TITLE Boxing Blog

From inside the gym to around the world of combat sports, the TITLE Boxing Blog keeps you up-to-date with the latest MMA and Boxing news, training tips and fighting techniques. This is the kind of info you need to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Inspiration

  • Johnny Tapia: A Happy, Sad and Crazy Life

    Johnny Tapia: A Happy, Sad and Crazy Life

    By Brett Ater, PR/Social Specialist at TITLE Boxing

    Johnny Tapia Documentary

    For the hardcore boxing fans of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, Johnny Tapia, Mi Vida Loca, was a well-known sparkplug at the top of the sport’s lighter divisions. For me, it wasn’t until HBO released Tapia (2013), a documentary on his life, that I learned the name and was captivated by Johnny, both the boxer and the deeply troubled human being.

    In the ring he was a true showman. He moved around the squared circle with slick footwork, boastful facial expressions, relaxed but secure defense, lightning fast hands and the power to end fights quickly. On top of all that, he could take a punch. It seemed like he enjoyed that part. He reveled in the all-out action. After bouts, always a gracious sport, he’d greet his opponents with a hug, bow to the judges and then top off his night with an in-ring backflip. But all that joy he expressed in the ring couldn’t be replicated on the outside, at least not completely. It’s easy to see now that under the lights was where the Albuquerque native felt truly at home. Outside the ring was where life was hard and unforgiving.

    Much has been written about the extreme lows of Tapia’s life. Even his nickname, Mi Vida Loca, doesn’t do it justice. Johnny’s father was murdered while his mother was pregnant with him. At just eight-years-old Johnny witnessed his mother, Virginia, being driven away from their home. She was chained to a truck. She was brutally assaulted and left for dead, but she fought and crawled more than a hundred yards before being found by police and taken to the emergency room. Sadly, she passed away a few days later. The sights and sounds of his mother’s last days forever haunted him. He told Boxing News in 2011, “My mom’s death kills me every day…I just want to say ‘Good night mama.’ I want to hug my mama.”

    Johnny was raised by his grandparents following his mother’s death and they steered him toward boxing. He was an extremely successful amateur fighter, winning the Golden Gloves National Tournament in ’83 and ’85. His professional career started off hot as well. He went 21-0-1 in his first 22 bouts, but at age 21 he tested positive for cocaine and had his boxing license suspended for nearly four years.

    He returned from his suspension without missing a beat and rattled off four straight victories before getting his first shot at a world title. On October 12, 1994, Johnny Tapia, who’d already overcome so much, defeated Henry Martinez by technical knockout in the 11th round to be named the WBO Super Flyweight Champion of the World. He’d go on to become a five-time world champion and a member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.

    Johnny Tapia made his pro debut in 1988 and fought for the last time in 2011. He fought 64 professional fights and had his hand raised 59 times (30 KOs). His fan-friendly fighting style took him from a gym in Albuquerque to the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden.

    Heartbreakingly, all the in-ring success, a loving wife (Teresa), happy children (three sons) and adoration from friends and fans were no match for the overbearing pain of loss and drug addiction. Tapia was hospitalized after a cocaine overdose in early March of 2007, and he was arrested for a parole violation (due to cocaine use) in February of 2009.

    On May 27, 2012, Johnny Tapia passed away due to heart failure. He was found in his home and no drugs were found in his system. His story is a happy one, with a terribly sad beginning and end. To watch the documentary and to read the articles on his life, there’s no way to pass judgement on how Johnny lived; to not feel gutted when he tried and tried to overcome disturbing emotional trauma and drug addiction; just as there’s no way to not feel giddy when the music plays and he makes his way to the ring; or to not feel emotional when you hear fellow fighters and Albuquerque natives talk about all he meant to them. All you can say is that he was loved and that he loved with all his heart. Sometimes, for whatever reason, life is crazy.

    Honor Johnny Tapia's Legacy with officially licensed apparel here.

  • Fight Like a Girl

    Fight Like a Girl

    By Douglas Ward, Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing

    The Rise of Women Boxers

    Although the phrase fight like a girl has been used in a derogatory way in the past, there's value to doing just that.

    Just as they're the ferocious protectors of their young in the animal kingdom, women are just as as emotionally and physically wired for fighting as men. Men and women are both naturally-gifted with the fight or flight response mechanism. When confronted or put in a potentially dangerous situation, this complex hormonal response. triggered in our bodies, secretes over thirty different stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol; all having a collective, widespread effect on the body. This adrenaline rush can increase your awareness, physical strength, mental acuity and speed/response time, all in order to quickly and adequately handle the perceived threat. This chemical reaction in the human body is not gender-specific. In fact, women may even be quicker to sense, react and respond to her body's natural inclination to protect itself at all costs.

    In terms of basic physical structure, women also contain some natural physiological benefits for success in boxing. First, the female pelvis is larger and broader than it is in men, so women tend to have an advantage in where their natural center of gravity is. They also tend to carry extra weight/place their balance in their hips, unlike men, who tend to carry their weight in their abdominal area. This type of weight distribution allows some women to naturally sit down on their punches more thoroughly and maintain a more balanced center of gravity.  Dropping your center of gravity and sitting down on your punches adds leverage to its delivery.

    Another benefit that women may have is a lack of societal pressure that they should be fighters by nature. In some cases this may make women more "coachable". They're more open-minded when they enter the gym or a teaching/coaching environment, because there aren't preconceived notions as there are with men. The male ego and pressure from society that they should be natural-born killers prevent some men from grasping the basic principles of boxing. It stems from men believing they're too macho to start from scratch and be told how to fight. Some men are so focused on showing how tough they are that they skip over the technique and fundamentals needed to be an effective boxer.

    It may even be safe to say that most women who walk into the gym may feel a greater need to prove themselves. This creates a sense of willingness to go that extra mile and show everyone they can hang with anyone and everyone. That they are just as tough and just as deserving to train, box or compete as anyone else in the gym. There's a certain resolve or inner strength that comes from needing to earn respect from your peers, so they work harder, learn faster and don't give up near as quickly.

    Even though men and women are competing on different physical levels their abilities and capabilities are not that different. In terms of some slight anatomical differences, numerous intangibles and the desire/ability to learn, women may experience some small advantages when it comes to boxing.

    Of course, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to all men or all women. These facts are blanket generalities in some cases. There's still no denying there are a lot of women who can just plain fight, and they're making a distinct place for themselves in the sweet science…a place where fighting like a girl has a whole new meaning.

    Shop TITLE Boxing.

  • Nothing to Fear, but Fear Itself - Understanding the Emotion

    By Douglas Ward, Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing

    Overcome Your Fear in Boxing

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    Fear is something every fighter has had to deal with in his or her career.  Whether or not they will admit it, even the most intimidating, ferocious competitor has had to fight, forget, flee from or face their fear in the ring.  Its impact on performance and the role it plays in the sport is something that can’t be denied.  It has kept contenders from winning championships and has prevented bright prospects from realizing their potential.  Fear can’t be suppressed or wished away, but has to be embraced in order to harness the power it has and what its real purpose is.  Part of harnessing that power is understanding it.

    Fear, and the way that it manifests itself, is born out of self-preservation.  It was the way our ancestors were able to adapt to their surroundings, chasing down their prey for food or running from their food, their prey to keep from being “dinner.”  It was all about survival.  Out of this instinctual breeding ground, it became the human body’s fight-or-flight response.  It is a natural way of coping with stressful surroundings or a dangerous environment….your body’s way of preparing to do battle.  What is happening to the body, in essence, is the frontal cortex sends a message that releases a wave of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.  These hormones elevate blood sugar levels and release a quick burst of energy in preparation to fight. This release also causes the heart to pump up to four times the amount of blood, from 5 to nearly 20 quarts per minute, to increase oxygen and energy flow.  The blood also takes a different route, away from the skin, stomach and kidneys, because they are not necessary for survival at that point.  The blood instead is re-routed to the muscles and vital organs to prepare to mount or defend against a physical attack.  Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rates increase to prepare the body for combat. The body’s nervous system kicks into high gear and every bit of glucose is converted into fuel, creating the perfect environment for a fighting machine. To call the process “amazing” would be an understatement.

    Now, as a fighter, how could you look at that process and not be in awe of how perfectly it fits your profession?  It is an entirely natural instinct, passed down to you from generation to generation, that specifically prepares you to fight.  Most people don’t have an outlet suited to let this play out in day-to-day life.  They don’t have a need or way to release this physiological reaction so they usually create undue stress, hate their boss, get irritated with their neighbor,  yell at other commuters on the way to work and create heightened anxiety/stress in their lives.  Now, that’s unnatural!  Yet, many fighters, struggle with this fear.  The physical reaction, alert nervous system, rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, etc. all feel “foreign” because they are not an everyday emotions, but they actually couldn’t be more natural.  Properly-channeled fear is one of the most powerful tools a fighter has when he’s entering the ring.

    Fighters all deal with these feelings of fear in different ways.  Some listen to music to take their mind off the anxiety, others surround themselves with friends or peers to serve as a distraction, some fighters even talk themselves up in an attempt to project confidence instead of feeling stress, while others might quarantine themselves off in seclusion where they can quietly deal with their fear on their own. None of these methods or tricks is particularly right or wrong, they are just methods to cope.  The important thing is to fully recognize fear for what it is, embrace it and feed it.  When it comes down to fight time, don’t try to suppress it and bottle it up.  Use it. Let your mind fire on all cylinders.  Feed the adrenaline monster.  Enjoy the fact that your body is fully preparing you.  You can even let the fact that these feelings make you uncomfortable, make you mad.

    Legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato once said that “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.”  So the important thing is what you do with your fear.  Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist because then you’re lying to yourself.  Don’t ignore it because then you’re not embracing it and able to use it to its fullest.  But, most importantly, don’t let it consume you.  Everyone has it.  You’re not alone and any fighter who says he doesn’t get scared is lying.  Maybe he has learned how live with it, maybe he enjoys the adrenaline rush and even fully understands the mental and physical benefits of the fight-or-flight mechanism, but everyone feels fear.  The key is how you deal with it.  Cus D’Amato’s protégé, Mike Tyson struggled with fear throughout his career.  He was very open about his own feelings of anxiety from his amateur days all the way through the pros.  His trainers spent hours consoling him and helping him come to terms with his fear.  Tyson even said himself, “I'm scared every time I go into the ring, but it's how you handle it. What you have to do is plant your feet, bite down on your mouthpiece and say, 'Let's go.'”  Without question Tyson learned how to harness his fear and it ultimately became one of his most powerful weapons.  He entered nearly every bout being the one doing the intimidating and allowed his opponents’ fear to do most of the damage before he even threw the first punch.

    We may have evolved as people, but those same basic instincts that kept man alive, before technology and sophistication took over, still dominate human physiology.  They are innate in us.  Whether we are swinging clubs or throwing punches, survival is still at the core of our existence.  This especially applies to fighters, who seek out the experience to go toe-to-toe, expose themselves or their opponent and square off in front of hundreds, even thousands of spectators.  Those that succeed, discover that the greatest challenge wasn’t an opponent at all, but their own emotions…headlined by fear.  That’s what makes winning that much more powerful, because once you’ve conquered your own, unbridled emotions, everything else is child’s play and fear…just another toy.

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    Shop at TITLE Boxing here.

  • Burn the Ships

    By Douglas Ward, Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing

    Boxing Training: Learning Single-Minded Focus

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    In boxing, once that opening bell rings, there’s no turning back. You can change strategy.  You can choose to dig in and create a new outcome, but the only way out is to finish the fight.  You can go out on your back, out on your feet or by doing the unthinkable (quitting), but there has to be a conclusion.  You can’t take a break from the action or call a time-out to reassess.  The fight must go on.Sub01-BurnTheShips-Blog

    So before the action begins, resolve yourself to fight with all of your heart, no matter what.  Do it now.  Before the bell rings, make the decision to lay it all on the line.  This decision to give it your all will make you a better fighter.  It will make you harder to beat.  Your opponent will sense your determination. He will feel your unwavering strength.  He will know that he is in a serious game of attrition and a good ole’ fashioned game of chicken that you will not stray from.

    This decision also takes away your other options and will make the task-at-hand easier to accomplish.  You won’t have to fight an internal battle while a physical one is going on.  Your mind won’t be weighing the options because you have none.  You already eliminated those long before the fight started.Sub02-BurnTheShips-Blog

    It’s not unlike the situation that the Commander of the Spanish Expedition found himself in back in the spring of 1519.  Hernando Cortez and his Spanish Fleet of over 500 soldiers, set sail to the shores of Mexico.  He landed his eleven ships there to seek revenge and acquire riches from the ruling Aztecs. Realizing that some of his men were fearful, full of doubt and hesitant to engage in battle, Cortez did the unthinkable.  He removed the sails from all of the ships, except one.  He threw the compasses and all other valuables overboard and burned all of the ships.  “Burn the ships!” Cortez commanded as he took his men to a point of no return.  With a single order and decision to fight and win at all costs, he took away all other options from his men and eliminated all other courses of action from his own mind.  He left his soldiers with no other choice, but to succeed or die trying.  After a long battle, Cortez took control over the Aztec capitol city, Tenochtitlan and, on August 13, 1521, he claimed it for Spain. Tenochtitlan later became known as Mexico City.Sub03-BurnTheShips-Blog

    Boxing requires a single-minded focus second to no other sport. Its athletes have to be purposeful, uncompromising and willing to risk it all and lose everything.  Having the right mindset means that turning back, retreat is not an option.  Burn the ships and leave yourself only one path to success.  Soon you’ll find that it’s the only real satisfying option anyway because, even when you’re unsuccessful, you’ll know in your heart that you made a decision, carried it through and fought to the very end, without reservation.

    The next time you get ready to step in the ring; don’t just be ready for battle…be ready to “burn the ships".

  • Rock Your Workout with OTHERWISE & TITLE Boxing

    Rock Your Workout with OTHERWISE & TITLE Boxing

    By OTHERWISE & TITLE Boxing

    Balls To The Wall Workout Playlist

    Ditch that old, overplayed playlist you’ve been training to all year because Las Vegas-based hard rock band Otherwise curated the most “balls to the wall” workout playlist we’ve ever heard. Including warm ups like “Indian Summer” by Jai Wolf, Metallica’s sweat-inducing “Enter Sandman” and their very own adrenaline-pumping “Angry Heart”, this playlist is the only playlist you’ll need at the gym.

    Otherwise stopped by TITLE Boxing HQ before their headlining show in Kansas City last month. Vocalist Adrian Patrick and guitarist Ryan Patrick threw some punches and told us why these are their go-to jams:

    “Typical” by Mute Math: "This song reminds me of our higher calling. It keeps the fire inside burning brightly. When I listen to it, I remember why we do what we do… why we fight so hard to cut through the clamor and be heard... why we sacrifice so much in our attempt to transcend."

    “Touched” by VAST: "This tune just makes me feel like a superhero. They tapped into something timeless and otherworldly, something that resides deep down in my psyche somewhere, perhaps passed down by my ancestors across the ages from some ancient battlefield."

    “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine: "I could simply listen to every Rage album on repeat when we train or lift because if any band speaks to the rebel-poet-warrior in me, it's THIS band. When I wrestled and played football in high school, we would hype ourselves up into a frenzy listening to Rage. We'd even blast it when we knew we were heading into some foolish brawl. To this day, I still feel that same youthful, unbridled fury when I listen to Rage."

    “Bury Me a G” by Thug Life: "I'd like to believe that Bruce Wayne would somehow appreciate the die-hard conviction of this jam… that somehow the darkness in his soul would connect with Tupac's savage prose, like mine does."

    “Steppin' Razor” by Peter Tosh: "If I were a professional fighter, I'd probably walk out to this one. It makes me think of our Dad, who is one of the fiercest fighters we know. We may not always fight the right battles or fight them in a way that's acceptable by society at large, but if there is one thing our father has taught us, it's to NEVER stop fighting the good fight, no matter what."

    “Rose of Sharyn” by Killswitch Engage: "This is an anthem that simultaneously fills me with anger and hope, for all the loved ones we've lost. It makes believe that there is light out there in the darkness. It keeps my fighting spirit alive in our pursuit to make all of our better angels proud of the path we've chosen."

    Follow and stream the full playlist here and be sure to grab a copy of Otherwise’s latest album, Sleeping Lions, for even more workout jams.

    To enter for your chance to win a gear package from TITLE Boxing + signed merchandise from OTHERWISE, click here.

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