There are many reasons why I love boxing. After a hard day of work and the clock tics on I think of the thrill of sparring. I feel the pressure in every step, I feel the importance of keeping a proper stance and how drastically important it is to keep the hands up. I think about the opponent, I try to analyze his strengths and weaknesses, his favorite combinations, I observe his timing, his range, everything. Everything is important in boxing. You mess up, you get hit, instant criticism, instant feedback. You’re both wearing gloves and at this level, headgear, so the punishment is not as bad as you would think.
After just one round, just three minutes, you feel more worked than if you had been lifting weights or going on a fast run. It’s just you and another person in the ring. But really, it’s just you, it’s you getting over your fears, it’s you thinking on your feet, and you staying composed when it matters most. In the ring, your job doesn’t matter, you don’t think about the argument you had with your girlfriend last night, you don’t ponder the meaning of life or your significance in the big world. You’re alive. It’s the mixture of fear, athleticism, competition, and hunger that gets you through the round.
By the end of three rounds, the technique fades a bit, your punches may be a bit slower and your combinations are not as fast. Heck, even if you’re in great shape, if you’ve been punching, you’re going to be tired. Every shot you land, encourages another shot to throw, instant positive feedback, derived solely from yourself. Nothing feels better than landing a body shot square between the other man’s guard or landing a hook to the jaw. Also, nothing feels worse than getting hit in the stomach. Getting hit in the head, especially with headgear, is nothing to really write about, except that it doesn’t hurt as much as you think it would. But getting hit in the stomach will change your perspective completely. If you didn’t see it coming, it could end the match. It’s basically getting the wind knocked out of you, but also your legs can give out, and suddenly holding your hands up is exponentially more difficult as you want to nurse your stomach to health. I’d rather get hit in the face than in the stomach really hard.
As I said earlier, everything matters in boxing. Also as Mike Tyson says, “everyone has a plan, until they get hit.” If you see me hit the bag, you may think I’m pretty good, my form is getting to textbook level on the bag, I can shadow spar dynamically, and I can work a speed bag as fast as any other guy. But as soon as that pressure kicks in, and I’m fighting someone who is much better than I am, I tighten up, the technique I had been training loses a lot of its effectiveness. I know I can do better, but my mind is instinctively in defense mode – no one likes getting hit. So now I work on looking at the punches as they hit me, making eye contact, accepting the fact that I’m going to get hit and that it is going to hurt, but that one day, I will see those punches, I will dodge them, and I will hit them back really hard.
That is why I train so damn hard. Every tire flip makes my upper cut faster and stronger. Every sledgehammer to a truck tire solidifies my hook. Every push up adds snap to my jab and strength to my straights. Every combination I throw outside the ring, makes it a little bit more automatic when I do fight. Everything matters.
When you see you prepare for a fight, you will notice I’m very particular with keeping my shoes tied tightly (wouldn’t want to have a loose shoe). I also very meticulously wrap my wrists and knuckles this is to ensure I can punch as hard as I can without having to worry about hurting myself. Once again, everything matters. Boxing has become the reason to sleep early, and to run hard even though no one is watching. It’s the reason I eat spaghetti and chicken every. single. night. and avoid all junk food. It’s for those moments, when you’re strapping up getting ready to fight, and you’re scared and you’re thinking about fighting your fight, and remembering everything, and making sure that when you go through your mental check-list, that you have no excuses for not doing your best. So that after the fight, even if you lost, you know you did your absolute best and that you will become better.
Boxing, to me, could be a representation of life. Everything matters, except in life the sparring matches are much longer and subtle, and draining and you may not know that you’re sparring. Boxing has helped me realize that in life, we’re Always sparring. We’re always sparring everything, but most importantly, we’re sparring ourselves.
If you ask me, why do you love boxing so much, I will respond, it makes me feel everything all at once.
Thank you for reading, I know it’s not my usual “Day X” format, but I thought I would share.