5 Things Boxing Taught Me About Life

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"My offense is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious." - Mike Tyson

“My offense is impetuous my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious.” – Mike Tyson

1. Judge Actions, Never Appearances

If you were ever bullied as a kid boxing will give you a completely different outlook on who you should be afraid of. Very rarely is the biggest, most imposing looking guy in the gym the one you should be worried about; in fact the more a fighter relies on their physical strength the more they lack in fundamental skills. The boxers at my gym would frequently joke that the guy who walks in wearing matching Nike head to toe is hardly a threat, but the guy who walks in with old sweatpants and busted gym bag will probably kick your ass.

2. You Won’t Get a K.O. if You Aren’t Swinging

One of the most tempting things to do when you feel overwhelmed in the ring is to cover up.  Especially when you are hurt there is an innate desire to bury your head in your hands and wait to be saved. But in a fight, and in life, when you are down and the odds are against you it’s important to keep swinging. It is well known in boxing that throwing jabs, even jabs that are only meant to keep distance, will slow your opponent and make them think twice about attacking. Never stop moving, slip and jab slip and jab, cover up roll under and counter hook. The moment you stop being active in a fight is the moment your opponent will move in for the kill; by being stagnant you have effectively surrendered the fight.

 The only way to get out of trouble in the ring is to fight; the only way to get through your problems in life is to keep moving forward.

3. Take The Hit, Stand Up

During one of my first sparring sessions against a 3-Time Golden Gloves Champion I worked in off the jab, shoulder pushed him into the ropes and went in to “bully him up”. I was about 15lbs heavier than he was but obviously far less experienced, this strategy played to my strengths. After exchanging a few blows to the body I was raising up to attack the head and he rocked me with an uppercut to the kidney. If you have ever taken a body shot you will know they are far more devastating than a blow to the head. It dropped me instantly. I stood up and went back to my corner, took a 10 sec breather then walked back out touched gloves and continued the session. After he asked laughing, “Are you Irish?” I replied, “Half. Why?” He said, “You took that shot and kept coming, I figured you got some fighter’s blood in you, we don’t see that much with the newer guys. Tough bastard! Respect, taking a hit always shows what a guy’s made of.”

Everyone gets hit, in boxing and life, how you react to it will reveal the person you really are.

4. Adaptation is Key

You hear a lot about style in boxing, certain fighters are regarded as brawlers, technicians, counter punchers, outside fighters, or speed fighters among others. But what you likely don’t hear often enough is that no fighter is successful without having the ability to adapt his style to counteract his opponent. Fighters will frequently alter their style to match up well against their opponent’s weaknesses and coaches are constantly probing looking for patterns and tendencies in the other fighter. Bruce Lee has a famous quote where he states a fighter must be like water, water when poured into a cup it becomes the cup, when poured into a bottle it becomes the bottle. Water adapts to any situation, and so must a fighter to be victorious.

Apply this to your life, some situations require finesse and caution while others may require aggressive action and confidence; never approach a situation with a fixed idea of how it will play out.

5. Your Toughest Fights Are the Ones You Are Most Proud Of

As a fighter there is something of a contradiction in the fact that you would like nothing more than to go into the ring and dominate your opponent with a first round knockout; but at the same time the most grueling, difficult, and drawn out fights are the ones that show you what you’re made of. Meeting with a fighter that is your equal or better is a scary thing, you begin to question your own ability and fear will begin to creep in if you allow it. But instead of focusing on all these external factors the best thing to do is to look within and realize if you fight your heart out with a focused mind and a fighter’s spirit there is nothing else that can be done, and win lose or draw you have done everything in your power to succeed. If you can do that even if defeat you will be proud of yourself, and even in defeat others will recognize your heart and you will earn their respect.

Carry yourself the same way in a difficult situation, realize that battling through and never seceding will lead you to a point in the future where you can look back on your actions and be proud.

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