Monthly Archives: September 2016

True mastery in boxing?

In boxing, the cultivation of  skill requires not only sound mechanics, but also an appreciation of timing, distance and rhythm.  Mastery of these qualities allows a boxer to apply his (or her) techniques most advantageously, when one is in an optimum position to attack or defend and the opponent is not.

Thus, correct application is what governs ring craft and should always be ranked above technique.  Anyone can throw a punch, but not everyone can position themselves to throw an effective punch without taking one in return.  

Controlling distance; mastering timing; setting up the opponent; hitting and not getting hit: that is boxing.

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Did you like that? I read that first from a guy named Lee Wylie.  I was studying a YouTube video of a southpaw boxer named Guillermo Rigondeaux which he made. (His channel name is  LeeWylie1 for anyone interested.)  Brixham Boxing Club have also cribbed a sentence or two.   Maybe Lee borrowed those words from somewhere else or maybe they’re his own but it’s a nice explanation of boxing.

I got back home 15 days ago and yesterday was my first supervised training.  I’ve actually been popping into Lusby’s Gym a few times just training by myself and training at home too.  I was slightly over middle-weight when I came home but a few days ago I managed to get back down to 75kg.  That strange obsession with my weight won’t go away.  Maybe it’s because I’m scared I’ll just pork right back up again.

I’m still enjoying it though.  Something about the training seems to calm me down.  Takes my mind off things.   As sad as it sounds, a lot of my internet time is spent on YouTube trawling for professional boxers training on the heavy bag, shadow boxing and how a person can train just using household items.  I love watching the Ukrainan boxer, Vasyl Lomachenko.  He’s a wonderful boxer to watch.  It’s like he’s on ice skates when he pivots around.  You can see him practicing those movements on a heavy bag.  Mayweather’s another one.  They do these open-training sessions that the press and media can watch and while they’re not hitting the bag full force, it’s just a gentle tap-tap-tap-tap.  You can set a metronome to it.  He’s there for over 10 minutes continuously.  It’s more tiring than it looks.

I find watching videos like that always freshens up your training; gives you new things to try; makes you think about your own form, your own learning.

Back to the one-to-one training Gary, I spent the session doing bag drills with exercises in-between.  So…

4 different bags in total.

2 minutes on each bag and a different exercise straight after the 2 minutes:

Bag#1 – 20 burpees

Bag#2 – 30 push ups

Bag#3 – 30 double-leg mountain climbs

Bag#4 – 30 crunches

That whole exercise was repeated again except it changed to one minute of rapid punching with the exercises halved.  Trust me, together with the punching, I was pretty tired afterwards.  We finished off with 2 rounds of Gary and the foam sticks.

When my hour was up, I spent another 45 minutes on my own practicing what I saw Lomachenko and Mayweather do on the heavy bags.  It was good that Gary got to see me move after 5 weeks away.  I’ll have to ask him later but I wonder if I’m moving a lot smoother and what I look like on the bags.  Do I look clumsy? Do I look like I know how to box? Somewhere in between?  Form is hard to maintain when you’re tired but I guess that’s why you train.  One of these days I’ll get a tripod for that GoPro camera I won and I can check if I’m moving correctly.


Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity – Plato.

During the heat of battle a boxer has very little time to think.  Time spent on wasted motion and flashy moves is time spent getting hit.  True excellence in boxing, as in most arts, is achieved through mastery of the basics and doing the simple things well. – Lee Wylie

My coach Gary Morris

Flight of the Intruders – A tale in grossness

OK … excluding blood and guts this could be one of the grossest travel stories told involving a man and his boxing gear.

So 5 weeks ago I’m travelling from home, on the way to the boat.  I’ve got my laptop in a rucksack and I’ve got my boxing gear in another carry-on bag.  Sure I could have put that in my check-in bag but sometimes, the check in bag doesn’t make it (especially given I had like 3 connections to make).  Put it this way, there’s no way I’m going to risk being offshore for 5 weeks without being able to box.

I’m on these flights and every now and again, I catch a whiff of my bag and it smells a little stale.  Not really bad but I’m thinking “Crap, have I not washed the bag for a while?  All the clothes inside are clean.”  Maybe I should have washed them at 60 degrees-C and not 40 but I’m thinking “No I’ve never had to wash sports gear at 60”.

Anyway no big deal.

So an overnight stay in a hotel (Never bothered to open the sports bag) and next day I arrive on the boat.  I get my gear into my cabin and start to unpack.  Then I remember about my sports bag and I think to myself “OK what is this strange stale smell in my bag?”

I open it up and the smell is instantly stronger.  I take out a few items and then what do I see?  Yeah what do I see…

There’s a dead mouse in my sports bag – right at the bottom with about fifty maggots crawling all over it.  F*ck I nearly gagged,  I got my stuff out pronto and ran off the vessel, down the gangway plank and just tipped the dead mouse and maggots into the sea.  I gave the bag an almighty shake and made sure every one of those little f**kers got tipped over the side.

How my bag made it through the airport X-rays with parasites and a dead rodent I’ll never know.  I mean, I flew through Amsterdam and Norway and not one word.  Thank God too, I’d have died of embarrassment.  I washed my gym bag at 90-degrees after that (something I’ve never done – 60-degrees is always more than enough!) but the worse thing was that one side of my face guard smelled of dead, rotting mouse.  I wiped it several times with an alcohol-based cleaner and it still smelled.  In fact, it was only in the third week that the smell eventually went away.  I was lucky I packed my boxing gloves into their original air-tight bag otherwise they would have smelled too.

How I missed that mouse when I was packing the bag I just don’t know.  It must have been at the early stage where it was still a fresh kill and hadn’t started to rot yet.  The problem is I leave my bag in my garage, occasionally and I reckon one of my cats maybe chased the thing and it hid in my bag and basically died in there.

It was horrible though.  I kid you not.  That really freaked me out for the rest of the day.  I’ve also semi lost my confidence in airport security.  How a man can carry a dead rodent and live parasites across multiple countries in their hand luggage is pretty concerning!

Wrapping my hands