I recently engaged in a conversation with a member about potentially boxing on a white collar boxing show. Whenever I have this conversation with people, I can feel like I am coaxing them (or bullying them) into something they don’t want to do. I have such faith in my product, team and procedures, that I never feel anyone is at risk of been physically hurt when boxing on a show that Henrietta Street Gym or Fighting Fit White Collar Boxing are involved with. However, I realise when I get open dialogue of reasons why people wouldn’t want to box, the psychological trauma of boxing is pretty intense.
I asked this client to write me a list of the reason why they wouldn’t want to box and of the 56 initial reasons I was given (more were added later) they included….
‘Because you want to do this to make money from me’
‘you’ve secretly had this planned for me from day 1’
I think perhaps the focus shouldn’t be reasons ‘why would you not want to box on a show’? But reasons to box on a show? There is a strange cycle of abuse that existing with boxing coaches, most boxing coaches are former boxers themselves. They repeat the punishing and gruelling routines that they suffered and pass this on to others. The thought of turning up to a venue in-front of a baying crowd and stepping into a small ring (it always looks smaller on fight night) to fight a person that you have got not previous ill feeling toward. It must be mad? let’s face it, there is never a good time to get punched in the face. I have had these demons, I’ve seen my opponent on the scales and then sat on a bench outside of a venue and thought of ways how to get out this. Could I get my mum to fake been in a car accident? Surely that would be a suitable reason not to fight? I’ve overthought about my ‘shoulder injury’ and self-diagnosed it as a torn rotar cuff and I’ve searched google about me head trauma and realised that I have a minor bleed on the brain from my heavy sparring session – surely a reason why I shouldn’t box?
No man is ever as big as his reputation. And I am the king of self-publicity and thrive from people talking about me.
- I am the man who has sparred multiple world champions
- I am the man who broke the jaw of a prominent Birmingham gang member on the front door of a nightclub.
- I am the rather stupid man who the following week rocked up to a bar when I knew he’d be on my own when he was with his crew and offered him out (he declined)
- And yes, I am the man who has won two midlands titles!
I’m sure you’ve heard your own story about me? But a lot of people don’t know this about me…
- I was the boy who wouldn’t go on school trips because I didn’t like leaving my mum
- I never had my TB jab because I was scarred on needles (still am!
- I don’t like rollercoasters because they make my ‘tummy go funny’.
Now, at some point in my life I went from been a boy who was scared of his own shadow, to a man who genuinely (even if irrationally) believes he could win in a fight with a gorilla. Now if the magic pill was to box on a show and you would become as mad as me, no-one would do it! And I am not saying you will box on a show and become mad and irrational overnight – that takes years of head trauma. What I am saying is I have become more confident, more resilient and more driven than 95% of the people I meet.
Facing up to your fear and tackling things is empowering. I believe anyone who progressed their boxing into open sparring secretly wants to box on a show. I am always concerned when as gym we can’t get them over that final hurdle to box on a show, I feel we fail them as we are unable to give them enough confidence or trust us as a coaching team. Also, we are not able to fully satisfy their needs by completing something that they (taking away the fear) would like to do. When you get dialogue from persons the reasons for not boxing on a show are real and rational, they usually fall back to a few points that centre around a certain theme.
‘What if I lose?’
‘What if I get hurt?’
‘What if I look stupid?’
I can only speak for events that I allow persons to enter that I can’t change the first one and if you follow the process and procedures as outlined you will not get hurt – we wouldn’t match you if we thought this was a possibility.
The reasons why you should box on a show though are deep and far outweigh the things that exist in your head. If you complete this task under a responsible trainer and a responsible body who put relevant safeguards in place and match you appropriately then you will thrive. Competition is what drives us a human beings, from the adrenaline as you walk to the ring and the fear and excitement rolled into one. If you have an opponent who is equal in skill, weight and ability they will test you and bring you beyond your comfort zone. Under pressure (you will feel pressure) and the lights you won’t fold and instinctively do what you have been trained to do. It is a crazy 11 weeks training for 6 minutes and in those six minutes you will unpeel a side of you that you have never seen. These layers are nothing to do with your physical transformation. Becoming physically fitter that you’ve ever been before comes as standard, I am talking about your mental resolve and how you can take that away from this experience and transfer it into other areas of your life. What is more daunting than someone trying to hit you in the face repeatedly in-front of 1000 people? This isn’t a shock assault, this is something you will physically and mentally prepare for. That makes it scarier, but the battle isn’t physical, it’s a mental one. If you go through the process and step in and compete you will become better for it. There is a 50% chance you’ll win, we wouldn’t match it any other way, but there is a 100% certainty you will emerge from the process and stronger, more resilient and confident person. It is a buzz that only those who’ve done it can explain and a buzz that people who step away from the sport are always looking to find again.