By Neil Perkins
Boxing and pugilism has been around since the beginning of time. The Marcus of Queensbury first brought rules to the sport that has spawned so many famous names. Boxing is as old as the earth. As boxing became main-stream and prize fighting (boxing for money) became established, blue collar kids from around the world looked to fight their way out of poverty through boxing. Jack Dempsey, Joe Fraizer and Mike Tyson are just a few that found fame and fortune through boxing.
In New York City in the 1990’s, a new breed of boxer appeared on the scene, these men and women were not fighting for fame or fortune but for other reasons – self-esteem, weight loss and the pursuit of ultimate fitness. This band of city centre workers at 5pm finished their Wall Street jobs in the city and traded in the treadmill laden fitness centres and yoga studio’s for the boxing gym. White Collar Boxing was born – boxing is the new yoga!
New York City was the birthplace of White Collar Boxing and its popularity stemmed from there. We don’t know who the first ‘suit’ was to step into the famous Gleason’s gym, but what we do no within no time that New Yorks famous boxing gyms where full of ‘fitness’ boxers who were pursuing a new way to workout. A brave few stepped one step further and the first white collar boxing bouts took place in New York. Named white collar boxing, because its participants wore a ‘white collar’ (shirt and tie) to work. Although some were brave (or stupid) enough to box, most of them just enjoyed the adrenalin high and numerous fitness/ health benefits that this sport delivers without ever getting punched in the face.
Why Boxing Training?
Muscles Worked: If you look at the mechanics of a punch, it uses your whole body. Any boxing trainer worth his salt will explain that a perfect punch is a synchronised movement and goes through the following four phases of motion. Leg extension, hip extension, core rotation and then arm extension. A single punch works your legs, core, hip and arms. Better still on impact your stabilisers in your upper back fire so in essence a punch works nearly every muscle in your body.
Energy Systems Used: A marathon runner will use his aerobic system, a sprinter will work his anaerobic system and a shot putter will work his creatine phosphate system. A boxer will tap into all of these during a workout. CrossFit gets its names that because it utilises ‘cross fitness’ of the energy systems – we do that in every workout. The result is that you burn huge amounts of calories and transform the way your body looks.
Adrenalin High: Many city centre workers have stressful jobs. Nothing makes you feel better after a long day at the office than hitting something. Re-wind the clock back a few million years, your primeval self is out foraging for berries and then out of the bush pops a big Sabre-Tooth Tiger. Your body releases adrenalin for tone of three purposes – Flight, Freeze or Fight. You may run (flight) and use your adrenalin to flee, you might hold still (freeze) and hope the tiger doesn’t see you or you might walk up to the Sabre-Tooth and hit him with a double jab before sitting back and slamming a right cross on his nose (fight) before it runs off into the bush screaming like a kitten. Now we all face stress in our life, most of us on a day to day basis. Exercise reduces stress by offering a release, now running after work is the choice of many people to clear their mind. Would you prefer to go home at the end of the day and say I ran away from the Sabre-Tooth or would you prefer to go home and say you gave him a beating? What would make you feel better?
Spiritual Level: We are obsessed with Martial Arts from far-away lands. The very wise people who formed these martial arts schools for commercial gains talk about the ‘spiritual level’ of martial arts. Well boxing/ pugilism is a science and an art form and not only equals but exceeds or far eastern arts for spiritual fulfilment. As you progress you realise this and can relate the success in your everyday life and transfer them to boxing and equally take the lessons you learn from boxing back into your life. I am not levitating as I write this, nor do I ever claim you will be able to punch down walls, but the intricate nature of pugilism and learning the sweet science will amaze you. Some martial arts argue that boxing is too restrictive in that it only used two weapons. World famous martial artist Bruce Lee has a quote I love ‘Fear not than who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times’
Progression is endless: Most people are looking for a way to get fit and lose weight and boxing is great for this. Two to three sessions per week will see you lose weight and tone up, for some that is enough, but at reaching this goal many will want more. You can start sparring and progress up to boxing on show, combine with Strength & Conditioning or integrate with some other fitness work. Because boxing utilises all the energy systems, any conditioning work you do will directly benefit your boxing. You may start off boxing to get fit before you progress to getting fit for boxing. If you are after joining a gym to lose weight then boxing is ideal, but be warned as you get into this sport you will want to learn more and progress.
How to get into boxing training?
The reason White Collar Boxing boomed in New York is that it is such a good workout. You need to find yourself a club/ trainer who can train you. Ensure his/ her credentials not only as a trainer but as a boxing coach. You also need to find a warm and welcoming environment. Most boxing is done at a boxing club, the key word there is ‘club’. As you progress with boxing you will need suitable partners to work partner drills with and who knows, eventually sparring. Although one-to-one input is great, you will need group orientated work and somewhere that offers sparring and group training at a suitable level to progress.
Facilities wise, you don’t need a treadmill laden gym. A boxing ring, an array of quality punch bags and most importantly a good instructor (for group or one to one sessions) and you are good to go – let your pugilistic journey begin.