What makes a great boxer?
Training Tips / Sep 22, 2017
In training it’s useful to set goals and work on different aspects of your fitness and techniques to become a better, all round boxer. But, what makes a great boxer?
Aside from putting in the hours, having natural talent, the right equipment and the grit needed to strive for greatness, here are some of the key characteristics you can work on to improve your fight.
The art of boxing is to hit and not be hit! Speed of punch and movement can help the boxer achieve this. You can see it has a twofold attack and defence advantage and can be worked on in the gym with speed bags – like this one here – and speed ropes.
As it’s a skill that’s developed over time, it’s essential to time yourself to see improvements and know that your process is working.
Landing punches on a moving target is no easy feat; boxers have to size opponents up and predict their movements before judging where and how fast to hit to make it effective. Some of the best boxing champs are those that can land punches at speed in quick succession, weakening their opponent at the same time as stopping them from having the chance to hit back.
Once you have the basic techniques of punching clear in your mind, it’s about applying it to real fight scenarios and training with another boxer.
Strength can be built up by training muscles, lifting weights and regular punch bag exercises – check out our ultimate punch bag workout. With the confidence and power this builds, the strength behind those connecting hits will grow and your opponent will be hit with greater force.
Mike Tyson is well-known for his early career big hits and an incredible sense of timing for finding openings to land these punches.
Truly, defence skills are as important as attacking prowess. It’s essential for a boxer to be able to expertly stop themselves from being hit as they fight and protect themselves as they try to find an advantage.
All of the great pro boxers will research and study their opponents to understand what they’re likely to do in the ring. In this way they can find weaknesses and the best manoeuvres to avoid blows. To boost your own skills, practise blocking punches with a trainer by positioning your arms and body to protect your face and chest, finding the right balance to observe and attack.
You can have all of your techniques perfected but you won’t win bouts without having endurance and the fitness levels needed to perform consistently through rounds. One of the challenges for boxers is being able to keep dominating over an opponent once tiredness kicks in, say by the 10th round. To avoid losing through tiredness and mistakes you wouldn’t normally make, you must be highly trained, fit and in an incredible condition.
This is why determination will pay off as you need that heart behind the sport to go all in and get to this peak level of endurance.
Closely related to achieving the necessary endurance is discipline, inside and outside of the sport. It’s important for all sportspersons to eat right, drink enough liquids, and get enough sleep to be the best they can be. Maybe it goes without saying, but the body needs to be cared for and treated well to do well in the ring.
To a degree, discipline can be taught but for real commitment, it has to come from within the person. As a boxer, you can’t cheat or deviate from the plan when no one is keeping checks; you have to check yourself to stay on course.
We’re not talking about being good at maths, but a boxer must be able to take in a lot of information and use it to build a strategy in real-time to defeat their opponent. This involves prediction and thinking four or five moves ahead, similar to what you’ll hear chess players do. It’s not an easy thing to do and requires an astute understanding of the sport, opponent, and how to attack and defend effectively; all at the same time.
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