Boxing is not just about winning, and it takes a lot more than just body strength to become a powerful boxer.
A good boxer has excellent stamina to withstand long fights, strong hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes to throw and dodge punches at the right times, and excellent agility to move around the ring and keep their opponents on their toes.
Technique is also important - having the right stance, posture, and punch technique, as well as having the strength and endurance behind your punches - is pivotal to boxing success.
But all this starts outside the ring and depends on how much you train and how willing you are to improve your skills and technique.
So, let's have a look at how you can get well on your way to becoming a good boxer...
Join a boxing club
Whilst it’s fully possible to learn the basics of boxing at home - particularly with the aid of YouTube and a home punch bag - chances are you won’t significantly improve unless you have some professional guidance and someone to spar with.
Joining a boxing club will allow a coach to continually check your technique and correct you if you’re wrong, whereas you can’t do this if you train alone.
It’ll also mean you’ll meet fellow boxers of different levels and experience, and sparring with these will help boost your confidence and will allow you to take your punching technique to the next level.
Try checking the internet, social media, or your local sports facility to find potential boxing clubs or gyms.
Practice on a punching bag
Outside of classes, a punching bag is a great way to build resilience and work on your technique. A heavy-duty punch bag will allow you to practice throwing punches, rather than dodging them, making it great for when you’re just starting out.
It’s also a good way to burn calories and build muscle. Just remember that even when training alone, you should practice the correct technique: exhale as you throw each punch and ensure you’re holding a fist correctly.
After throwing each punch, always return to your fighting stance, and always cover yourself with the non-punching hand.
Practice on a speed bag
A speed bag will help you generate a better rhythm, improve your timing and hand-eye coordination, and of course, will help you build muscle.
If you’re a member of a club or gym, they’re likely to have a speed bag installed, but these can also be brought online and fixed to a wall in your home. The speed bag works by rocking back and forth three times for every one time it’s hit.
A simple exercise is to hit the speed bag with your right hand twice and then with your left hand twice. You can use the front of your fist for the first punch, and the bottom of your fist for the second punch.
A good rule of thumb is to stand at eye-level with the bag directly in front of you, rather than in your usual boxer’s stance. You can build up speed and increase your reps, but to start with, try completing 3 sets of 10 punches.
Work on your stance
Your stance is the foundation of your boxing technique, and shouldn’t be underestimated. Generally, your left foot will lead, and your chin will be down. Your rear hand (usually the right) will guard your chin, and your lead hand is roughly 6 to 8 inches from your chin, with your elbows tucked in.
You should stand slightly sideways so your chest is off-limits to your opponent and your knees should be slightly bent, with your feet a little wider apart than shoulder-width.
If you’re left-handed, you’ll be in what is known as “southpaw” stance instead, which is the opposite of the above, so your right foot and hand will lead.
Work on your defense skills
While throwing punches is important, so is protecting yourself from them. When training, it’s essential to prepare your body for getting hit, as this is what makes it most difficult to keep your guard up in the ring.
To improve your muscular endurance, you can try training with 3 or 5-pound weights around your arms and ankles. You can also prepare yourself for body shots, and build your core strength, by having someone drop a medicine ball on your stomach while you are doing crunches.
Body conditioning is essential for boxers, whether professional or amateur, as if your overall fitness levels are low, you’re not going to last long in the ring.
You can improve your general fitness and cardiovascular endurance by running several times a week for 10-20 minutes at a time, and you can gradually increase the distance, and frequency, of your runs as you get fitter.
Jumping rope is also very popular among boxers as it improves agility. When you’re starting out in boxing, you can begin by jumping rope for 20 seconds without tripping and gradually build this up until you can jump rope for 1, 2, or 3-minute rounds without stopping.
Then, when you’re good enough, you can do multiple rounds with a 30-60 second break between each round.
You should also work on your upper body strength to pack power into your punches. Don’t neglect the rest of your body though: do lunges, squats, and mountain climbers to build leg strength, planks, and crunches for your core, and pull-ups, push-ups, and the chest/shoulder press to build upper body strength.
If you work on all of the above, you’re sure to see a significant improvement in your overall boxing performance.
What you do outside of the ring will soon translate to your performance inside the ring, so be sure to stick to regular training and a frequent fitness regime to ensure you’re constantly improving.
It’s worth bearing in mind that you won’t become a good boxer overnight, and this will take hours of hard work, determination, and monotonous repetition during practice, but if you’re willing to put the effort in, you’ll definitely start seeing results in the ring.