Throughout the history of boxing there have been standout fighters who have managed to make this violent craft look like a thing of beauty. These boxers possessed an aptitude and skill level so dominant it sometimes masked the brutality of their profession. Mohammad Ali used to have it. So did Sugar Ray Robinson. And of our time Floyd Mayweather has it. But at its essence boxing is a brutal sport; they don’t call it the hurt business for nothing.
A boxer can’t afford to cut corners in training. He or she can’t enter the ring anything other than fully prepared or they will be found out. And the consequences of being found out in this sport can be career ending. Or worse. ‘The ring can be a lonely place’ is a boxing cliché yet such a truism. There are only four corners to hide in and at some point the truth will find you.
Last night I was served a reminder of why you must take this sport seriously. In professional boxing, unlike other sports, you can’t just really dust yourself down at the end of the day and hope for a better performance next time. The consequences of a bad day in the office can be life threatening so you must always be on your game.
I’m not ashamed to say that my boxing career has been limited. Like many I started out in the sport in the pursuit of fitness. But I soon got the bug and the taste for something more. Spurred on by the encouragement from my coaches and an inner desire to answer questions of myself I eventually stepped inside the ropes. With four fights to my name (two wins and two losses) my record may not look all that impressive. But being a part-time boxer (if there can be such a thing) I’m very satisfied. Even from those four fights I’ve learned so much. From having to pick myself off the floor in my second bout and coming back to lose a very closely contested decision to battle the nerves of fighting in front of a large crowd at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace- I am proud with what I’ve achieved.
I was last back in the ring in March, taking part in my first fight in the Queensbury Boxing League. The league was launched in 2010 and offers British based boxers a platform to compete on. The league has gone form strength to strength attracting a substantial following by offering fairly matched, competitive fights fought at high pace. My debut resulted in a second round T.K.O of my opponent, and with the bouts televised on Eurosport and a large crowd in attendance it made for a memorable experience.
But as a result of a long-standing hand injury I haven’t stepped foot in the ring since March. Until last night that was. The time out of the ring has been frustrating. I’m sure I’m not alone in seeing the boxing gym as a haven to get away from life’s problems. Somewhere where you can focus your attention and sweat out the frustration. And of course there’s the banter.
So with my hand healed I thought I’d throw myself in at the deep end by challenging top quality amateur boxer, Jordan Grannum, to three threes. Things started off okay, but as we approached the end of the second round all I could hear was my coach bellowing: ‘Get off the ropes! Move your feet! Keep your hands up!’ They were the right instructions to give; I just didn’t have the fitness to carry them out. As we entered the third round Grannum could see I was flagging. Every jab I threw was being countered, my hands were around my waist and my offence was being picked off and countered by the much sharper and fitter man sharing the ring with me.
Before long he saw an opening and pounced, rattling off some sharp combinations before dropping a straight right down the pipe that brought proceedings to a close. Those few minutes in the ring were enough to highlight what a dangerous place the ring is when you don’t take the sport seriously. Props to my sparring partner, Jordan Grannum, who is looking in fantastic shape for the new season. For me it’s another lesson learned.