. This is the only guarantee against the most common and benign injuries. Injuries aren’t always a possibility but they could happen to you!
Like rugby, the potential towards injury is a reality, and it does not happen only to others! Now that your match is scheduled, let’s look at what your mood and regiment should be to calmly tackle this collision of skills and power. These boxing exercises will help you get on your way to a great match! Hang in!
When you start sparring in the gym and throwing punches at your shadow, a real fight can seem far from us, even if we secretly long for it and are fascinated by the thought of it.
It all starts with introductory exercises that can sometimes seem childish and boring…cardio, footwork, drills, working on your agility routine, not to mention the theoretical rules of the game and the different boxing techniques that beginners must get to grips with.
Naturally, as you approach a confrontation with another boxer, your training days will be significantly different in order to prepare you for the big show!
Learning how to defend yourself and especially how to counter is an important if not fundamental aspect of the art of boxing.
Your first and most common enemy will be overtraining: the key is to get into the ring with a full tank of energy. You need to be fresh and available. It is important to train regularly but in the two weeks preceding the fight (or at least one), never exceed one hour of boxing training per day, and make sure to rest on Sundays.
Keep the up use of your jump rope, your speed bag and punching ball. Don’t let your cardio intensity drop in the weeks running up to a fight as it is important to stay agile.
Continue your boxing classes and other combat sports to ensure you are at the top of your game.
It is often said that victory is synonymous with intelligence. If you know anything about your future opponent, take advantage of it. Exploit it. Depending on his height, for example, practice hitting higher or lower on your punching bag…
Similarly, especially if this is not your first match, have a look to see if your challenger has not previously been filmed on YouTube or Facebook. You can analyse his techniques and his secrets, preparing sequences that will unseat him and disrupt his rhythm. Watching an opponent play is a fundamental aspect of winning.
Preparing the body is the most important thing you must face before entering the ring. You will soon understand why. Don’t let it surprise you!
As you know, boxers are divided into different categories according to their weight. To have an advantage over their opponents, they must be at their best without letting it affect their endurance.
If your fight is scheduled for one category one month in advance, make sure not to put on any weight. You will not want any surprises at the weigh in!
To take no chances, sports doctors recommend that you take on a category that is 3 kg under your actual weight.
If it’s the opposite, as the date approaches, you can engage in some weightlifting to make sure you reach the category. Three days before, you could even be 500g below the threshold!
The important thing is to make sure you are ready for game day: weigh yourself the day before you leave home. If you see there is a problem, you can lose weight by drinking lots of coffee or eating prunes. Just going to the bathroom will shed excess weight. Fighting on an empty stomach is better anyway!
Whether it’s Tyson, Ali, or a no name amateur boxer in the ring, the stakes are the same. Stay sharp.
In some cases, your weight will announce exactly the opposite: for example, you are missing 2 kg. You must absolutely weight lift before the big day and gain some muscle!
Don’t try to overdo it however. There are limits to everything, so do not try the impossible! Especially when a fight is on the calendar!
You should never lose weight in such a way that you get dehydrated or you are losing muscle density.
Ideally, you should be eating well before the fight so that you have the calorie intake you need.
Motivation is an essential component to any sport. With boxing, willpower can win a fight! That was the case with Rocky.
As the battle approaches, make sure you have the desire to triumph.
It is therefore necessary to avoid aiming at a weight category which will be difficult for you to reach and would create a lot of stress. Don’t forget that sleep is essential for the body and mind.
Do not be overly greedy either: you should keep the number of fights in one season to a minimum. A dozen is too many!
If you force it, you will feel tired and no longer want to fight. The KO will be there waiting for you and you won’t even hear the referee’s counting.
To calmly tackle fighting, you have to know how to isolate yourself – take a day to yourself before the fight. Meditation and relaxation are great tools.
This will surprise no one. No seasoned fighter will walk into the ring without warming up. He needs to stretch and shadowbox in order to get ready.
This is even truer of a sport where violence is necessary to win. You should never take the risk of spraining your ankle, breaking your wrist, or tearing your hamstring for lack of a warm-up!
The warm-up should aim to prepare all of the body’s muscles and joints. Start with your head and finish at your feet.
Make sure your entire body is operational. Make sure you are not getting tired or losing energy. Do not sweat too much before getting into the actual ring.
Above all, be smart: your warm-up should end a few minutes before the fight, otherwise you will not have time to “cool down”.
You can warm up by yourself before the big bout. It’s also possible to learn and prepare to box at home.
Everything we have just listed is important to keep in mind if you are to enter a competition or take to the ring for an amateur match.
If this is your first time in the ring, you will need supervision along the way. It will be important to count on the support and advice of a private tutor.
Do not be shy. Be careful to master your worries. Be positive. Use your nerves and your fears to your benefit!
A good body and mind are crucial in any fighting sport.
As far as equipment goes, do not forget to have boxing gloves (and spare gloves), under-gloves (someone will need to wrap your hands), mouth guards, and your helmet. You are now in the ring with the amateurs, but you’re not a professional yet!
You must remember that you are not fighting your punching bag; there will be an opponent who will make and take shots in front of you.
Make sure to choose boxing shorts, socks, and shoes in which you will be comfortable.
Maybe you have good memories of former sports victories? Think about them. They can be great for your morale.
So put on your headphones, get loose and get in the ring. It’s about how you win – so keep it fun!
See why the punching bag is your friend and not your enemy here.