Boxing Blog #3: Sparring


First thing's first, it has been about three months since I have updated this blog. Sorry to anyone (hi mom) who have been reading this and hoped to continue to do so with regularity. I have no real excuse and despise immensely those who make a habit of using them, so let's just get to the work, shall we? 
 
In the intervening time, however, quite a bit has been happening. While I'm not keeping to my exercise schedule as closely as I would like, I have dropped from 240 down to 233, with the trend looking to continue steadily until I hit about 210 or 200. Now, this may seem a little counterintuitive to most of the casual boxing fans out there. After all haven't most of us grown up watching the great heavyweights like Tyson, Spinks and Holmes, great big hulking men that could seemingly decapitate an opponent with a well placed right?  What many don't realize is that boxing is at least 85% about stamina.  
 
This is a problem for me. You see, I used to have pretty good stamina. Most of my teens and into my twenties I was athletic, a baseball player, and walked just about anywhere, so while I was gaining weight in little spurts I was still very fit. In 2004 I then started working in my first real office job. Within a month of working as  a graphic designer, sitting on my ever softening behind for 8+ hours a day, I gained roughly 45 pounds and kept them. To make matters worse, it was all in my stomach instead of distributing evenly. This causes strain on your entire upper body as the weight pulls down on your back and shoulders, creating a ton of stress on your lungs, not to mention the impact on your legs and knees. 
 
There are many stamina building exercises, but there are two that are considered the holy gospel of boxing: running and sparring. 
Sparring is when two boxers strap on heavy gloves, leather headgear and basically have a practice fight. Now that might not sound so bad, even less so when I mention that amateur boxing last only three rounds at two minutes each, but unless you've actually stepped in the ring it can be difficult to explain how it feels. To get an idea you could  step around your room, moving constantly for two minutes. While doing this remember to keep your hands at about eye height, occasionally throwing out a quick left jab, remembering to keep those hands up. To top it off, have a friend hold a pillow to the side of your head while he hits it as hard as possible.  Actually, please don't do that last bit. 
 
The point being, boxing is not as simple as it looks. You have to constantly make sure you have the right balance and footing, control your breathing and heart rate while trying to string together punch combinations. All of this while also under fire from your opponent. Sparring not only gets that all important physical stamina to build, it is the first real mental test of a boxer.  
 
"I get guys in here that have twenty times the talent you do," my trainer, Chris, was telling me one day, "but they won't get in the ring with another guy. Or if they do, they fall apart after getting hit for the first few times. Some guys just can't do it." 
 
That's why, despite my poor stamina and fairly limited experience, my trainer works hard with me. Despite getting hit with some solid shots, despite feeling like my lungs will drop out of my ass during the third round, despite the pounding headaches afterwards, I always come at my opponent. I keep the pressure on the other guy, weather the storm and be an all around tough son of a bitch in order to get my hits in. Chris loves this and is working with me to make me a bit more agile, because stamina is something you can work at, technique is something you can learn but strength in the face of adversity is something a boxer has or doesn't no matter how hard he works. 
 
Next time we're going to talk a bit more in detail about specifics from my sparring matches: what I've learned, mistakes I've made and maybe even a few anecdotes. 
 
Till next time, work the body. 
 
PAST ARTICLES 
Boxing Blog #2:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-2-the-ny-daily-news-golden-gloves/30-46642/ 
Boxing Blog #1:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-1/30-46438/ 
Boxing Blog #0:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-0-prologue/30-46064/
10 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by aragorn546

First thing's first, it has been about three months since I have updated this blog. Sorry to anyone (hi mom) who have been reading this and hoped to continue to do so with regularity. I have no real excuse and despise immensely those who make a habit of using them, so let's just get to the work, shall we? 
 
In the intervening time, however, quite a bit has been happening. While I'm not keeping to my exercise schedule as closely as I would like, I have dropped from 240 down to 233, with the trend looking to continue steadily until I hit about 210 or 200. Now, this may seem a little counterintuitive to most of the casual boxing fans out there. After all haven't most of us grown up watching the great heavyweights like Tyson, Spinks and Holmes, great big hulking men that could seemingly decapitate an opponent with a well placed right?  What many don't realize is that boxing is at least 85% about stamina.  
 
This is a problem for me. You see, I used to have pretty good stamina. Most of my teens and into my twenties I was athletic, a baseball player, and walked just about anywhere, so while I was gaining weight in little spurts I was still very fit. In 2004 I then started working in my first real office job. Within a month of working as  a graphic designer, sitting on my ever softening behind for 8+ hours a day, I gained roughly 45 pounds and kept them. To make matters worse, it was all in my stomach instead of distributing evenly. This causes strain on your entire upper body as the weight pulls down on your back and shoulders, creating a ton of stress on your lungs, not to mention the impact on your legs and knees. 
 
There are many stamina building exercises, but there are two that are considered the holy gospel of boxing: running and sparring. 
Sparring is when two boxers strap on heavy gloves, leather headgear and basically have a practice fight. Now that might not sound so bad, even less so when I mention that amateur boxing last only three rounds at two minutes each, but unless you've actually stepped in the ring it can be difficult to explain how it feels. To get an idea you could  step around your room, moving constantly for two minutes. While doing this remember to keep your hands at about eye height, occasionally throwing out a quick left jab, remembering to keep those hands up. To top it off, have a friend hold a pillow to the side of your head while he hits it as hard as possible.  Actually, please don't do that last bit. 
 
The point being, boxing is not as simple as it looks. You have to constantly make sure you have the right balance and footing, control your breathing and heart rate while trying to string together punch combinations. All of this while also under fire from your opponent. Sparring not only gets that all important physical stamina to build, it is the first real mental test of a boxer.  
 
"I get guys in here that have twenty times the talent you do," my trainer, Chris, was telling me one day, "but they won't get in the ring with another guy. Or if they do, they fall apart after getting hit for the first few times. Some guys just can't do it." 
 
That's why, despite my poor stamina and fairly limited experience, my trainer works hard with me. Despite getting hit with some solid shots, despite feeling like my lungs will drop out of my ass during the third round, despite the pounding headaches afterwards, I always come at my opponent. I keep the pressure on the other guy, weather the storm and be an all around tough son of a bitch in order to get my hits in. Chris loves this and is working with me to make me a bit more agile, because stamina is something you can work at, technique is something you can learn but strength in the face of adversity is something a boxer has or doesn't no matter how hard he works. 
 
Next time we're going to talk a bit more in detail about specifics from my sparring matches: what I've learned, mistakes I've made and maybe even a few anecdotes. 
 
Till next time, work the body. 
 
PAST ARTICLES 
Boxing Blog #2:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-2-the-ny-daily-news-golden-gloves/30-46642/ 
Boxing Blog #1:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-1/30-46438/ 
Boxing Blog #0:  http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/aragorn546/boxing-blog-0-prologue/30-46064/
Posted by HS21

Great read. Good to know that you've got a proper good trainer like that bloke Chris giving you the training you that you sound like you deserve. Me trainer Toby, he's a bit of a character but he tries with me as well, and he's patient. His methods are kinda funny/odd though, so I was wondering, does Chris use any training exercises that you've never heard of before or that seem strange and unusual? Just want to get another boxer's opinion on unconventional training because my coach Toby is a real hard ass. 

Edited by HitmanAgent47

I take krav maga and i'm going to cross train in MMA in august. I mean I spar all the time, yet I know boxers can hit hard. It's just too bad you don't do alot of blocking or parries in boxing, since it's all counter punching, slipping punches and taking a million punches to your torso. MMA fighters can easily just take boxers down and submit then. Besides boxing is limiting, you only get like a few certain punches yet there is a science to it. Then again that's my view, i'm only speaking for myself, I do know what it's like to spar with kicks, takedowns and submissions. I'm sure I won't want to go in the ring with just boxing without my kicks, I will feel vulnerable.

Edited by aragorn546
@HS21:
Most of the training centers around traditional sparring. We also do a fair amount of plyometrics with a focus on core strength. My old trainer from a few years back was a bit of a character (quite possibly crazy actually) but nothing in training seemed out of the ordinary. Oh, and all boxing trainers are hardasses. If they weren't, we would never do what they say!  
What types of  weird exercises do you do? Thanks for the comment!  
 
@HitmanAgent47:
I have a buddy who does Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and I'm a fan of MMA myself. I'm not one of those guys who discounts other fighting styles, I just love the traditional science behind pugilism, fighting with just hands. I'm sure you would do decently in a boxing spar, but as with any fighting style you're right, getting out of your comfort zone tends to mess you up a bit. 
 Oh, and there is a fair amount of blocking a parrying in boxing. I'm actually working on that now as I am not ever going to move like a lightweight, learning how to deflect and properly block punches on my gloves and arms is going to be crucial for me getting in those all important counter punches. Thanks for the comment!
Edited by HS21
@aragorn546: Well, from one boxer to another I don't feel weird telling you. But if it was just someone else with no interest in the sport I probably wouldn't, they would probably think the methods were strange haha. Well for starters we run during the freezing cold mornings here. The twist is that I have to run in the nude. It sounded ridiculous at first but the cold was actually quite invigorating. Then there's the whole out in public naked thing. But we mostly run in an old park so really it's just him and I during my runs. When I asked Toby about it he likened it to the activity of men jumping into the freezing cold waters in Alaska then climbing back out. It really tests you.  
 
And you're right, coach is most definitely a hard-ass but he throws in some nice encouraging words in there too sometimes. He'll say, "Good hustle", "You got a firm ass boy, don't you forget it", or "Why don't you turn around and let me soak you all in from the front". It sounds silly but he tells me when he sees a change in my naked body and getting the feedback is a pretty good motivation to keep working harder. He has some other methods, I don't know if you'd be interested in them, maybe to pass them on to your coach so you could try them out as well. Don't worry, the others are indoors but you still need to be fully naked for maximum flexibility. 
Edited by fwylo
@HS21: Can I get the number of your trainer?
Posted by Mrnitropb
@HS21 said:

" @aragorn546: Well, from one boxer to another I don't feel weird telling you. But if it was just someone else with no interest in the sport I probably wouldn't, they would probably think the methods were strange haha. Well for starters we run during the freezing cold mornings here. The twist is that I have to run in the nude. It sounded ridiculous at first but the cold was actually quite invigorating. Then there's the whole out in public naked thing. But we mostly run in an old park so really it's just him and I during my runs. When I asked Toby about it he likened it to the activity of men jumping into the freezing cold waters in Alaska then climbing back out. It really tests you.   And you're right, coach is most definitely a hard-ass but he throws in some nice encouraging words in there too sometimes. He'll say, "Good hustle", "You got a firm ass boy, don't you forget it", or "Why don't you turn around and let me soak you all in from the front". It sounds silly but he tells me when he sees a change in my naked body and getting the feedback is a pretty good motivation to keep working harder. He has some other methods, I don't know if you'd be interested in them, maybe to pass them on to your coach so you could try them out as well. Don't worry, the others are indoors but you still need to be fully naked for maximum flexibility.  " 

 

Posted by aragorn546
@HS21:
 yeah, I think I'll pass on those training methods, nothing like that with my trainer.
Posted by Atomasist
@Mrnitropb said:

" @HS21 said:

" @aragorn546: Well, from one boxer to another I don't feel weird telling you. But if it was just someone else with no interest in the sport I probably wouldn't, they would probably think the methods were strange haha. Well for starters we run during the freezing cold mornings here. The twist is that I have to run in the nude. It sounded ridiculous at first but the cold was actually quite invigorating. Then there's the whole out in public naked thing. But we mostly run in an old park so really it's just him and I during my runs. When I asked Toby about it he likened it to the activity of men jumping into the freezing cold waters in Alaska then climbing back out. It really tests you.   And you're right, coach is most definitely a hard-ass but he throws in some nice encouraging words in there too sometimes. He'll say, "Good hustle", "You got a firm ass boy, don't you forget it", or "Why don't you turn around and let me soak you all in from the front". It sounds silly but he tells me when he sees a change in my naked body and getting the feedback is a pretty good motivation to keep working harder. He has some other methods, I don't know if you'd be interested in them, maybe to pass them on to your coach so you could try them out as well. Don't worry, the others are indoors but you still need to be fully naked for maximum flexibility.  " 

 

"Yo guyz d1d u see I pusted a vid tht iz l1k3 OMG failz. Imm coolz likez datz.
Oh snap did you see what he just did?! He just posted a video that is like you just got served F00L! Yo dawg i finna be him wenz I growz up.
Edited by HS21
@aragorn546 said:

" @HS21:  yeah, I think I'll pass on those training methods, nothing like that with my trainer. "

Gotta be open minded man. Like you said, your coach said you've got heart, which is an important in boxing. Just funny how you're not even willing to give new methods a try and are instead just dismissing them outright.