Unboxing Boxing

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This is a guest post written by Sarah Johansson

British boxing has become less exciting for fight fans in recent years, with the retirement of both Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe and the decline of Amir Khan. However, the Olympics brought with it an upsurge of interest for the sport, and 2012 marked the first inclusion of women’s boxing in the games. Does this mean that boxing is on the up?

I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan: it’s always been too violent for me. Maybe I’m a big old wuss, but I like sports where people are nice to each other. Not only have I not liked it, I’ve dismissed it with a passion, usually citing words like ‘barbaric’, ‘primitive’ or just ‘stupid’. So imagine my horror when I was forced to sit through a Prizefighter tournament recently. I say forced, but when you’re sharing a small flat with an obsessed boxing fan, it’s pretty difficult not to absorb the sweaty aggression emitted from the screen.

Yet I was fascinated, which leads me to preconception no. 1 about boxing: it’s all about the aggression. Sure, professional boxing is scored based on the most effective punches, style, aggression and knockdowns. Amateur boxing, however, is judged by landing the most clean punches on the target area (a glorified game of tag, if you will). This, ironically, didn’t mean much to me until I had a go at Fight Night on Xbox.

Several hours and two blood blisters later, I came to the realisation that: (a) boxing requires some serious skill and technique, and (b) I was definitely capable of letting out a whole lot of aggression myself. So I’ve started to view amateur boxing in a different light: rather than focusing on the violence, I’ve come to admire the amount of dedication and discipline required, which reaches a level that few other sports could hope to equal. Lack of funding usually means having to work normal day jobs too, trying to fit in exercise and fights whenever there is time.

That was the case for Nicola Adams who worked as a builder and Corrie extra before taking home the first female Olympic gold medal in the flyweight class last year. Before 2009, funding wasn’t readily available for female boxers, and now, after the five-medal success in London, funding and opportunities are growing exponentially and universities are endorsing the sport to a much greater extent.

This is set to provide a whole new environment for a sport that is becoming more and more popular. Some of Britain’s ‘flagship’ athletes are now amateur boxers, which lights a torch for a bright future in Britain’s professional boxing game. This transition is already in motion now with Olympian Anthony Ogogo recently turning pro.

While I admit my previous dismissal of the sport probably involved very loaded words for someone who professes they couldn’t care less for it, I guess that’s what boxing does to people; it stirs and fascinates, repulses and excites. And even though I’m struggling with some conflicting emotions about boxing, you can’t deny the obvious fitness benefits. A boxer at their peak easily ranks among the fittest athletes in the world.

Boxing exercise is guaranteed to take you to the next level in your exercise regime, regardless of whether you train or compete in a different discipline. And if you want to get fit, focused and fighting, put on the gloves and try a boxing-fitness class. They provide non-contact cardiovascular workouts with boxing-style exercise, which perfectly suits those of us who want to get toned and gain physical and mental strength – but who might want to keep the violence at a safe distance.

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About Nick in Nets

Senior editor, Bloomsbury Sport & Fitness * Goalkeeper, Red Star White City * Scrabble nut
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