A 37-year old boxer in training

So I just recently turned 37 years old and to be honest I never would have guessed that I would take to a sport like boxing at such a late age…

Now it’s got a grip on me and I’m going to see just how far I can go and whether I’m good enough to make it onto the amateur circuit.  I thought I’d write a blog to chart my progress and share my journey with everyone.

The closest thing related to boxing was doing Muay Thai when I was 15 and to be honest my heart wasn’t completely into it. So to find one day that I enjoyed boxing so much was a real surprise.

My main passion in sport came when I was 22 years old when I discovered playing 5-aside football with friends from a company I used to work for.  I loved it. It seems to be a repeat pattern that I find particular sports and hobbies I like, too late on in life to make a proper go of it!

When I find something I enjoy I tend to become obsessed with it – compulsive.  Maybe that’s the Chinese side of me being raised on a diet of repetition from my father.

When I was around the age of ten my dad used to give me these extra Maths problems to do at home every day… EVERY. DAY…  And when I made a mistake (which was often) he would crack me round the head with his hand.  Sometimes he’d use those bamboo sticks you get from the garden centre on my hand.  That was a pretty brutal way to grow up and it’s fair to say during that period there were times I genuinely hated him.

I’ve read and heard that this kind of martial upbringing is pretty common among other Chinese kids of my generation and to some extent across other ethnic minorities.  One book I happened to read compared the difference between the way Chinese children were raised compared to their western counterparts. One remark was that western parents tend to assume their children are fragile and need to be encouraged gently whereas Chinese parents (particular of that old-school generation) assume their children are tough and that they can take whatever you throw at them. That’s a pretty broad generalization made by that person but I can only speak of my own upbringing.

I’ll give you an example… it’s not uncommon for Chinese parents to just point-blank say to their kids or other kids that they’re fat or they’ve put on weight.  Like they’ll just throw that in there.  It can be pretty frank.

I look at both these sides and still maintain deep down that good parenting lies somewhere in between.

I can’t speak for other kids but that kind of upbringing has left me with a few things I’ve taken into my adult life.  I find that I can do things repetitively and compulsively without any problem at all and that’s useful for working out and learning new things.  However, I can get frustrated easily, I can have a short temper which is a weakness and I absolutely hate losing.  The frustration of losing comes from something in my head that I’ve simply not practiced or worked hard enough to be able to overcome my problem.  That doesn’t mean I’m ungracious towards opponents and other people.  But of course, if I get beaten I completely understand that the other person has worked harder or has a talent for something that I haven’t been able to reach.  It’s just something that never sits easy with me.

I love my dad and talk to him often.  He’s this eccentric, loveable guy that seems completely different to the guy that raised my sister and I in such a hard way.  He made me tough and gave me a willpower that not everyone will understand.  My biggest regret is that I wonder had my dad explained what he was doing, or coached a little more gently, would it have been possible for both of us to realize some of these other passions I had, like football, boxing and chess and I wonder with my compulsion, how far we could have gone.

How did this boxing thing start?

Well I work offshore and someone installed a speed bag platform.  Our internet connection on the boat was awful so I learned to hit it using written instructions on WikiHOW (which is still the best guide I’ve seen despite seeing numerous youTube efforts. -You only need to learn to count to 3…)  After the speed bag I was reading about shadowboxing and how useful it is for speed, technique and fitness and then, the rest is history…

I love the body mechanics involved.  Shadow boxing must be what learning to dance must be like.  That freedom of movement, the ability to express with your body and practice whatever  you want, wherever you want, at any time you want.  Sometimes I can be walking the dog and my shoulders and arms can just start to make a simple 3 punch combination.

In that 5 week trip in the Indian sun, on the deck of that vessel I lost close to 5 kilos in 35 days doing mostly skipping, shadow boxing, hitting the heavy bag and playing keepy uppy with a football on the helideck.

The first thing I did when I returned to my home in Stirlingshire in Scotland was find a boxing club.  Closest one to me is in a place called Kirkintilloch called Lusby’s Gym run by Gary Morris.  My wife doesn’t understand where this obsession has come from.  In truth she doesn’t like boxing at all.  Not many people do, for obvious reasons but I’m going to share my love of it with you in the hope you can maybe see and feel a little bit of how I feel.

So if you want to see whether an old dog can learn new tricks why don’t you follow this blog 😉

 

My Noxor-Androx experiment

I’ve lost a lot of weight since I started boxing back around April of this year.  Back then I weighed around 84 to 86 kg (around 185 lbs) and now, depending on how dehydrated my body is, I weigh 71 to 74 kg (around 156 lbs).

Nothing much in my wardrobe fits me right now including my winter jackets which is a problem because I’m pretty lazy when it comes to clothes shopping and it’s getting cold in Scotland. Working offshore doesn’t help either as the standard issue Brit offshore worker lives in a t-shirt and cargo shorts!

So right now my body looks like this:

I’m not quite in the Gerard Butler “300” or the Brad Pitt “Fight Club” range.

Now I’ve never really used supplements before and the key word being supplements not steroids! However an ESPN article I came across, caught my eye.  The article was on two supplements used together (a process called stacking) in order to promote lean muscle mass.  They are Noxor and Androx.  Pretty ridiculous names I know.  They sound like a Las Vegas male stripper act.

Androx comes in a little tube of 60 pills and Noxor comes as 90 pills.

Androx is a testosterone booster with the instructions to take 1-2 capsules a day with your meal.

Noxor contains various things that make you want to re-take high school Chemistry with the recommended use of taking 2-3 capsules 30-60 minutes before workout.

My intention was to trial these on my last offshore trip but they sadly arrived the day after I left for my work in Malaysia.  When I work offshore, I train everyday free from any kind of distraction whereas at home (which is where I am as I write this) I basically cut down to:

  1.  Monday: An hour long game of 5-aside football (soccer).
  2. Tuesday and Thursday: Boxing training sessions lasting 90 minutes.
  3. Two randomly chosen days where I do a 3km run with 25 minutes of shadowboxing afterwards.

The stuff at home and the offshore training since April has got me where I am right now in physical terms and I’m okay with that.  However there’s a part of me that’s interested if these supplements can make any difference.  They’re not exactly cheap either.  Noxor and Androx are sold together for 88 GBP which is 110 USD.  It’s not exactly Weight-Watchers or the Cambridge Diet but I guess it’s not too far from that principal!

I’m going to basically trial these two supplements to see if they actually do anything to my physique.  I’ll start taking them while I’m at home but only before I do any kind of training.

  • I’m not going to change my eating patterns or the types of food I eat.
  • I’m not going to do any additional fasting.

That’s important.  I’m just an ordinary guy training and eating with this one additional change to my routines.

My next offshore trip starts on the 14th December so there’s some crossover.  I’ll find out if this is 88 GBP worth of placebo or if there’s actually some benefit to this.

Training in the Malaysian heat

I can see why some people prefer to do their training (and their living) somewhere warm!  You’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve been physically inactive for the last four weeks but I’ve been training everyday in the Malaysian heat.   Before I left home, I downloaded a whole bunch of YouTube clips of Vasyl Lomachenko practicing his shadowboxing and some of his movements on the heavy bag so I’ve spent the last four weeks putting my study into practice.  I’ve really enjoyed it and there isn’t a day where I’m thankful that I’ve found something I really enjoy that takes my mind and my body away from here.

I’ve lost some more weight but it’s not hard when you’re training in this kind of 26 to 30 degree Celcius heat (79 – 86F).  I’ll have to weigh myself when the boat is moored alongside later this week but the last time I checked I was hovering around 71 kg with my body dehydrated.  I had a moment where I was thinking where all this training is going…  Maybe there shouldn’t be a point.   Maybe I should just enjoy it for however long my body can keep up.   I’m moving a lot better though and I’ve put a lot of time into the training since April.  That’s what life offshore is like.  You can set yourself up so you don’t do anything except work and train everyday and I have.

I managed to get hold of the Pacquiao – Vargas fight.  It was great to see a 37-year old Pacquiao out-score and out-box a man ten years his junior and win back his title.  I’m not saying I’m anything like Pacquiao but if you look after yourself and train hard, you can still accomplish things.

Mind you, I think a younger Pacquiao wouldn’t have let the fight go to twelve rounds but he looked happy in that ring.  He’s always got a smile on his face when he walks on and why wouldn’t he?  Pacquiao was homeless on the streets of Manilla and eventually got paid handsomely doing something he clearly loves and does so well.

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This is one of places I train on this boat.  It’s outdoors but I’m thankful there’s shelter from the sun.  It can get really warm!  I normally shadowbox on the helideck in the sun for 25 minutes before I spend another half an hour on this heavy bag.  There’s not enough space to move 360-degrees around but I can still pivot 180 degrees  in the way I’ve seen Lomachenko practice that move so many times.  One day I might even be able to execute that against someone rather than practice it on the bag.  I’ll do other things additionally like do interval training and run on the treadmill a few times a week so my body’s still getting a good balance.

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This is my cabin.  Small!  I’ve actually made it pretty cosy.  That’s a rug I bought when I was in Indonesia a couple of years ago and I just keep it on the boat.  I think I’ll bring a poster, or two, back with me since I’ll be working over Christmas this year.  It’d be good to have something nice on those bare walls.  I like how my cabin’s become a sanctuary for me.  I can just close that door and I feel relaxed.  I think it’s the rug that ties the room together!  You can see my yellow boxing shoes on that transport box next to an older Mark I PS3.  What have I been playing on that?  Fight Night 4 of course! lol.  I am going to buy Fight Night Champion when I go home.  Give me something to do when I come back for Christmas (Besides more training!).  Right now I’m just looking forward to going home.

 

Putting yourself in harm’s way

I love the training in boxing.  On the boat I’m able to train everyday.  When I’m at home I train to a lesser extent.  Yesterday I went to Lusby’s and I wasn’t expecting Lewis to be there let alone do any sparring.  It was nice to try and put into practice some of the movements that I’ve tried to work on.

When I watch action-type movies you see a lot of people getting into fist fights and bar brawls, all different types of fights.  It all looks easy.  Someone comes towards you and bang, they strike or get struck.  What’s incredibly tricky though is judging the distance when you’re able to physically hit someone.  Not many people have been involved in physical confrontation and gauging that distance accurately isn’t something you can just pick up instantly.

It’s alright if the person isn’t expecting it.  Sure you can just walk up and sucker punch someone no problem.  They’re hardly in a position to offer resistance.  But if someone’s waiting, ready for it… you’re talking inches.  Just inches and centimetres.  The difference between being able to land something and hitting plain, thin air…  and then you have to be aware that you can also be hit back in return.

Pawing jabs and punches…

I love watching this Ukrainian boxer called Vasyl Lomachenko.  I’ve mentioned him before but he’s a wonderful boxer to watch.  His movement is really fantastic and there’s a lot of stuff you can learn when you watch him fight and train.

One thing I see him do in a ring is that he does a lot of these “pawing jabs” and punches.  Just light taps.  They’re not really going to hurt anyone but he uses them to occupy someone’s vision and whilst that’s going on, his feet are moving to a better position.  It’s then he’ll stop pawing and strike you somewhere exposed with more force.

  • This takes a lot of practice. My head movement, my guard… You’re trying to pay attention to what the guy opposite you is doing too.
  • Against an orthodox boxer I’m always trying to secure an “outside” position with my foot.  Against another southpaw, we’re even, so I have to box well, look for my openings and react well.
  • Harder to put into practice than you think. Fitness has to be good of course but more experience in the ring is essential.

Pivoting fast…

I’ve watched Lomachenko practice this on a heavy bag and there’s countless examples where he’s done it in a fight.  His movement is amazing.  The only way I can describe it that one minute he’s in front of you and in a flash he’ll skate around and just land a body shot or an uppercut.

  • The very first thing I realized when I tried this is that you have to be close to the other guy.  It’s more of an inside fighting move.  When I tried it on Lewis, I was too far away and he didn’t have to do much to just react to it and as a result, I was too far away to land a body shot at times.
  • I think you have to condition yourself to get used to being close to your opponent.  I have to learn to be able to block well (because at such short distance, I’m going to be vulnerable too) and then be able to see the chance to skate around.
  • I need to get close but that’s tricky in itself.  You have to train your mind to accept you’re jabbing your way into harm’s reach.

Blocking

There were a few times when I invited Lewis to come on at me and I would just block with my gloves in front of my face and and my elbows tucked in.  I was trying to condition myself to get used to the feeling of someone pummelling me.

  • When I tried this I forgot to open my gloves every so often so I could see where the shots were coming from.  I need to work on that.
  • Thinking about it now I should have thrown a few inside shots of my own but I didn’t, which I regret.  Thinking about it again, this would have been a good moment to try that fast pivot I mentioned above.
  • I escaped by just pivoting away and maybe in an ideal world I should have pivoted away and thrown a few shots quickly.

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So that was it!  Four rounds.  It goes quickly.  It gave me plenty to think about though and I’m further away than I thought as usual!


Here’s a great video of Lomachenko. You can see him doing the two things above and there’s an amazing track I love listening to just now.  Tom Day – “Who we want to be”.

 

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.

***

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

Learning to box and writing a story are poles apart

Despite the ongoing pain endured from being punched in the chest a couple of weeks ago I’m still training consistently.  It’s pretty damaging being punched in the chest.  You think of the chest as being a pretty solid part of your body but there’s a lot of organs underneath including your lungs.  It’s been two weeks now and I still have small pains from simple things like blowing my nose or just breathing in deeply.  At one point it hurt if I laughed too much.

The diet wasn’t going too badly for the last week and a half.  I’d actually been sticking to the fish and vegetables but Torribio cooked this amazing curry yesterday along with some pork with crackling and some plum sauce.  It was incredible.  I didn’t regret wolfing down two plates but I felt pretty heavy trying to shadow box it all away in the evening.

I haven’t done any creative writing since I’ve been away but it’s not like training physically.  I can train two hours a day, everyday no problem but writing… that’s a different kettle of fish.  Things like willpower and determination don’t count for anything.  Sure you can make yourself sit at a desk but that doesn’t mean that ideas, a storyline and characters are going to spring to life.  You can’t will yourself to finish a piece of writing – or perhaps you can but I doubt anything of quality is going to come out of it.  You need your imagination to be working and your mind has to be in a healthy place free from distraction.

I’ve wanted to write and publish something since I was fifteen years old.  My dad ruled out a career in that direction gambling on science and engineering being a surer thing than anything creative or artistic.  Maybe he was correct to some extent.  I don’t think I’m a natural storyteller and I’m in no way prolific when it comes to writing.  The only thing that’s kept me going all these years is that I truly think there’s a good story inside me waiting to be told.  Sooner or later, I’ll realize what that is and I’ll be able to translate it onto mauscript and get it out.  At the moment it’s all just half efforts and recently the odd short story.

Then again, having thought about it just now, maybe that’s just an excuse.  What people see as “natural ability” or “talent” is often just practice.  Repeated practice.  If I don’t keep writing then how is any of my work going to get better so maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot there.  I need to get my finger out.  Watch some more movies and read some more books to get some inspiration, read some more books, that kind of thing?

The last short story I wrote The Journeyman was inspired by two real life people I’d read about and the characters were appealing – everything seemed to flow nicely from one scene to the next. I barely had to think and I liked that.  I was so absorbed in writing that short story that unfortunately I was ignoring my wife for large portions of the day which is pretty bad.  Writing a bigger story is more difficult!  I have difficulties making everything tie in nicely but whenever I read someone else’s story that I’ve enjoyed, their ideas and plot are actually pretty simple.  So then, am I trying to over-complicate things when I write?  It’s a conundrum and art that I’ve yet to master.

One day readers…  one day! 🙂

Wrapping my hands

10 rounds and some fear factor

I’d already had an hour’s session in the morning when Jim poked his head into the instrument room in the afternoon and asked if I fancied doing some sparring.  That morning consisted of a 4km run and around half an hour of drills on the heavy and double end bag.  I was going to do another session in the evening but I didn’t expect to take my body into battle in the evening.

I had a little more trepidation this time.  Maybe because I knew my body had only just recovered from the 12 rounds on Sunday but I wanted to warm up this time.  Jim has his own 12oz gloves and I tried dropping a hint to him as he was wrapping up his hands mentioning there were some unworn 16oz gloves in the gym but he didn’t bite.  I have my pair of 16oz gloves which I always use but I also have a pair of 12oz I took with me, this time.  I haven’t used those yet, this trip.  Jim has only 12oz and it’s a slight advantage.  I didn’t do too badly last 12 rounds so I didn’t mind doing the same again.

One punch of his came and somehow slipped through a gap in my head guard and partially onto my right eye.  It rocked me back and I had to stop momentarily and shake that off.  I wondered if I was going to have a black eye but I had to put that to the back of my mind.  That was only Round 2.

I’ve been boxing for just shy of 6 months now and to be honest, the time and practice that I’ve put in equates more than what an average person would do.  But if you talk ring-craft, I only hold around 24 rounds of experience.  It shows.  I still have tendencies to turn away, my feet are not always balanced, I’m leaning forward or back a little too much.  There are a few hooks that come my way that I don’t even see coming and although a head guard can block off some peripheral vision, that’s lazy eyes on my part.  It tells me I’m not reading body language or aware enough yet.

Jim had gone for a run right before the sparring as well and I know he felt tired too.  It was near Round 7 we decided just to take it to 10 rounds only (and not 12) but even then I was flagging a little.  The first 12 rounds I practiced in that first week, my footwork was way better – I circled around much more and I was much more active.  This session, by the time I reached the 8th, all I wanted to do was Philly-shell up and keep Jim at bay but you can’t do that.  Even though you’re too tired to throw, you have to look like you want to throw otherwise you’re only inviting the other guy onto you.

I managed to survive the 10 rounds but I have a raft of questions that were in my head, that are still in my head today.  They’re all about how I can improve my balance so I am always in a position to throw punches.  Like someone commented… Boxing is about balance.  Keeping yours and taking it away from the other guy.

The two blows to my right pectoral that stopped me dead in my tracks during the sparring made it painful for me to sit up in my bed last night and this morning but it’s minimal stuff.  I’m going to give myself a week from Sunday before the next sparring.  I’m also going to put on my 12 oz gloves next time if Jim continues to wear his.  That will make it even.  My hand speed will be faster.  Faster to come back and protect my head, faster to jab out and ward him off.

Last night was good but I felt trepidation and I didn’t have that the first session.  Maybe because I knew this time I wasn’t 100% and maybe I knew Jim was faster than me which got into my head a little bit.  The bag work, the running, the jumping rope, the drills… that’s where you go to get the techniques.  Sparring?  That’s where you go to learn to fight.  You come to understand what works in the ring for you and what doesn’t work, what you’re doing good and what you’ve got to improve on.  It can’t be about you and someone else inflicting pain on each other – that’s pointless.  If I match up in glove weight with my opponent that will help me answer some more questions, I’m certain of that.  I won’t make that mistake again next session.  I’m getting hit more than Jim, that’s what I feel at least.  That’s not just down to the weight difference in gloves, of course not.  They call boxing The Sweet Science and in science experiments you need certain variables to remain constant in order to solve the other unknowns.

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Adidas Hybrid 300 Boxing Gloves Review (16oz)

I love my Winning lace ups but sometimes it isn’t practical because I’m either training at home or sometimes there are situations when there’s no one around to help you lace up your gloves.  I work offshore for half the year as well so it isn’t practical for me to go looking for someone to help me lace up.    There are also times where you’d like to take your gloves off and on (for instance to reset the interval timer on your phone or iPod) and then it may be annoying if you have to go and find someone to re-lace your gloves for the second or third time.

 

These are hybrid gloves and although I’m not exactly sure what that means, I think it’s a mechanism that offers somewhere between the security and support of traditional lace-ups with the practicality of the velcro system.  These Adidas 300 have a clever elastic strap on the inner sleeve that tightens as you pull the velcro over.  It offers really good wrist support.  I’ve been using them every day since I’ve been offshore, training twice a day (just over an hour each session), every day and I’ve used them for sparring out here too and the support holds up great.  The outer skin has a few perforated airholes and the lining inside is a satin-like material that’s really cool, breathable and comfortable and my hand feels really good inside.  I’ve worn these with training wrap but also with bandage and gauze methods of wrapping your hands.  The latter method obviously makes your hand more bulky but my (Euro) size 8 – 9 hands still fit nicely inside the glove.  I don’t have particularly big hands for a guy though but for me, they’re comfy – more comfy than my RDX ones which were my first ever glove.

The Adidas Hybrid 300 gloves retail around 80 – 90 GBP so they’re at the higher end of the spectrum.  You’re paying that extra money for the extra wrist support (which admittedly is very good) and the quality of the materials and the linining which again are good.

My one gripe, is that I’ve noticed around the inner thumb area, the “skin” of the glove has already started to rub away.  I’m not even sure how that’s happened (or is happening).  These gloves are training gloves so I think they can be used for sparring and bagwork but I think there’s a trade off right there because sparring gloves are designed to be softer (obviously for facial impact) and bag gloves are padded extra and more hard wearing as you’re going to be striking leather and synthetic bags lots of times over.  With a training glove you’ll never get the full durability of separate bag gloves and sparring gloves, though.  If you love your gear and you have more money to throw at your gear, you can afford to buy two sets of really good gloves but this isn’t a bad in-between.

There’s a definite “band” when buying gloves.  You’ve got the sub 20 – 50 GBP range then a 50 – 100 GBP range and then you enter the Holy Grail 100+ GBP range.  When I compare these Adidas to my Winning pair there’s obviously no comparison for comfort and balance but actually the balance isn’t too bad – they feel a little bulkier.  What do I mean by that? Well my Winning are 16oz but they’re so well balanced they feel ridiculous like 12 or 14oz – these Adidas 300 are 16oz but they definitely feel like 16oz!

The Hybrid 300s  are at the middle to higher end of the glove spectrum and it’s not a bad effort from Adidas.

One important point is that unlike my RDX, the quality of material is good enough that with one hand gloved, I can grasp the velcro strap with my gloved hand and actually pull it on normally.  With the RDX ones I couldn’t move my fingers enough and ended up using my teeth to pull the velcro strap and secure down the remaining glove.  The problem I found with my old RDX (which were around 30 – 50 GBP) is that if I didn’t grip the bar inside properly there were times when my thumb would ache while hitting the bag.  Maybe the shape of the RDX was a little unforgiving and I didn’t form a proper fist inside at times, due to ergonomics.  This hasn’t happened once with the Hybrid 300s.

I love boxing gloves (and boxing boots!) – Something about the shiny colours, those classic shapes – the way that no two gloves made by two manufacturers seem to feel identical.

These Adidas are worth a try for sure.  Most shopping is done online nowadays and if you’re like me, then I hate returning stuff via post.  With gloves it’s not a bad idea to go to a boxing club and try some different ones if you can do that and find what’s right for you.  You’re going to be doing a lot of hitting hard and soft and at different speeds and different types of bag – it’s important to find a glove that doesn’t hurt your hand (through poor design in ergonomics or material).

Always look after your hands.

 

Powers of recuperation

I remember reading this interview that Arnold Schwarzeneggar did while on the set of Terminator 3 way back when he was making a comeback as an action star (he must have been in his early sixties) and something he said stayed with me.  It was, “Look, I feel great.  I can do everythng I did when I was thirty years old… it just takes me longer to recover from it.”

Arnie nailed that last part in a nutshell.

Those 12 rounds that I sparred, you don’t realize it until after but parts of my body feel like they’ve been tenderized by a meat mallet.  I blocked off a large portion of shots and obviously Jim and me weren’t going at it hammer and tongs style but occassionally, some blows sneak through and the punches absorbed by the defense of your arms and shoulders… you can feel those the day after.

When I mentioned to Jim I was still aching yesterday I was thankful he said the same.  I think it would have demoralized me if he turned and looked puzzled at me and said “No, I feel great.”

The sparring was Sunday and this is Wednesday.  I took Tuesday-night training off and my body felt better this morning for it.  I think I may have been caught under my right arm, somewhere close to my armpit).  It’s tender when I throw an uppercut.  I just gave away my Ibuprofen to a guy who woke up with a cranky neck but I may ask for a couple of tablets back!

I’ve just been eating vegetables and rice this whole week.  I’m not a vegetarian so I’ll happily spoon the sauce from the cook’s chicken curry (for example) with my vegetables!  I can’t quite bring myself to give up desert though!  Saturday I’m going to let myself eat a steak.  Just the steak though.  Rare, bloody.  I can’t wait!  (To hell with it – I need some protein, right? I didn’t bring any Vega with me this time)

We were going to do another sparring session this Sunday which I’m really looking forward to but then Jim just walked into the instrument room just now (now being Thursday) and asked if I was alright for tonight.   I thought about it for a split second before I said yes.  I read a lot of comments on people who sparred for the first time.  There’s a handful that had an awful first-time experience being paired up inappriopriately or having a masochistic coach that insisted on the beginner “toughing it out” as a kind of ritual rather than something useful and progressive.  That’s such a waste.  How many good people who could have really enjoyed and become decent boxers were lost because of someone like that, teaching them?  I can only hope they found another club eventually and felt a little better about themselves instead of being made to feel useless.

When the buzzer goes on my iPod app and we touch gloves the adrenalin is already there.  Sometimes with things like this there’s a fight or flight response that kicks in.  Every animal has it.  If someone spits in your face in the middle of the street society tells you that it’s inaproproate and unlawful to to retaliate and those things are in the back of your head (for many decent civilians out there).  Most people aren’t cowardly – they’re only concerned about the repercusions – that’s what civilisation does to you.  But in a ring, you’re training.  The conditions are fair.  If you can hit me then I can certainly hit you back.  You’re free.  Truly free of any burden.   Some people go through life and don’t get the chance to experience what that’s like.

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Going 12 rounds

I’m back on the boat and training a couple of times a day, again.  That’s the good thing about working offshore – you get a lot of time to contemplate and focus on things.  I decided yesterday to make a legitimate effort to get down to welterweight which is 69 kg, 155 lbs (At the moment I weigh 74 kg, 163 lbs) – I’m on a diet of only rice, vegtables and fish.  I said my last goodbye to Steak Saturdays and I bypassed (what Rich described as) one of the best offshore lasagnes I’ve seen.  I’m not giving up waffles on a Sunday and Wednesday though.  Screw that – I want to box, not be a saint!

I’ll try at least! I don’t want to end up looking like Christian Bale in “The Machinist” and if I start to feel weak when I train then I’ll know I’m maybe not supposed to hovering around that weight.  I’ve not got a weight disorder or anything like that – it’s just that everyone has a weight, at a given age, where their body is in its best condition: Minimal fat, lean muscle, a heart like a whale.  Just this once, I’d like to go for that – before the Good Lord starts to take it away from me little by little. 🙂

Yesterday was a real treat.  I’m onboard a boat and Jim is here too – this time we’ve both got our head gear with us and Jim’s around my weight and height so yesterday evening, after shift we did twelve , three-minute minute rounds of sparring.  I was pleasantly surprised I made it through to the last round.  I was dropped around the eighth or ninth round though.  One of Jim’s punches caught me right on the solar plexus.  I’ve never been hit there before.  You don’t feel anything for a split second (apart from hearing a nice meaty “smack”)  Then it feels like something is going to come out from your mouth.  I dropped down to one knee and spat out my gum shield unsure if I was going to throw up.  I tried to give myself a count and was up and around not long after 10 seconds maybe.  I got caught a few times during those twelve rounds.  One right hook in particular, caught me flush on the ear and I swear I could hear ringing for the next five seconds.

It’s tiring to put yourself within range of a person’s fists and then punch, block and then move out quickly.  You’re having to do that constantly.

That may not sound fun but you feel really alive facing someone.  Not all sports can give you that kind of a buzz.  Probably because the person opposite you is aiming to punch you!  Maybe I’m trying to defend boxing as a sport here… there’s no question there’s an element of violence but it’s built on a foundation of fairness and respect first.  Perhaps that seperates it from other forms like mixed martial arts.  That’s not to say that there isn’t respect in that sport, of course there is but combat sports like MMA are purely about fighting, where anything goes.

I like sparring.  You get to see first hand where all your training is going and what you still have to work on.  I don’t think it would be healthy to spar twelve rounds more than once a week though.  You don’t want to end up getting “punchy”.  I had a shower afterwards and went to bed happy, I really did.  I was up this morning shadowboxing, trying to work more on my movement.  It’s like that when you enjoy something.

Wrapping my hands