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

  • Pound-for-Pound the Sweetest Fighter Ever: Sugar Ray Robinson

    Pound-for-Pound the Sweetest Fighter Ever: Sugar Ray Robinson

    By Douglas Ward, Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing*

    His fundamentally sound fighting style, combined with blazing hand speed and knockout power in both hands, established Sugar Ray Robinson as what many would consider, pound-for-pound, the greatest fighter of the century. He was also one of the pioneers of modern-day boxing.

    Even the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali described Ray Robinson as, "The king, the master…my idol." Robinson’s influence on him and many of today’s fighters can still be seen and was absolutely instrumental in some of the liberties boxers of today experience. He was one of the first fighters to begin making demands, dictating his own terms and creating his own rules about how the game would be played. Inside and outside of the boxing ring, Ray Robinson left an indelible mark as a trend-setter, torch-bearer and everlasting example.

    Although Robinson had actually been born Walker Smith, Jr (he had no middle name), he learned early on in his career and quest to become a fighter, how to work the system in his favor. When he was just fifteen years old, three years too young to legally fight, he tried to enter his first boxing match and when asked for his AAU membership card (to prove that he was an amateur and not a professional), his coach submitted one from a fellow fighter who no longer showed up at the gym. The certificate he used had the name “Ray Robinson” on it, so from that day forward, that’s who he became. He later picked up the additional nickname of “Sugar” after knocking-out a highly-regarded amateur from Canada who was stopping all of his opponents. At 118lbs. Robinson was giving up eight pounds against a bigger guy, but after stopping him in the very first round with a left hook, a New York sports editor told Robinson’s coach, “That’s a sweet fighter you got there. A real sweet fighter.” A lady sitting ringside overheard the comment and added, “As sweet as sugar!” You can guess how his name read the next day in the paper. “Sugar” Ray Robinson would ultimately go on to amass an amateur record of 85-0 with 69 of his victories ending in a knockout, 40 of them in the very first round!

    Turning professional in 1940 at the age of nineteen, Robinson raked up a professional record of 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts by 1951. In that span he began setting new rules in the business of boxing, as it related to the hot commodity called Sugar Ray Robinson, becoming the first fighter to demand and receive a percentage of television, theater and gate revenues. And by the mid 1940s he was commanding an unheard of $50,000 per fight.

    He was one of very few fighters at that time, who had enough power and pull on his own that we was able to avoid any mafia ties and outright denied them the ability to have any control over his career. Robinson also understood the value of diversification and the power of leveraging his boxing popularity. In addition to a few ventures into the song and dance and entertainment field, he was also able to capitalize on his celebrity by owning a literal city block of businesses in Harlem. Among a few were; Sugar Ray’s Quality Cleaners, the Golden Gloves Barber Shop, Sugar Ray’s Bar and Grill and Sugar Ray Enterprises.

    Robinson was able to accomplish and maintain all of this, while remaining a rising star, at the top of his game. From 1943 to 1951 Robinson was unbeaten in ninety one fights, the third longest streak in boxing history. He held the welterweight title for five consecutive years, from 1946-1951 and was the five-time middleweight champion between 1951 and 1960. His historic battles with Jake LaMotta, who he fought six times and won five of them became instant classics. He took on the best in the game and, during his reign, boxing was long on talent and toughness. There was no mention of a “bum-of-the-month” club when fighters like Kid Gavilan, Gene Fullmer, Randy Turpin, Carmen Basilio were all lining-up for their shot at Robinson’s title. He was the man-to-beat for two decades and was thirty-eight years old when he won his last middleweight title.

    After having amassed a career record of 173 wins, just 19 loses with 108 knockouts Robinson finally retired in December of 1965 at the age of forty four. Sugar Ray Robinson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and has left a boxing legacy as sweet as anyone could have every imagined.

    Shop Sugar Ray Robinson Legacy apparel here.

    *This post was originally published on December 15, 2014

  • Fighting: In the Ring and On the Scale

    Fighting: In the Ring and On the Scale

    By Chris Johnson

    At 6’0” and 245 lbs, I was grossly overweight. I had tried “the salad diet”, Atkins, intermittent fasting, juicing...heck even one I invented on my own now infamously dubbed “the burrito diet” (don’t ask). In the end, each attempt to lose the weight had a very brief positive effect while my motivation was a peak, followed by a loss of motivation and subsequent weight gain. I was what you’d call a “YoYo dieter."

    As I stepped on the scale in early December 2008 and read “245,” I realized something seriously needed to change. I needed something that would give me structure. I needed a target that would enable me to form habits rather than look up a quick fix on the internet.

    chris johnson weight loss journey 1

    Now was a better time than ever to pursue a lifelong goal I’d had of being a boxer. I’d always viewed boxers as the pinnacle of fitness, nutrition, skill and finesse. I admired the guts needed to get in the ring. Despite the skill and knowledge I lacked for the sport of boxing at the time, I recognized an even bigger fight was looming to get my weight under control.

    I found a boxing gym nearby called Front Range Boxing Academy and spoke at length with the head trainer and coach Dave before joining. On our first call he outlined the boxer’s basic regimen needed to be ready for a fight:

    Sprints (every single day), bag work (heavy bags, double end bags, speed bags), jumping rope and shadow boxing during each workout in the gym, daily calisthenics and sparring 2-3 times per week.

    At the time, I could tell this was a routine he had run several people through over the years. I wasn’t the first guy who wanted to lose weight through boxing and then fight, despite having zero experience.

    All things considered, I quickly dug in on the work outlined by my new coach. Every day started with running and sprinting at sunrise, capped by work in the gym on the bags and in the ring each night. All told I was surpassing 3 hours per day of training.

    The weight came off with the hard work- 245 to 225 in the first 2 months. As 5 months passed I came down to 200 which was fantastic progress, but not yet where I needed to land. My goal was to reach 177 pounds so I could box in the light heavyweight division of the Golden Gloves the upcoming spring. My weight dropped to 200 and stayed there. I wasn’t concerned when it stayed there at first, but as two months passed and I hadn’t lost another pound I became concerned.

    I sat down with my coach to talk about my concerns-- what was I doing wrong? I had followed the old school boxer’s workout regimen to the letter, and I had adhered to the boxer’s diet outlined in similar fashion. Since the old boxer’s workout routine had fueled such good early results, I hadn’t stopped to question my use of the diet method of old pro fighters. As I took a step back and looked at the “old school” boxer’s diet I’d been following the last 8 months, I realized there were some serious issues which were preventing me from losing more weight:

    No Calorie Restrictions, big meals, especially before sparring or fights (Steak and potatoes were a traditional fighter’s favorite pre-workout/fight meal), high fat, high carb and eating big after night workouts before bed (Dinner was the biggest meal and with late night training it often came right before bed).

    After researching how modern diet techniques were in stark contrast from these older diet “techniques” I made immediate changes to correct my diet:

    Cut the calories from liquids/drinks such as soda, no more late night snacks, no late-night carbs or big meals before bed, my meals got smaller over the course of the day: dinner being the smallest, I added poly-unsaturated fats to help me with hunger (almonds, spoonful of peanut butter), no more steak and potatoes—especially before sparring sessions (my only meats were fish or chicken) and still no calorie counting, but tried to watch portion sizes.

    After the changes were made, the weight loss picked up again almost immediately. As the weight dropped, new challenges emerged: I needed to learn how to move in the ring at a lower weight. Each time I sparred, the focus became taking advantage of the benefits of my lower weight. With two months leading up to my first fight, I focused exclusively on movement within the ring as it was quite awkward at 180 pounds compared to the near 200 I’d recently been stuck at.

    Having tried both the old school and modern diet techniques it was easy to contrast their impact on not only my weight, but also my boxing; I found I had more energy in the ring, and the sluggishness I previously felt (likely from the overloaded steak and potato meals) had vanished. I also noticed improvements in my recovery time between sessions. In short, the difference was day and night; I was a different athlete.chris johnson weight loss journey 4

    In the years since, I’ve worked with numerous clients as a personal trainer and boxing instructor. They see the appeal of boxing as a great weight loss tool, which it certainly is. I caution my new clients with my story. Weight loss through boxing has to be equal measures of hard work in the gym AND in the kitchen. When pairing boxing with a proper diet you’re hard pressed to find a better combo to lose weight, but without both in concert with each other you’ll likely only make it halfway to your goal.

    I was lucky enough to win my fight with weight loss and even luckier to win some great fights in the ring as well. Luckily, in the 9 years since I started, I never had to look down at the scale again thinking “something has to change." Both in the ring and outside of it, I keep fighting in hopes to never stop improving and to never return to where I started.

    Bio:chris johnson weight loss journey author pic

    Chris Johnson is a Golden Gloves boxer, CPT and boxing instructor from Boulder, CO. After spending the last 8 years working with both professional and amateur athletes he started his business, Cerus Fitness. It's an online site for people who want to work out and lose weight at home.

  • The Coach’s Corner: “Why Do We Box?”

    The Coach’s Corner: “Why Do We Box?”

    By Kristy Rose Follmar via Rock Steady BoxingIn Your Corner

    “Parkinson’s and boxing?”

    “Don’t they know what happened to Muhammad Ali?”

    Yes. Rock Steady Boxing and its affiliates are beginning boxing programs around the world for people with Parkinson’s disease. But our boxing program is completely NON-contact. The curriculum is designed to improve Parkinson’s symptoms through a boxing-inspired fitness regimen. And it works.

    To the outside world, this seemingly counter-intuitive concept of boxing for Parkinson’s raises eyebrows and begs the question, “Why boxing?”

    Ten years ago, the evidence was very vague about the effect of exercise on Parkinson’s. When Rock Steady’s founder, Scott Newman (diagnosed at age 39), approached his neurologist about boxing for exercise, he was told “Bad idea. You’re going to hurt yourself.” Luckily, Scott did not listen.

    Today, there have been dozens of research studies showing that exercise may have a positive impact in management of Parkinson’s symptoms. Any exercise for Parkinson’s can be helpful, and is encouraged, but scientific evidence suggests the most effective form of exercise is “forced intense exercise” or, pushing the body beyond perceived limitations.

    In addition, research is suggesting that exercises should be intense but also directed at goal based, motor-skill learning. In other words, coupling intense physical activity with things like repetition, challenges and duel-tasking. This type of training can lead to neuroplasticity, which helps to maintain old connections and create new connections in the brain.  So, what type of training is most beneficial?

    ESPN conducted a study that compared the training styles of 60 mainstream sports to 10 degrees of difficulty: Endurance, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination and analytic aptitude.

    The #1 most demanding sport? Boxing.

    Boxers have to train for a diversity of goals to become an optimal fighter. Boxers must work on strength, hand-eye coordination, speed, balance, agility and focus. Each boxing exercise has a purpose and a reason. Many of the skills that boxers are training to improve upon can be issues for people with Parkinson’s.

    In today’s fitness industry, non-contact boxing for fitness is becoming increasing popular.  People are realizing that they do not have to become an actual fighter to reap the health benefits of boxing. The workouts are diverse, intense, and a tremendous stress reliever.  And with so many activities involved in a boxer’s workout – it is fun and you never get bored!

    Rock Steady Boxing is more than just a boxing program. In addition to boxing, we focus on functional activities to help people become more independent in their day-to-day lives. Activities are designed to improve issues such as gait, falling, dexterity, multi-tasking and restore confidence.

    People with Parkinson’s can sometimes battle depression and isolation due to a combination of symptoms and life changes. Rock Steady provides an encouraging, safe and fun atmosphere where people can shake, rattle and roll with their buddies!

    At first glance, Rock Steady might seem like any other boxing gym. But at its very foundation Rock Steady Boxing is a hybrid between intense exercise and creativity with a solid knowledge of Parkinson’s.

    And while we are big fans of all exercise, boxing is what sets us apart. Boxing is the most demanding, comprehensive, fun and the most badass way to FIGHT BACK against Parkinson’s.

    (Lead image via Rock Steady Boxing)

    Bio:

    Kristy Rose Follmar via Marc Morrison Kristy Rose Follmar via Marc Morrison

    Kristy Rose Follmar, ACSM CPT/NASM CES, is the Program Director & Head Coach at RSB Headquarters. She is a three-time, world champion professional boxer. She has been with RSB since 2006 and is the driving force for the development of the Rock Steady Method of fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Delayed Gratification

    Delayed Gratification

    By Fernando Vargas - TITLE Board of Advisors

    3.24.17 BOA Fernando champ pic Photo via BoxRec

    The mistake that many fighters make and one I definitely paid the price for in my own career is keeping it all in perspective. The success. The money. The praise. It all means nothing if you aren't disciplined enough to make it last.

    Speaking for myself, I got caught up in having everything I had worked so hard for and sacrificed for, right now. I wanted to be the champ and live that life, when I should have been dedicating myself more. I didn't wait to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

    I think the majority of fighters make that same mistake. They start celebrating their success too early. To be a real success in boxing and in life, not a temporary one, you have to think long-term. If you just focus on having it all, experiencing everything right now and getting everything you want immediately, you won't dedicate yourself enough to build long-term, lasting success.

    If you want to be a world champion, you have to live for and dedicate your life to the work. Pay now and play later. You have your whole life to party. Commit yourself to the continuing sacrifice and life of a disciplined fighter and then, only then, you get to live the rest of your life as a champion.

    Fernando bio image_BOABio:

    Three-time World Champion, “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas fought with an elite class of fighters throughout the 90s and into the 2000s. He holds wins over Yori Boy Campos (which also made him the youngest Jr. Middleweight to ever hold that title), Winky Wright, Ike Quartey and others. Vargas faced the best fighters of his era in Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad, in what many consider modern-day classics. To this day he remains a fan-favorite because of his accessibility and take-no-prisoners style in the ring. Vargas currently owns and operates the Feroz Fight Factory in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he trains a stable of rising amateur and professional prospects.

    TITLE Board of Advisors:

    A running series of blog posts collected by TITLE Boxing through our relationships with individuals inside the sport. Fighters, trainers, managers, dieticians, referees and more have offered their words, and we bring them to you here.

    Shop TITLE Boxing.

  • Risk Missing or Risk Losing

    Risk Missing or Risk Losing

    By Douglas Ward

    Boxing Psychology

    Although every bag and piece of equipment has a unique purpose, I've always felt that the double end bag is the most demanding and, therefore, the most beneficial. When used correctly, it forces the action, keeps you thinking about offense and defense and, in general, requires more focus. It can test your willingness to go all-out in training and could potentially expose you if you can’t match its pace or speed. That's the exact reason why many fighters avoid it.

    Frankly, it is hard. It requires focus. It's frustrating. It's not easy work.

    When you think about it, approaching the double end bag kind of parallels life. Many boxers, especially when they’re starting out, tend to hold back. They hesitate. They won’t fully commit to a punch because they want to wait for the "right time" to throw and they only want to throw when they know the punch will land. Specifically, on the double end bag, they want to be sure they can catch-it and land a solid, satisfying hit. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. For some, their approach to life is very similar.  Most people are scared to make mistakes. They're afraid to look silly and risk being embarrassed, so they make the easy choice. They take the path of least resistance. They try to fly under the radar and do just enough to get by. That's not how you get better. You get better by doing uncomfortable things. You improve by taking risks. The risk = reward dilemma is what boxers have to confront every day in the gym. It’s the only way you ultimately win.

    The moral of the story is; you have to throw punches, not knowing if they're going to land. You have to have faith, confidence and know that, eventually, you'll connect. One punch landed, leads to two. Two punches lead to four and eventually you pick up the rhythm of the double end bag. Once you get the rhythm and timing down you can really begin to excel. That’s when you improve. That's when life comes together for you...when you stop waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect punch and you just throw.

    In the end, it has to start with that first step into the unknown, no matter how uncomfortable it might feel. This is where most people fail, due to fear. They don't fail from an inability to learn or lack of physical skill. They fail due to the crippling fear of the unknown and unwillingness to take a risk. Muhammad Ali put it best when he said, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

    Live life. Throw punches and be willing to make mistakes. Whether it's a bag or big dreams in front of you, dare to risk, miss and even completely fail. It might be a little rough at first, but being comfortable is highly overrated. Put yourself out there. No one ever achieved anything great by playing it safe.

    Douglas Ward is the Marketing Director at TITLE Boxing.

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