The Art and Unexpected Benefits of Boxing

muhammad ali, benefits of boxing

by theslowman

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” // Muhammad Ali

In the winter of 2011, I decided it was time to get off my ass.

I am 5-foot-7 and at the time I weighed around 180 pounds. That’s fat.

I hadn’t worked out in any respectable capacity for a couple years. My wife at the time had started going to the gym daily and she was slimming up and making me look the opposite of Jack Spratt.

That was the shock I needed to get my system going. But what to do? I had always hated exercise — treadmills, lifting weights, exercise machines… if I wasn’t falling asleep from boredom I was always an inch away from injuring myself.

Exercise for its own sake was not something I’ve ever been interested in. I needed to find something effective, efficient, and ultimately useful. And I needed to learn how to do it correctly.

I had always had a fascination with boxing. Muhammad Ali was a hero of mine since I was a kid — for his drive, commitment, gift for words, and, oh yeah, his boxing skills.

“Screw it,” I thought (not my exact words). “Let me try this boxing thing.”

So back in the winter of 2011, I committed to putting my money where my fat mouth was and hired a personal boxing trainer and got my bloated ass in shape.

My goals with boxing training were actually two-fold:

  • Get into decent shape once and for all.
  • Learn how to exercise properly so I could it do by myself.

You know what? It totally worked.

Today, I weigh a more respectable 150 pounds. I have strength. I walk and carry myself with more confidence. I know how to throw a decent punch. I dropped numerous sizes in clothing… I haven’t gotten any taller, but that’s OK.

All that is great and I’m satisfied with a mission accomplished. But there’s more to it. I received a couple bonus benefits from training in and continuing to dabble in boxing (I have no dreams of entering the ring).

These benefits have come in handy in the rest of my life, career, and relationships. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Slow Man (and who doesn’t, right?), I highly recommend getting into boxing. Here’s two things you’ll get out of it and can put to use in your own life:

The Art of Balance

When I first started training, I was eager to start punching shit. But before that could happen, my trainer spent a lot of time focusing on what arguably is the most important thing: stance.

Having balance — weight equally distributed across your body — helps keep whatever comes flying at you from knocking you over, whether it’s a left hook or a text message from your significant other saying, “We need to talk.”

It’s also what helps you launch an effective attack. Both defense and offense stem from the stance. That’s pretty important.

How balanced do you think you are? Like my trainer did to me, I invite you to have someone just give you a gentle push and see how easy it is to fall down when you don’t have the proper stance.

The Art of Relaxation

One of my favorite part of the boxing regime is putting on the gloves and hitting the bag. Even better is when someone else puts on pads and you go through combinations of punches.

There’s a particular sound you get when you square off and strike a good punch. It’s a loud, sharp sound that screams satisfaction. I learned pretty quickly you can never get that sound when you’re too uptight. Contradicting every notion I came into with the sport, in order to get anything out of boxing — and again, LIFE LESSON here — you must be relaxed.

Yes, boxing as a physical activity involves exertion, intense activity, and profuse amounts of sweat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be relaxed while you’re doing it.

What does that mean, really? I take it to being fully aware, in the moment, feeling every part of your body working and flowing, and letting go of all the tension that you’ve built up throughout the day.

If you’re like me dealing with annoying coworkers, rude subway riders or aggressive drivers, bad TV, catastrophes on the evening news, etc., can really build up intense stiffness in your mind and body. But, just like boxing, you can’t strike those satisfying punches if you’re all clenched up, uptight, and too rigid — either mentally or physically.

Relax. Punch. Hear that sound?

If not boxing, get into something. Stop dreaming about it and get outside your comfort zone. I can almost guarantee you’ll step out of the ring with a new perspective on the rest of your life.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Chen

Was wondering when the next installment was coming. Congrats on getting into shape. Boxing has always fascinated me as well and I am across a gym a couple months ago not too far from where I live. I’ve thought about checking it out myself…

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theslowman

Thanks, Dave.

I recommend giving it a shot. I’ve been taking a little break lately, but I have never had so much fun and worked so hard at exercise. I also just love punching shit…

Best,
Gordon

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Tom

Nice article! Almost zen like in many ways with the relax aspects of the training. But are you sure you’re not taller????

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