Almost all sports are considered more mainstream and better understood by the general public than boxing. It has always been a little bit of mystery to parents and prospective fighters and yet, people still find their way to sport. Those few are intrigued, even though from the start, it’s harder to find out the how, why and where? Through their persistence though, they ultimately end up being the lucky few. They are the ones who persevere and follow that attraction towards the very thing that makes boxing so special. It’s different.

From the start, boxing requires a greater level of stepping out of your comfort zone. Even trying to find out the basics, the “how” and” why” is not easy. It requires a little digging, some research and facing that small fear of not really knowing exactly what you’re getting into. Once you get there though. Once you’ve found your way. The rewards can be enormous. Boxing is like no other sport on earth and, frankly, may not even be right for you. So, before you waste your time. Before you take that next step and walk through those gym doors, you might take a look at “why boxing” and see if it matches your expectations?

Boxing is a great way to express yourself. From the time we're young we are taught to suppress our feelings. Don't cry. Don't get mad. Don't be upset. Boxing, on the other hand, is a safe haven for these natural emotions. Anger and fear, frustration and ferocity, although must be controlled, can be expressed freely. In fact, a little fire in your belly will serve you and will be embraced by your boxing coach. Passion is what boxing is all about.

Boxing is an individual sport, but also provides a certain, unique camaraderie in the gym. This makes it the best of both worlds. It teaches a young man or woman how to take responsibility for themselves, win, lose or draw. A fighter can't really place blame anywhere else when he loses. Even overbearing, overprotective parents have to take a backseat and let their kids stand on their own. Self reliance, self dependence, self confidence are all fantastic character traits that standing toe-to-toe in the ring can help develop like no other sport. Along with that though, you benefit from the support of your coach, the belief of your teammates and sparring partners. There’s a commonality in winning and losing that all athletes in the gym share and understand. You stand by yourself in the ring, but are never really alone.

In training or in the ring, make no mistake about it, boxing is one of the hardest sports in all of athletics. It’s physical and mental demands are unparalleled. In its most extreme conditions and in its most extreme form, fighters are forced to ask themselves questions they may never have imagined. The character traits that are required to be a fighter; like facing fear, being patient but persistent, exercising discipline day after day, round after round and even fighting through pain, they all can give you the strength to face any other opposition in life. What you face in the boxing ring is so extreme, so real, so unfiltered that it will make most anything else you experience in life comparatively easy.

At its best, boxing requires adherence to strict fundamentals and that takes discipline. Good technique and the execution of boxing skills are irreplaceable. Approach another sport with a lack of enthusiasm or focus and you might just experience a gutter ball or throw an interception - that's a little embarrassing, but not all that devastating. Show that same lack of discipline in boxing and you experience pain, real physical pain. That's why boxing requires an extra level of discipline and focus that many other sports don't. When the stakes are higher, the level of investment both physical and emotional is greater. As a result, however, the payoff and rewards are greater as well.

Boxing gives you confidence. It instills you with a sense of what you’re mentally capable of and an awareness of your own physicality that is tremendously empowering. The very idea that you can defend yourself, to even the smallest degree, can provide a huge boost to your self-esteem. Self-reliance is in your genetic make-up and being able to take care of yourself plays a big role in that. It is a missing piece of the puzzle for many people who feel out of control of their own lives and ultimate destiny. From the beginning of time, humans were hard-wired to fight; for survival, for food, for freedom, for preservation and even for sport. Having an easy life, is not your ultimate goal. Testing yourself is. Boxing feeds that innate desire to feel pain, explore your vast abilities, to fail and experience victory. That’s why it’s called living and the boxing ring is one place you can experience all of that!

The benefits boxing provide ranges from being more physically fit than ever before, to feeling more confident than you ever have, to being able to actually fight better than you could have dreamed. It is invigorating and inspiring at its very best. It is devastating and disappointing at its very worst. And the best thing about it all is that through it all, you become stronger. You step up and step out and do what 99% of the general public are too scared to do and from that, you become better.

Whether you’re a kid starting out or an adult finally giving it a try, boxing will tell you tons about who you are and will give you all the answers you need about the simplest question…“what am I made of”?

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.