[b]WAKE-UP BOXERS & FANS (Training Methods)
One of the reasons I'm spending my energy sharing my experiences in this game is that I was bitten by the Boxing Bug in 1951 and left everything in 54' family, friends and my home state to pursue the dream of becoming a World Champion! It was an exciting time in the United States for me, not so for countless others still saddled by overt racism, as one man put it to me, the 50's in the U.S. were the romantic years! From my point of view the sky was the limit-there wasn't anything that I was incapable of accomplishing. The members of the professional boxing community compared to World Population is akin to one grain of sand on a desert. I always say, If, I could go to a Boxing Gym in any city in the U.S. and probably the World, I would meet someone I know or they knew someone I knew, we have things in common.
Boxing was mainstream and there were many great fighters during those years and fights no matter how suspected of being controlled by the mob , (this was only a small group of shysters, just as we have today! but it taints the whole industry), were evenly matched and exciting, electric in nature! Let's put it this way, I met many more people in Boxing who I liked and were better people than in other professions in which I have been involved.
I would suggest that you read subjects in this web site in there entirety and you will probably see boxing from a different perspective and enjoy watching it all the more. The idea is to relate to you the excitement of the game as it was and hopefully resurrect it to it's former glories!
Note: Some of you are probably saying to yourself, "Ya, all right, but this guy is an old fart with old ideas that no longer apply to the modern game". I look at this type of thinking from a different point of view, I'm not getting older, I'm getting better, and will accept new concepts if there warranted? But I'm not discarding nuances that made the boxers of the golden era of boxing the stars that they were!
LET'S DISCUSS TRAINING METHODS - that have changed over the years, proven methods discarded and new one's introduced and some of these popular for a few years and then basically trashed.
First of all if you want to learn to fight you have to fight, mechanical equipment is not going to take the place of alert, tough sparring partners , the best you can find and once you can handle that person move to a higher level. The only way you become proficient is to box and box and then box some more. However there are days when no sparring partners are available, so you have to go to the equipment.
If you desire to be a World Champion you have to isolate yourself from the general public and make sacrifices and begin the training that will carry to your goal. When you practice don't just put in the time, practice alone doesn't make you proficient, PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES YOU PERFECT, don't waste your gym time-each move, each punch you have to strive to make better then the last. You may be the best fighter in your gym or even in your region, but remember this is World Champion, somewhere, someplace there is a young man working diligently towards the same goal and your on a collision course with him if you proceed up the fistic ladder. Don't ever be satisfied with your performances or acquired accomplisments always remember that you will be meeting that other young man one day and you'd better be ready, for he surely will! You must continually challenge yourself always pushing to step up in class.
Number one, spend as much time in your gym ring as possible, hopefully it is raised up off the floor as it will be when you fight. If the ring is open get into it and do your shadow boxing, get the feel of the canvas, the touch of the ropes, get familiar with being in a ring, this is to be your office, your home field. Note: When your training you want to make the conditions as similar to a Boxing contest as possible.
Be patient it takes approximately five to seven years to build a complete fighter with an emphasis on build. You have to develop a strong foundation and where does that start, your legs, just think in every sport who is usually victorious? the athlete with the strongest, fastest legs and/or the ability to position themselves with clever footwork in the proper position to make the basket, win the downhill, run the bases, chase down the fly ball, do the triple lutz etc, etc,. "Sugar" Ray Robinson no question the greatest fighter of all time was an avid tap dancer, don't you think that had something to do with his ability to maneuver around the ring and be in the proper position to deliver the winning blow? of course it did. Note: Amazing, but proper use of the legs is not even a consideration of most modern boxing trainers today and is ignored. Well at least there consistent they don't know anything about defense either.
Let's introduce the most important piece of hardware in the gym, THE SPEED BAG, another ignored item by modern day teachers of the Sweet Science. First we start out with a well conditioned pair of legs and add to that the development of blinding hand speed and hair trigger reflexes, abilities you will be able to acquire from as little as two to three rounds several days a week with this piece of apparatus.
My introduction to the speed bag was by George Araujo, he fought for a real world title against a real World Champion Jimmy Carter at Madison Square Garden and My God he was even a converted southpaw, WOW! that even worked. George also possesed the best pair of legs I have ever seen on a fighter right with "Sugar" Ray and Ali. Great legs, reflexes, converted southpaw could it possibly be that this formula works. From there I went on to add my own wrinkles to working with the speed bag and actually practice on it as if you were actually in a fight with body punching, defensive moves incorporated. Learning how to properly use the little bag is a big plus in your development because your reflexes will become so sharp that you will be knocking out opponents and you will not even realize what you're doing, it's instinct in the ring, if you have to think about it it's too late!
Araujo, Working the Speed Bag*
Photo, Courtesy Providence Journal October 28, 1979
Look at the power in the legs and shoulders, can you imagine a modern lightweight against George? and he wasn't even the champion but probably was rated with the top two or three when photo was taken. Todays practitioners could barely qualify to be a sparring partner for the pugs of the late 40's and the 50's.
Proper Road Work-Yes, there are better ways to do that also, Sparring against the Best you can find, work with the speed bag, then strengthening your abdominal muscles and your neck and then some weight speed training is sufficient to build a better fighter.
Heavy Bag- Yes this is a staple of the training process and gives a boxer the opportunity to practice his full assortment of punches, however it's not that effecive because it doesn't punch back. In Boxing your on offense and defense at the same time, your right hand may be delivering a punch while your left is blocking one, that's why it is so difficult to be proficient as a boxer, there is no transition period where you can switch from offense to defense it's all happening at the same time. One thing the heavy bag is good for is developing stammina for you will have other fighters leaning on you trying to wear you down, which is similar to the dead weight of the heavy bag you will encounter as your trying to work with it. This bag must stay relatively still and not swing back and forth, if it does your not throwing your punches properly.
Double-Ended Bag- this apparatus is basically a childs toy and it's effectiveness is suspect, however if I'm training two or three guys at the same time I'll tell the odd one out to work this bag to keep him occupied until I can give him some quality time.
FOCUS-MITTS - I put this item in capitals to emphasize to you that this is the most overated method of teaching and training for boxing that has come down the pike! First of all it's all offense, boxing isn't all offense as mentioned above, it gives your fighter a false sense of accomplishment that he is doing well, when the only way he's going to know if he's doing well is in the ring boxing with a quality sparring partner and he's kicking their ass! To me it's basically a method that gives the trainer something to do and makes the student and trainer feel that they are doing something worthwhile when in fact the boxer would be better served sparring or trying to master the speed bag. Yes, I do use the focus mitts but I use the ones where your able to catch your students punch on the heel of the mitt and if they make a mistake their going to pay because I'm going to counter back and I can still move and punch! But as a trainer if you don't know anything about boxing you just become another inert piece of hardware, when you should be a teacher.
Jumping Rope-yes this is good for it falls right back into our original conception of strong supple legs and flexibility, the ability to move around the ring in an offensive posture and be able to switch into a defensive mode and back to offensive on a dime without missing a beat! Properly utilizing the jump rope is similar to using the speed bag you need expert help to guide you in getting the most out of the equiptment.
SUMMARY- Do your road work, master the speed bag, find the best sparring partners even if you have to travel long distances to find top guys, this will make you proficient in the art of Boxing, the rest is window dressing. Oh! don't forget you need a top teacher/trainer to motivate and encourage you and observe your every movement to make sure you are not falling into bad habits! Important, you may have access to the best equipment available but if you don't know how to utilize it to it's fullest capacity and get the most out of it, your not training perfectly-it's similar to driving a high-performance auto and never getting it out of second gear.