Boxing has been a popular sport, literally for centuries and over recent decades, its popularity has grown massively, thanks to TV coverage of boxing matches and films celebrating boxing and boxers (like Raging Bull, Ali and, of course, Rocky and its various sequels and spin-offs).
Good boxers have long been able to earn a decent living for themselves, these days; they can become celebrities and seamlessly cross over into other professions when they decide to call time on competing.
Jack Dempsey was arguably the first great boxer to become a respected actor; Mickey Rourke and Anthony Quinn were also recognised as professional boxers and then went on to become respected actors.
Of course, by definition, only a few make it to the very top, but the good news is that if you do love boxing and are prepared to put in the time and training, there are plenty of opportunities for you to turn your passion into an income. Coaching is one obvious example of this as is personal fitness training.
Alternatively, you might just prefer to keep boxing as a fun and sociable hobby, which has huge benefits for your physical fitness as well as your mental and emotional well-being and therefore your health in general.
The physical benefits of boxing training
Boxing is one of the best all-around workouts there is, combining cardio and muscular exercises for the whole body. Remember as well as using your upper body to punch (and defend), your lower body needs to keep you moving (literally) so it is harder for your opponents to land punches on you.
The mental benefits of boxing training
If you do get into actual fight training, you’ll find it mentally challenging too and will learn a lot about situational awareness and strategy which you can apply to other situations. It’s great for stress relief and if you join a boxing club, you’ll have all the social benefits this brings with it.
How To Start Boxing
Just join a boxing club. Seriously, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Boxing has long since cast off its image of being just for young, working-class men and is now one of the most inclusive sports around.
These days, the range of participants covers all ages and social backgrounds, women are perfectly welcome and there are even classes and competitions for people with physical disabilities.
What’s more, it’s absolutely fine if you don’t want to participate in actual competitive fights, in fact it’s highly likely that many of the people who currently participate in boxing have little to no intention of ever stepping into a ring and boxing competitively.
Some may even decide to pass on sparring (practising combat skills with an opponent without actually trying to land serious punches).
Boxing clubs near me
The massive popularity of boxing means that there are clubs all around the country (and indeed the world) and if you’ve already decided you want to join one, you can use a Google search as well as checking the various links below to find your nearest club(s).
If, however, you’re still a bit unsure about whether or not boxing is for you or are wondering if you would actually benefit from joining a club, then please read on and we’ll do our best to tell you what you need to know to make an informed decision.
One great untapped source is Facebook, clubs often have there own Facebook page and what better way to look at the club, its images and the community and members of it? Just remember to have an open mind about the perceived image Facebook gives off and know the club may be different in reality
What Should You Consider Before You Start Boxing?
Just to be clear, you can join a boxing club at any level of fitness and you’ll be perfectly welcome the same is true in regard to the amount of money in your pocket. If, however, you’re planning on joining a boxing club with the intention of getting stuck straight into training for competitive fighting, then you need to be realistic about the sort of fitness level you’ll require.
This is high.
Although a boxing gym is a great place to get fit, making sure you have a reasonable level prior might be an ideas. If you’ve ever seen a boxing match on TV, you’ll have noticed that at the end of it, the participants are absolutely covered in sweat and these are professionals at the absolute peak of fitness.
Obviously, standards are lower for amateurs, but if you actually do step into a boxing ring for a competitive fight, you’ll very quickly discover for yourself that in the real world, fighting for a total of 6 minutes (three rounds of two minutes each) is a whole lot more demanding than it sounds on paper.
In fact, it’s at least twice as demanding as sparring (which, as you will soon learn, is physically taxing in itself). Hence, when it comes to determining whether or not you are actually fit enough to fight, boxing clubs generally work on the rule of thumb that you should be able to spar for twice as long as you will need to box (so 12 minutes, divided into 6 rounds of two minutes each).
For the sake of completeness, this means sparring with a competent amateur rather than a complete beginner.
If you’re looking to test yourself, to see if you’re likely to be able to manage this, then a reasonable point of comparison would be that you can run 3 to 5 miles and then do 50 pushups and still be able to get up and walk away afterwards.
You’ll also need to be able to punch a heavy bag continuously for at least 15 minutes before a coach will think about letting you loose in a ring.
For the record, we’d like to stress that this is all in addition to the fighting and strategy skills you will learn at your boxing club and which will be essential in the ring. We said boxing was a challenging sport.
Budget And Equipment
We'll talk about this a bit more later but in essence this is the great thing about boxing, think of the Rocky movie and the 'rags to riches' stories of almost all boxers.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are famous for coming from nothing. Other than a gym bag, a towel and some suitable shorts and vest you really do not need much.
You'll find that most clubs provide gloves, although it might be an idea, even for sanitary sake to get a pair of your own, but even then a starter pair may only cost £20.
Any other equipment you get further down the line can come once you are more invested in the sport but at a starting point you don't need anything other than what you have to go to a regular gym
Why boxing is an effective choice for keeping fit
These days, when people look at choosing an activity for overall fitness, there are generally three key considerations which influence their choice.
These are: cost effectiveness, time effectiveness and space effectiveness. Boxing hits the sweet spot on all of these counts.
Unlike a lot of sports, you don’t have to invest a lot of money in either buying or hiring specialist equipment before you can realistically decide whether or not the activity is for you.
Quite the opposite, you’re probably not likely to need any equipment immediately and if you plan to do all your training in your boxing club and not actually compete, then you may not need any equipment at all.
That said, many people find it convenient to have at least some equipment at home, so they have the option to continue to train if they’re unable to make it to the club gym.
At a very basic level, a skipping rope and floor mat will enable you to work on your fitness, which is essential for boxing.
Then you could add a light bag and/or a heavy bag to complete your training options.
Basically, a light bag is to develop your skills and a heavy bag is to develop your strength. The good news is that the terms relate to weight rather than size so while you can certainly buy large bags, if you’re looking for something to fit in a smaller space you should have plenty of options.
You need protective gloves to use bags, but these are both affordable and easy to store.
For many people, time is their most precious resource and finding it is their biggest challenge when it comes to maintaining their fitness levels.
There are two reasons why boxing training is a winner here.
The first is that the popularity of boxing means that there is a huge number of boxing clubs spread across the country and hence unless you live somewhere which is genuinely in the middle of nowhere, you have a very good chance of finding one close to your home and/or work and hence removing the need to travel to put in your training.
Secondly, boxing training is a high-intensity exercise, which really works the whole body and combines cardio with muscle training for both the upper and lower body.
Many of the most famous names in boxing were (and indeed still are) inner-city people and there is a good reason for this.
The fact that boxing needs minimal equipment means that it needs minimal space and therefore it has always flourished in the inner cities where there simply isn’t the room for track and field sports to be practiced by a significant number of people.
Plus, boxing can be practiced both indoors and outdoors, which again makes for more options when it comes to using space effectively.
It also helps to keep costs down since it means that boxing clubs can be squeezed into places which would just be ignored by standard gyms and clubs for many other types of sports (and indeed businesses in general).
Hence, in terms of all around value (for money, time and space), it really would be a challenge to find any sport which can offer as much as boxing training.
It’s also fair to say that the history behind boxing and the nature of the sport means that boxing clubs are very welcoming and supportive places, so you can get all the social benefits of gyms and other kinds of sporting clubs at a much lower cost.
Aptitudes you’ll develop through boxing training
There are three key aptitudes you’ll develop through any form of boxing training, plus another two you pick up if you choose to fight competitively.
The reason why boxing is such a physically demanding sport is because it uses just about every muscle you have to its maximum ability and there are very few sports of which this can be said.
In boxing, your upper body is what allows you to keep your opponent occupied dealing with your punches and also provides your defense against your opponents punches.
Your lower body is what keeps you moving, thus being both a threat to your opponent and able to get out of your opponent’s way yourself.
Bluntly speaking, if you go into a boxing ring lacking endurance (at least as compared to your opponent) then you are basically asking for trouble.
There are two kinds of exercises many boxers use above all others to develop their endurance and they are running and jumping rope, both of which can be easily done in small spaces.
We love outdoor running, most of the year, but unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area which has lots of running trails, then sadly it’s not necessarily the most practical option because it means you’re either sharing pavement space with pedestrians or sharing road space with traffic and neither set of people is necessarily going to be happy about the fact and that’s before you get into the safety issues involved in sharing a space with a lot of people who are moving at a very different speed to you.
For regular exercise, therefore, indoor running has a lot in its favor, which is why gyms tend to be full of treadmills and treadmills tend to be in continuous use and often with queues waiting to use them.
Hence if you’re thinking about joining a gym mainly for access to a treadmill, then you might be better off just buying a treadmill.
There are plenty of quality treadmills at reasonable prices and with folding decks, which means they only take up extensive floor space when you are actually using them.
Alternatively, you could consider just plain old running on the spot, it doesn’t give you all the different options treadmills do (for example to adjust the incline) but it’ll certainly help to get up your endurance without any effort at all.
You may be surprised to learn, that skipping can also be done indoors.
What you need is a cordless jump rope (sometimes advertised as a cordless skipping rope). This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it does actually work.
Basically you get weighted handles usually with some sort of very short rope to give you the feeling that you are actually jumping rope, even though you are actually just jumping.
You then use these exactly as you would a normal jump rope, except that you can use it indoors without having to worry about finding enough space to be sure you won’t send the contents of the room flying about the place.
Obviously, these cordless ropes cost a bit more than regular jump ropes, but they’re still very affordable.
Jumping rope is a great exercise for anyone, but particularly for people undertaking boxing training because it works both the upper and lower body and also improves coordination.
Plus it helps you to develop lightness and “bounce”, which will be a great help if you do decide to go into the ring.
It’s also a great stress reliever.
At a fundamental level boxing basically works as follows.
You try to hit your opponent, they try to get of the way, they try to hit you, you try to get out of their way.
If your opponent’s faster at landing punches than you, then you’re going to be taking many more punches from them than they are from you, which is an obvious problem.
Likewise if they can just keep moving more quickly than you, you’re going to find it very hard to hit them, at which point the match becomes a question of endurance.
Can you hold out for them to tire so you can actually start landing some punches, or are you going to be the one to tire first, leaving yourself open to their attack?
We mentioned earlier that jumping rope was a great exercise for developing endurance.
It’s also a great exercise for developing speed in your legs.
For your upper body, regular training on a light ball will help you to develop the speed you need in your arms and shoulders.
People new to boxing often misunderstand what power means in boxing terms.
Power does not mean the ability to deliver knockout punches.
Knockout punches may look great on TV, but if you pay close attention, you’ll discover that they’re far more likely to feature in films than in pro boxing matches although they are more common in amateur ones.
The reason for this is that in pro boxing matches, the participants generally have near-identical levels of fitness (and will be similar weights), which means that the contest is largely decided on skill and will often come down to small edges, which make the difference between winning and coming second.
Amateurs, by contrast, have to fit in training around other commitments, which means that contests can involve people with very different levels of fitness and hence make it more likely that one will tire and end up being knocked out, even if they, theoretically, have a higher level of technical skill.
In other words, to be perfectly blunt, a participant would need to have a massive edge in terms of skills to compensate for a fairly small difference in fitness.
In boxing terms, what power means is the ability to deliver the right punch in the right way, which generally involves a degree of explosive strength.
Ideally you always want to be the one doing the attacking, but your opponent is going to have the same idea, so realistically you’re going to need to know how to defend yourself as well.
You’re also going to need to have the physical strength to keep on blocking, punch after punch, round after round, which means you need endurance, lots of it.
Speed helps too, because it’s massively easier to hit a static target than one which is moving and the quicker it moves the harder it is to hit.
Unconscious competence in your mental and physical skills
The path to learning usually goes as follows:
- Unconscious incompetence (you know what boxing is but you’ve never given any thought as to what it actually involves).
- Conscious incompetence (you have a good idea of what’s involved in boxing, but you don’t really know how to go about doing it yourself).
- Conscious competence (you can now do it, but you need to think about it).
- Unconscious competence (you just do it).
You need to be clearly at level 4 before you step into the ring.
In fact, you not only need to be able to perform standard boxing moves without even thinking about it, but you need to understand why you perform each move so you can adjust your strategy as you fight.
This is a skill which comes with practice and the more fights you have the better you will get, but you need to have at least a basic grasp of strategy before your first competitive bout.
Just to be absolutely clear, when we’re talking about unconscious competence, we’re talking about your actual fighting skills, not your level of fitness.
We’ve mentioned this before and we’d like to underline it again here, you can have as many fighting skills as you like, but unless you have the fitness to get through a fight without slowing or tiring, you are likely to wind up the loser!
How To Start Boxing - Conclusion
We never said boxing was easy, in fact we’ve tried to make it clear to you just how physically and mentally demanding it is.
We do, however, passionately believe that boxing is one of the most rewarding sports there is.
If you do make it to the top, the financial rewards are bigger than ever before, but even if you don’t, there are still plenty of opportunities to turn your skills into income, if you wish.
Many people, however, simply enjoy boxing as a way to keep fit and make new friends at the same time and these people are just as welcome at boxing clubs as future world champions.