How the sport is helping me overcome a life void of risk and self-imposed struggle
Boxing is one of the most difficult sports that you can do physically and mentally. Success requires total commitment. It taps into a man’s primal instinct to fight. Every time you step into the ring you run the risk of being knocked out mercilessly by your opponent in front a large crowd including your family and friends, if they want to even watch. Your biggest opponent is yourself and overcoming some of the most difficult emotions we can face.
Fear. It is an emotion that can paralyze us from taking any action or risk. It can keep us waiting for perfect conditions to chase our goals and dreams. It’s that negative voice in your head that tells you “What makes you think you are good enough to achieve that?” Fear is also tool we can channel to our benefit by letting it fuel us to break out of our comfort zones and achieve things we never thought we could accomplish. Fear can make you train harder, stay disciplined, activate a champion mentality, motivation to master your craft and once you overcome that fear you will be able to help others do the same.
Fear is also tool we can channel to our benefit by letting it fuel us to break out of our comfort zones and achieve things we never thought we could accomplish.
Most of my life has been dominated by fear. I have also dealt with untreated depression and anxiety my entire life up until recently. Mental health issues and fear have told me that “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough” in just about every area my entire life. Some areas they have held me back are in my career, relationships, getting new experiences and athletically to name a few. My upbringing was very sheltered and had no risk. I was kept in no-contact Taekwondo, could only play football until high school because I was to small and was able to quit cross country in high school when I thought it was too tough. A life of security and passivity is no way to live significantly. I have always had an interest in boxing but never had the mentorship, belief or courage to get after it…until now. My life has been 35 years of not testing my limits or pushing myself and this sport is changing all of it.
A life of security and passivity is no way to live significantly.
The sport is unique in many ways but makes you a better person when you are committed. You become faster, stronger, healthier, smarter, more confident, and gain a real sense of accomplishment when you reach a milestone. It puts you in a heightened state that is unreachable in most activities. Once you are in the ring, nothing else matters in life for a brief time. All distractions, problems, stress and life pressures go out the window when you step in the ring. The one focus is on defeating your opponent as quick as possible.
I had gone to gyms in the past and done the usual cardio classes but never advanced or learned the proper basics. It took a long time for me to realize that I was not progressing at all. I switched gyms and trainers and have learned more in under a year than the entire time I was going to previous gyms. The environment you train in is critical if you are going to be successful. Boxing is a team sport until you step in the ring with your opponent. You must have the right coaches and boxers around you to push you to your limits and learn from. It is ironic that at a place where we all punch each other in the face can be one of the most supportive places you can be due to pushing each other further than before, earning respect the hard way, and the camaraderie that is built among the gym.
Another realization the past year is that I needed a lot of strength training because I wasn’t strong enough to take the punishment and lacked the needed power to assert myself in the ring. That has also increased my confidence due to the progress I have made. Just over a year ago I had no idea what a deadlift was and now I can lift 250 pounds and building every week. I also had to add much more running and more intense cardio on a regular basis to last rounds in the ring. Eating properly to fuel workouts and kicking bad habits such as excessive drinking became necessary as well. Boxing can set you up with a lifestyle built for success, perseverance and discipline. My generation and younger have been fed lies that you deserve a safe space, microwave speed to success, and being entitled to what others have that you didn’t work for all in the name of equality. That is the exact opposite of what life is and boxing will teach you that.
Boxing can set you up with a lifestyle built for success, perseverance and discipline.
You receive a painful reality check when you think you are in good enough shape and skilled enough to get in the ring to spar. Most first experiences in the ring are not much fun, to put it mildly. After you get over the shock of taking a real punch you begin to realize that 2 or 3 minutes in the ring can feel like an eternity. How will you respond? Do you just try to survive or do you take the fight to your opponent? Hopefully it is the latter and you grow from the experience. I am still at the point where I am doing a lot of growing in the ring but each time I feel myself improving. The difficult times sparring push me to become more skilled and better conditioned. The experiences are often painful but who grows in comfort?
One big reason for engaging in this sport is giving a giant middle finger to my safe and secure past. I gave many reasons in this post about how the sport is impacting my life but I know there will be more to come. There is something deep inside that I feel I need to prove to myself and others, but I don’t know how to put it into words quite yet. I look forward to sharing the ups and downs on my journey to compete and the results with you in the future.