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 😉