Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blog-main-041414Let’s be real. Not everyone is capable of being a fighter.  It may be in everyone’s DNA, but without that everyday exposure to their survival instincts they lose touch and that natural mind/body connection gets lost.  What it takes, physically and mentally to fight, becomes foreign and feels awkward. They may try, practice and want to fight, but just don’t have what it takes.  Everyone was born with an inherent ability to fight for survival, but not everyone was born to be a competitive boxer.

Sure, most anyone can learn to “box” to varying degrees of success and aspire to call themselves boxers, but in the ring and in the gym you have to prove yourself worthy of being able to call yourself a real fighter.

So here it is….completely subjective, without judgment or malice….just keeping it real. Ask yourself if these sound like you.  Answer honestly and objectively and the self-analysis could be worthwhile and could even change how you approach the sport.

The Top Ten Signs that Say “I am a Real Fighter.”

1.  I show up.  Whether it’s in the gym or to a match, I don’t let excuses get in the way.  I don’t back out.  I don’t back down.  I don’t leave my coach, my teammates or a promoter hanging.  I also show up mentally.  I come to fight and not fold or find a reason to blame it on an off day.  Every fighter has them, but you fight through them.  That’s what fighting is about and it applies always…not just when you’re feeling it.

2.  I make weight.  I don’t come to the weigh-ins fat, out of shape or intentionally overweight to gain a competitive advantage.  That’s unprofessional and disrespectful to everyone involved.  If you have to lose a pound or two after weigh-ins, that’s forgivable.  Several pounds above agreed-upon weight limit=lazy.


3.  I conduct myself like a professional in and out of the ring. I’m not a loudmouth, a bully or a con artist.  If I say I am a fighter, then I act that way at all times.  That means living a lifestyle as a professional athlete, taking care of my mind and my body and being responsible about what I put into it.  I know that if I want to perform at my best, I have to live it day in and day out.

4.  I honor the gym and the people in it.  When I’m in the gym to train, I train. I don’t jack around and socialize and play slap-and-tickle.  I realize that as easily as I can be distracted by someone else, I can also be a distraction.  I respect the gym and pay attention to what I’m there to do. I work hard and play later.

5.  I keep my word.  I say what I’m going to do and I do it.  I show up at the gym when I say I’ll be there.  I’m honest about my weight, my eating habits, how much sleep I’m getting, if I showed up at work and am trustworthy.  Regardless of how others in the boxing industry act and behave, I rise above that and fight with honesty and integrity.

6.  I have heart.  Before even lacing-up the gloves, I determine to give it all I’ve got, no matter what.  Boxing can be a brutal sport so I also understand that “having heart” sometimes requires sensitivity.  I don’t mercilessly beat down on sparring partners who are in over their heads.  I demonstrate compassion to those who deserve it and administer a beating to those who do.  They are usually not the same people.

7.  I have a vision for my career.  I do not waste other people’s time pretending to do something or be something that I’m not wholeheartedly committed to.  I am not aimlessly wandering into the gym just so I can say “I am a fighter”.  I don’t use my pursuits for bragging rights or an as unearned badge of honor.  The title of BOXER is not something I diminish and disrespect by flaunting it around.  Real fighters don’t have to say they are.  They just are.


8.  I have my priorities straight. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that boxing comes first.  It means that I make mature and responsible choices.  I choose practice over partying, skipping rope over skipping a workout and striving for proper balance in my life. I know what needs to be done and I’m willing to sacrifice childish or meaningless pursuits to focus on what’s most important.

9. I don’t have a sense of entitlement.  I am emotionally invested in myself and willing to put forth the effort first, knowing the rewards will come later. I’m not always sitting back and asking what’s in it for me or questioning who owes me before having put in the real amount of time and work that success requires.  I also don’t blame others when things don’t work out right.  I understand that it’s not always the judge’s fault, my coach’s fault or someone else’s problem.  I accept responsibility and know that my ultimate success is up to me.

10. I don’t quit easily.   I will not abandon my goal, my dream or let all of the hard work I’ve put in for nothing.  A real fighter finishes what he starts.  He doesn’t quit halfway through a workout, in the middle of a fight or on himself.  Regardless of the odds, the negative criticism, the realists or even the circumstances, a real fighter fights on.

Granted, there are real fighters who don’t exhibit all of these character traits. Their careers, however, are typically short-lived and, at some point, they get exposed.  Boxing careers of substance and longevity take place when boxers, champions conduct themselves like real fighters.  These traits of a real fighter require character.  If you can build that in life through boxing you will take away so much more than most people could ever grasp, because you will have honed the discipline of a doer and the will of a winner…for life.

Built for Combat and Forged to Fight

by Doug Ward on March 30, 2014

Blog-main-033114There have been several features dedicated to the psychology behind fighting, the fact that humans are actually hardwired to fight and survive.  The fact is, it’s not only psychologically inherent by nature, fighting is also physically inherent by nature.

Recent studies published by the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, has shown that contact sports can actually cause your body to convert cells into lean tissue.  The demands of high-impact sports, like boxing causes the brain to send signals to the body that it needs to be protected by muscle instead of by fat.  As a result, this conversion occurs at a cellular level.

This, in theory, isn’t all that different from bodybuilding or muscle strengthening in general.  By placing a high demand of weight or volume load on your muscles, they harden, grow and become stronger.  The breaking-down or tearing of muscle tissue, forces the muscles to rebuild stronger and bigger.
This finding has very specific applications to boxing because it is about as high contact and high impact as you get in sports.  The message here is that your body will adapt and conform to do as much as you ask it to do.  Part of your job as a combatant is to create a suit of armor you can take into battle; one that will not only inflict damage, but will also help protect you.

There are several approaches you can take in the gym that will aid in this toughening process.  One method is Body Sparring.


You obviously can’t spar and shouldn’t spar all out, all of the time, but you can set some ground rules to simulate the rough stuff to some degree.

Going full power, full contact, and all body allows you to throw hard and take power shots, without all of the unwanted side effects that come with repeatedly getting hit in the face or “rocked”.  Gym wars prepare you well for a fight, but they have long-term, negative repercussions when they happen too often. Taking head shots out of the equation, allows you to toughen your body and condition yourself to get a little rough.  If, either you or your sparring partner, can’t take the body shots, then that’s a sign that its work you should be doing more of anyway.   If you get “stopped” by a body shot, better to have that weak link exposed in the gym, rather than in the ring.  Arms, shoulders, abdomen, upper torso (head excluded) are all fair game in this exercise.

Aside from this specific drill, don’t pamper your body during training.  Don’t do things that could lead to injury, but demand that your meat suit do hard things.  Make it endure some contact, some banging around and a little bit of pain.  That’s the only way it will come to understand what you expect of it.

Keep in mind, the human skeletal structure has 640 muscles wrapped around your bones. Your goal in 80% of your work outs should be to stress and strengthen as many of them as possible. The more physical you get, the deeper you’ll be tapping into your ancestral roots.  You’ll be building-on an inherent ability to toughen-up to take whatever comes your way.

blog_main_031014-1Everyone who consistently walks into the gym wants to be better.  The continual learning process that happens there is part of the appeal of boxing.  It’s a constant challenge to better yourself and improve.  However, that only really happens when a strong foundation is laid and you’re able to do the right things right.  Right?  So here it is… Read More…

Easy Life – Hard Lessons

by Doug Ward on February 23, 2014

Blog-main-022414You hear old-time boxing trainers and aficionados say it all the time; “Fighters aren’t as tough as they used to be.” Is that nostalgia talking or a cold, hard slap in the face of reality?

It’s purely subjective, but it may be most accurate to say that the fighters of today are more technically skilled and athletically advanced, but for the most part (and there are always exceptions) frankly, they just AREN’T as tough. There are many reasons and rationale that backs this up, but it really comes down to the role that society and day-to-day activities play in natural athleticism. The idea that fighters aren’t as tough as they used to be isn’t so much a judgment or indictment on today’s athletes or an assault on their manhood, it’s more about how you, as a fighter, can improve and change what you’re doing to become tougher, like fighters of the past. Read More…

Face Your Fear

by Doug Ward on February 9, 2014

Blog-main-021014The topic of courage and heart is talked about so much in athletics because it’s a big part of competition. The other emotion that is the subject of a lot of conversation, even as many as three or four times in these blog posts alone is fear.

Fear is addressed so regularly, not because it is something that should be focused on, but in order to control it, harness it and master the role it plays in the sport of boxing, it has to be fully understood.
There are numerous quotes on the topic of fear.  Some of the most notable and quotable ones are attributed to the legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato, who said “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs.  It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” Read More…

Man in the Mirror

by Doug Ward January 27, 2014

Shadowboxing has been a part of the sport of boxing almost from its inception.  The idea and exercise of throwing punches at the air and towards an imaginary target is meant to warm a fighter up.  It can help get his body in combat mode or cool him down when the workout is through.  When […]

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For A Clearer New Year

by Doug Ward January 12, 2014

For many people, starting a new year means creating a new you or at least improving the old one. January first becomes about a reinvention and creating new, healthier habits. What it’s really about though is getting back to the foundation and fundamentals of living right.  However, some people get so far off track that […]

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Roll with the Punches

by Doug Ward December 30, 2013

Life in the boxing ring is oftentimes full of twists and turns.  Although it’s a little different, your own boxing technique is also full of twists and turns, at least when you’re executing the basics correctly. Part of what makes some fighters seemingly move so effortlessly is that they understand that movements like; turning on […]

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A One Track Mind

by Doug Ward December 20, 2013

Even though it has become a common and admirable character trait in society today, our minds are not meant to multi-task. Sure, we can.  Yes, we are all capable.  It’s pretty much expected, but it’s simply not how our brains were hard-wired.  It’s not really how we were built to operate. The human mind was […]

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Everyone’s a Critic

by Doug Ward October 28, 2013

Practically everyone has done it or been guilty of it at some point in their lives.  Sitting back and criticizing other people’s actions or minimizing their successes has become a part of human nature.  What used to take the form of idle gossip or barber shop banter has expanded to epic proportions. With the advent […]

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