By aragorn546 9 Comments
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.
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/