I recently attended the Friday night and Saturday morning sparring sessions to check out September’s Contenders – it was a tale of two sessions. Friday night Ben V encouraged the guys to picture their fights, when they shadow box to go through their game plan…”these are your rehearsals, “ he shouted. He was keen for them to go through the rounds at a high intensity but at a relaxed pace – essentially clock up the rounds but learn something from each – think and take your time.
Ben’s sessions should be taped and made for radio – if he were a commentator he’d make a bad fight entertaining. He was clear from the outset what he expected from his fighters and as he entered the gym with everyone standing around chatting he made it clear from the off who was boss. I learned several lessons that weekend. Lesson one; once your wraps are on start warming up! The boy’s reward for hanging round was some hardcore cardio – then it was time to knuckle down.
As Asif moved Phil nicely around the ring Ben shouts, “You’re throwing punches from last week…. he can see them coming.” Kay was boxing with Olly, fast and furious in and out – Kay was on target to the body as Olly doled out what’s become his signature Chuck shot. In chimes Ben, “it’s not a fight, it’s boxing now relax”. Greg went a round with Ed – just the one as he was floored by what I first thought was a body shot. But then I saw Greg shuffle out of the ring and realised that it was much lower than that! Lesson two; boxers wear your boxes!
Saturday morning was different – it was time to enter the shark tank with Paul. On hearing that phrase, my first instinct was to run but then I remembered – I’m not training, I’m just watching…phew! For those of you, who have not had the pleasure of Paul’s shark tank, let me explain…. it’s designed to give you a bad experience – the worst! But when you come out the other end you’ll hopefully be a better fighter for it. It’s designed to mimic the pressure you could face on fight night and to test your cardio – have you got enough in the tank to last the rounds? I’m happy to report that our Contenders do – the most important thing at this stage is to practice their sparring.
So back to the shark tank. Although the class was mixed – it was only the Contenders invited into the shark tank. They would each fight 3 x 2 min rounds but in each round with a new partner. The other boxers on Saturday morning were the pin up boys from MMA – not so much boxers on Saturday, more bullies. (And I say that with love, as it was needed for the Contenders to get the full experience!)
Asif was first up and as he was put through his paces in each round, Paul coached from the sides. Ben V went nice and steady – bursts of pressure but on the whole respectful. Round two with Ed and Asif’s toughest round – throughout he was told to breath, relax, focus and suck it up. Ed did not let up and although at times it was a scramble, Asif did well. Paul encouraged him to use his minute’s break to re-group, suck in some air and go for broke in his final round with Jay. Although much taller than Jay, Asif went for a body shot and floored Jay – game over. Lesson three; don’t be a face hunter – the body’s a bigger target – aim for it.
Phil, Jay and Ian all had similar experiences – each under differing sorts of pressure in each round but they held it together and can take comfort in the fact they all have the cardio. Paul offered some advice re-emphasising Ben’s comments from the previous night, “now is the time to start mentally preparing – today was a head’s up of what to expect and you can gain some confidence that you got through it.”
So while some of us have eased off our training during the summer months, our Contenders have been taking extra sessions – swapping Friday night beers for Friday night boxing and instead of catching extra zzzzzzz on a Saturday morning they’ve been catching the odd left hook or two.
Thursday September 2nd is our next Contender night – when our boxing buddies become brave hearts – they’ve put in the effort and now it’s our turn. All we have to do is to show up and spur them on – the rest is left to them.
16th August 2010
Boxing Clinic , Boxing In London ( Beginners – Intermediate – Advanced )