Photo credit: Virgil Barrow
Boxing is the most replicated, studied, and quoted sport I know. The sport’s stories of great champions—real and fictitious—are characterized in movies, theatre, music and art. Right now across major metropolis cities in North America boxing training has become trendy (yet again) with boxing infused and inspired fitness classes. People are taking in the boxing culture, replicating the movements, and even speaking the language, but do they really know why they are punching like Rocky and rhyming like Ali at their local #Boxfit gym?
There is a knowledge gap between boxing as a professional sport and boxing as an activity simply to be replicated for it’s amazing health benefits. To bridge this gap, fans of the sport as fitness would need to appreciate and educate themselves on what boxing athletes do, why they do it and how.
In all my 20 plus years involved in boxing, teaching for fitness and at one point training at the Professional level (and now active as a professional ring announcer), I see both ends of the spectrum, and one observation remains consistent: people are curious about the art of boxing and want to understand it better. Consequently, boxers themselves want to be better understood and appreciated for what they put into it. The great news is that this fitness craze comes at a time when professional boxing matches and shows are at an all time high, particularly in Ontario.
In 2013 there were five Professional fight shows sanctioned by the Ontario Athletic Commission. This number has steadily increased over the last 6 years with 19 shows in 2018, and 17 shows to date for 2019 with at least five more fight cards projected before the end of the year, according to BoxRec.
One of the main reasons for this spike in fight shows is that new Athletic Commissioner Luke Kotyk in power, who is supporting the growth of the sport in Ontario. With the increased demand in shows also means an increased demand in promoters to continue showcasing local talent and attracting international attention and fighters coming into Canada for these opportunities through promoters like United Boxing Promotions in Brampton, Three Lions Promotions out of Hamilton, Lee Baxter Promotions out of Toronto and CCC Promotions out of Peterborough.
Over and over again, I see all the amazing aspects and benefits of boxing training and all the opportunities that the sport has provided and continues to provide these athletes, their teams, families and communities even raising massive amounts of funds for charity!
Let’s look at the Fight to End Cancer for example, founded in 2011 by Jennifer Huggins, which to date has donated over 1.5 million dollars, in support of cancer research, with proceeds going directly to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. The result is a win-win evening of sport entertainment and competition while raising awareness for a cause.
Year after year I hear people say boxing saved my life—saved them from addiction, from a criminal mindset, from being bullied, from financial despair, from extremely low self esteem, from a speech impediment, from advanced Parkinson’s symptoms, from suicidal thoughts….and the list goes on.
There is a wisdom found in boxing, psychology, life lessons, inspiration, self-empowerment and a history from which we can learn about ourselves, our human spirit, our tendencies, the nature of conflict and combat, the involvement of politics with sport and the meaning behind rules of engagement.
The sport itself is very sensational. It’s very visual and dramatic. The intention of hitting another human for sport is completely unfathomable for some. But for just as many of those who don’t understand it, there are probably more of those who continue to want it on some primal level. It’s the nature of the beast, that is us humans who participate in it and those who pay to watch it. What is it about society, the human condition and the drama surrounding the action that makes people want to fight or watch in the first place?
Finally, training can be a catalyst for the incredible health benefits enjoyed by so many around the world by working through dexterity requirements, concentration, focus, coordination, improved cardiovascular health as a result which increases muscle tone and a decrease in bad cholesterol levels.
Regardless of the general public’s interest, boxing will continue business as usual. One thing is for sure, boxing as a sport and fitness activity deserves way more credit for how it contributes to society. Boxers themselves deserve way more positive attention for their inspiring stories, amazing accomplishments and incredible ability to inspire us all at a human level.
So here is my suggestion: get out to your local boxing gym and take a lesson. Attend a fight show and support the athlete’s by showing up.
Don’t knock it out until you try it, you might just love it.