I’ve found myself watching a lot of boxing documentaries and special features recently, outside of the current live reporting activities and other day to day tasks that a boxing writer finds himself involved in, and the more and more I watch, speak to and see how some professional boxers live their lives, the more inspired from it I become.
Before getting involved in boxing journalism a few years back, I must admit what I thought I knew as a fan about what boxers put themselves through to entertain us mere mortals, the public, was a little bit off compared to what I’ve learned as a now boxing writer.
You almost have to be around it and really speak to these amazing athletes to fully comprehend the sheer motivational force that drives them. It’s quite unique, as is the sport’s history.
In life, work, business and so forth, I’ve met plenty of hard working people, but I’ve met very few with the work ethic, dedication and drive of professional boxers.
Its an almost intangible, unmeasurable quality within a human being that is hard to define by words, but at the risk of contradicting myself, best attempted in my own vernacular as simply a single focus and single pursuit of achieving one’s goal. Complete tunnel vision.
When fighters go into camp it’s almost like they are going away to become a monk, seriously.
Wake up, eat, run, sleep, get up, afternoon strength and conditioning work in the weights room, back home, eat, then go to the boxing gym in the evening for sparring and pad work, then home for more food, then sleep again.
That’s the schedule of one well known fighter who’s trainer I spoke to recently.
Then, that’s repeated on a daily basis six times a week for a period of two to three months prior to a match, away from his family and kids – left alone to purely focus on winning his fight.
That type of dedication, sacrifice and focus is hard to come by in the ‘real world’, per say, in an office scenario for example.
Many people in life are happy with going to work Monday to Friday, getting a mortgage, having a car, going on a holiday every year, and so on, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But with most boxers who are professional prize fighters their job is so difficult to begin with that most of them are only interested in being the very best at their professions and becoming ultimately a world champion, because as one fighter once told me:
“It’s too hard a game not to want to become world champion and go all the way.”
Of course there are some exceptions to the rule on that philosophy, with some boxers content with being a ‘journeyman’ as they say in the trade, which there is also nothing wrong with either, mind you.
However, the norm from professional fighters I’ve come across in recent years has been the previous for the most part, a relentless passion for what they do and a constant pursuit of improvement that is genuinely infectious to be around.
A positive energy that just can’t help but rub off on you.
That’s why it pains me sometimes when I see fans online and offline slag off some boxers for talking trash before one of their fights, or even in some cases flaunting their money. If anyone deserves their money, it’s fighters – they deserve every single penny.
Think about it, it’s probably the hardest way to make a living that you could possibly imagine. Less than 10% of all professional fighters it is estimated ever make enough money during their careers to live off comfortably for the rest of their lives after they retire.
They get into a ring with another highly trained athlete that has the capability to permanently disfigure them or worst, do it half naked in front of the public, go away into an almost state of isolation for months on end from their families to get themselves in the best possible physical condition they can, all for the entertainment of us, the fans.
Yeah, boxers are a rare breed alright.