Golden Rules to Survive Them AND Learn How to Box!
Being an active, competitive boxer requires that you attend one of the many boxing gyms scattered throughout many towns and cities across many countries all across the world. Even in those countries where professional boxing is banned (for example Norway and Sweden), there are a wealth of well-run amateur boxing gyms where the skills and techniques of the noble art are taught for a very reasonable price. To learn how to box is really one of life's cheaper pursuits (assuming the cost is not measured in blood, sweat and tears of course).
It being the case then that there are many boxing gyms and it will only be by a quirk of geography, a lack of desire to box competitively or some medical-type reason (for example acute agoraphobia) that might prevent you from joining one of the community boxing gyms to learn how to box, I wanted to write a short article to provide 3 simple rules to observe if you are about to cross the threshold of a local boxing gym in your area.
Without further ado, let's go over the simple considerations that will allow you to cope with the new environment of the boxing gym and learn how to box in double-quick time.
Don't feel the need to go and spend piles of cash on sparring gloves, head-gear, boxing boots and so on. Keep it simple in the short-term. You will need as a minimum training clothes and shoes, boxing wraps and shower gear. That's it. You don't even need in the short term to buy bag gloves or a skipping rope as the gym will provide these. As time passes and you make a decision as to whether you like being around boxing gyms, you can spend your dollars on the bag gloves, skipping rope, boxing boots and gum shield. All other gear will continue to be provided by the gym.
It is worth understanding that you might want to avoid buying gloves for sparring as the coach will often want to assess their suitability to be used in his or her boxing ring. On a number of occasions I've had to disappoint boxers by refusing to allow them to wear their freshly imported and eye-wateringly expensive gloves for sparring because of the lack of padding in the knuckle area. A boxing coach's primary responsibility is to the safety of the boxers, so they will not mind at all leaving you with a very, very expensive pair of bag gloves rather than allow those gloves into their sparring ring where the risk of injury to one of his or her boxers will increase.
When you join, don't feel upset that the coach does not immediately welcome you to the gym with open arms and spend every waking moment bestowing their knowledge upon you. The reality of most boxing gyms is that the coach is very, very busy and time is always a commodity they need more of. Whilst being flat-out busy is not an entirely acceptable excuse for ignorance, there is a much more understandable reason for them to, as you see it, disregard your considerable efforts and focus on others. The reason is quite simple really, they are testing you.
In the boxing gyms of yester-year, the number of young Dempsey wannabes wishing to don the gloves and throw themselves into the sport probably outnumbered modern patronage by at least 10 to 1. Back in the day, when insurance policies were less fear-inducing to those who ran the boxing gyms, the main method used by coaches to gauge the commitment of hopeful pugilist was to throw them in the ring with very limited instruction, against an experienced opponent, and allow the beating to play out. After a few nights of such a systematic thumping, if the hopeful kept showing up then their desire to fight was no longer in doubt and the coach would honour them with some advice and guidance…everybody's happy.
These days boxing coaches have to be a little more considerate when showing prospective fighters how to box. The most efficient (and least blood-thirsty) way to measure the commitment of an individual in the boxing gym is to ignore the guy. In fact, many coaches appear to go out of their way to totally blank new boxers. If the hopeful just keeps on turning up with their kit bag over their shoulder, then they have proven themselves worthy of the attention of the coach and their journey to boxing greatness begins.
Watch and Listen. This might seem like obvious advice, but it is very important. It goes without saying that you must listen to and follow the instructions of your coach. It is also worth considering that in some cases challenging what the coach says often brings benefits as it demonstrates an inquisitive mind. Be careful how you approach this though as depending upon the coaching style of your coach he or she might well appreciate the debate unless of course they use a more authoritarian approach, in which case you could well find yourself in the midst of a storm of press-ups.
As importantly though, watch the other boxers in the gym. Boxing gyms have a varied mix of skill and experience levels among the fighters. As a novice, watching the more experienced and skilled boxers when they shadow box, spar, work the heavy bag, or anything else for that matter, will help you learn how to box more quickly. Success breeds success. Be warned though, don't make it too obvious otherwise you might give the wrong impression, if you know what I mean. Ask for advice from the boxers themselves. Boxing gyms are a melting pot of learning and generally all are considered equal. In my experience boxers tend to be very giving in their guidance to less experienced gym buddies, so make the most of this and soak it up like a sponge.
So there it is, 3 simple rules that will help you to flourish in any boxing gyms that you venture into. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll not only survive, you'll truly thrive.