When am I Ready!
How do you know when you’re ready to participate in your first amateur boxing competition? Like other sports we play, there is a process that must be followed prior to “playing the game!” Keep in mind, that a new boxer can range anywhere from 8 to 48 years of age, give or take. It is not unusual for someone much older than a teenager to step into the ring for the first time.
The foundation must first be laid with the fundamentals of the “sweet science” prior to competition. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more depending on the boxer’s dedication, cooperation and natural ability to learn.
The amateur boxer must also understand that he/she does NOT have to be perfect going into their first competition. New fighters typically wait much longer than what is necessary before entering the ring for the first time. This is a huge mistake! If perfection is what your waiting for, then that first ring experience will never happen! Nobody is perfect and nobody will ever be perfect at any level!
Nerves are good!
You will be extremely nervous the day of the fight. That’s normal. If a fighter tells me that they don’t feel a little “queasy” prior to fight time, they are probably not telling the truth. Nerves are a good sign to a coach.
Measuring Your Progress
That first amateur boxing experience is a measuring stick of sorts. It tells the fighter which parts of their game need the most emphasis in training. If we never compete, how can we possibly ever know what part of our game needs the most work?
That first amateur boxing match is equivalent to nearly 6 months of gym time. Yes! You got it. A half of a year’s worth of training all after just one fight! The bottom line being you must compete to become a skillful competitor at a combat sport like boxing. When a new fighter returns to the gym following their first boxing match, it’s a magical and delightful experience. Regardless the outcome, the skill level has progressed to a newfound state. Training emphasis is now much clearer, and workouts become more productive.
Respect The Sport
A quality boxing gym understands the physical and emotional measures which must be taken to prepare a new boxer for competition. Our duty as coaches is to first teach the student to respect the art of boxing. and it’s emotions. Boxing takes place in a controlled environment called the gym. It is not to be used as a “street sport.”
Physical and Emotional Preparation
Next, training should happen through small incremental progressions. This cannot be stressed enough. Therefore, we have various levels of contact sparring which are designed to acclimate the young fighter to “boxing situations.” The training moves forward accordingly. It is the coaches responsibility to prepare the fighter for the emotional roller coaster that amateur boxing presents. If anyone reading this article has participated in competitive amateur boxing, you will understand exactly what I am speaking of! In this sport, preparation goes well beyond offense, defense and physical conditioning. The emotional aspect of competition must be considered along with all other parts of training and guess what? It’s o.k. to be nervous! As a coach, if my fighter doesn’t have a funny feeling in their stomach prior to the big fight and during sparring training sessions then I’m concerned. It’s only natural to have these nerves.
How Safe Is Amateur Boxing?
It may sound peculiar to most, but amateur boxing, as a whole, is safer than many contact sports we allow our children to play! The objectives of boxing are very clear, and most of the contact occurs in the view of the participant unlike football, soccer and lacrosse. In these sports the focus cannot always be defense oriented. In boxing, defense and offense happen simultaneously. The amateur boxer is well protected with equipment, proper training, the referee, and the rules of the sport.
Who Decides When Your Ready!
So, who decides when that first boxing competition should take place? Your coach will have a large influence on when that time is right. The ultimate decision though, comes from the very person that’s going to be climbing through the ropes and into a boxing ring. You are the one that sacrificed the countless hours in the gym and maintained proper discipline in other areas so that you could make yourself as fit as possible in time for that big moment. It’s ok to have a little doubt when making this decision. Having a fear of the unknown is not uncommon and can fuel your motivation.
Just remember one thing along the way, you don’t have to be perfect prior to your first boxing competition. If you wait for perfection, the opportunity will pass!