By Mark Elezaj
I remember when I first stepped inside a boxing gym, the atmosphere was mesmerizing, I felt like I walked through a portal and entered another dimension. Everything from the smell of the place to the noises, the fighting and the discipline had me in awe. I remember walking up to the gentleman they called “The Coach” and asking him who I needed to speak with regarding some training. He looked at me with a death stare and shouted “Get In Your Stance!” I said alright, got into an orthodox stance and said now what? He put his left hand up and shouted “ONE, TWO, COME ON I DO NOT HAVE ALL DAY!” and I stood there and threw the good old “One Two.” I’m not going to bore you with the small details but needless to say “The Coach” or as I called him. Mr. Maynard, taught me the basics of boxing. He showed me the skills needed to protect myself and move forward. He showed me the difference between a fighter and a boxer and I thank him as well as all those individuals involved inside that gym for their inputs and their knowledge.
So what was I taught? Well that’s easy, hit and try not to get hit, move and try not to get moved while staying alert and controlling the atmosphere. Now for some, boxing is a way of life and the training is the lifestyle they chose while for others it’s a way to have a difficult yet fun workout where you can utilize every muscle in your body and build stamina to help make you feel the best you have ever felt in your life.
I’m going to tell you what I was taught, it was an amazing workout and maybe you can find it useful.
When people first start off, many are self-conscious because it’s new to them and they feel stupid because they’ve never done it before. But don’t. If you are training in a boxing gym, trust me when I tell you this, nobody is going to care. You’re not the first beginner to walk inside the gym and you will not be the last. Actually, it becomes addicting and you’ll see yourself throwing combinations at home, in the shower, on the phone etc. The funny thing is, if you’re doing something wrong, the people in the gym will give you pointers on proper techniques and how to put punches together.
Start off by doing at least three rounds of shadow boxing, three minutes long with a minute break in between. Imagine that there’s an opponent in front of you and you are about to have a fight. Throw the jab, follow with the straight and come back with a hook. Step to the side, move your head and reset.
Work on these punches while shadow boxing.
(Orthodox- for south paw fighters switch)
1 = jab
2 = right hand
3 = left hook
4 = right hook (or overhand right)
5 = left uppercut
6 = right uppercut
THE HEAVY BAG
Now you’re all warmed up and feeling good. You are comfortable with your punches and feel like a pro. You now step in front of the heavy bag and are ready to go. The bell sounds and you’re off! Understand this, EVERY FIGHTER IN EVERY GYM has done what you are about to do. You want to continue where you left off with your shadow boxing.
Start off (again) by doing three rounds on the bag. As your stamina and strength get better you will want to increasing the amount of rounds and try to hit the bag like you hate it. As your throwing your punches, work on specific combinations, your hand speed, power and footwork. Remember the bag doesn’t hit back so there’s no defense being practiced here, strictly punches and movements.
Try to include at least one or two days of mitt work, three rounds long, with your trainer. He or she will help improve your technique while letting you know what you’re doing wrong. This workout also improves your accuracy and defense. A good trainer will hit you back with the pads when you drop your hands so be prepared. Follow the instruction of the trainer and enjoy.
The speed bag is a great way to improve your speed with your punches. More importantly, it will help with your timing and coordination. But DO NOT get frustrated, you will get better the more you practice. Start off by doing two rounds on the speed bag. In the beginning you will be focused on hitting the bag more than twice in a row, without losing the rhythm, but as you get a better understanding , it’s going to become a great way to work those arms, shoulders and timing!
Sparring is a must. You want to learn how to hit a real moving target that hits back. You want to learn how to take a punch and work on your defense. Sparring is a great way to get to apply what you’ve been taught. (Make sure you and your sparring partner both have the appropriate equipment- headgear, a mouth piece, a cup and 14- to 16-ounce boxing gloves.)
Even more importantly, make sure that you communicate what level of sparring you are committed to doing. YOU’RE NOT MIKE TYSON, DO NOT PRETEND TO BE!
I’m the beginning, try to get two rounds of light sparring, two times a week, in. Utilize your combinations, head and foot work while working against your sparring partner. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Finish off your workout by jumping rope for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help improve your footwork and your coordination. PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE ROCKY BALBOA IN THE BEGINNING! As you get better at jumping rope, try mixing it up by learning how to do double unders and short burst of speed on the rope.
(Blurry Pic of (Left to Right) of myself, Coach Maynard and Coach Noelle)
This was the program I was taught in the beginning of my training sessions. I started at three times a week, Monday’s, Wednesdays and Fridays, and moved it up to four times once I got more comfortable. It’s not easy, it’s excruciating at times. You will feel your muscles burn and you will hate the gym at first but you will love the end result, trust me!
~The Fighting Voice~