This weekend, coach Jen and I worked in a couple corners at the professional boxing show, Brawl at Harmony Hall I love the environment that these guys create. All ages are welcome, so our local amateurs get to see their teammates take on the task of competing in the professional ranks. Nathaniel and Keith, the promoters work their tails off to give our Northwest beginning pros a chance to get started in a very unforgiving career.
This is the second time I’ve cornered for someone I just met and it is a completely different experience. I don’t have all the hours of sweat and discomfort built up. I don’t have earned trust and they have not earned mine. We are in the fire together, brand new and uncertain. I feel like my most important job is keeping them as calm and aware of being in the moment as possible. I am forced to keep my words to a minimum because they aren’t used to my style of language and most likely won’t know what I mean if I ask them to tow the line with their back foot or any other phrase my boxers are used to. I’ve never held mitts for them and I am not in sync with their timing or anything they’ve practiced, so I have to try and keep things very simple for both our sakes. Basically I’m trying to build as much of a relationship of trust in about 1 hour so I can have a shot at helping them figure out the proper adjustments to make within those 3 minutes of fighting and the 1 minute break. So far, I’ve not experienced anything past the first round, but I’m game for when it happens.
I’m thankful for this experience because it really shows me where I over coach and over explain with my own boxers. Because of working with someone brand new in an on the spot situation, I have to be more efficient, succinct, calm and focused. I want more of this in my daily coaching.
It is easy to make the fight about oneself. The adrenaline hits you, it reminds you of being in there. Sometimes you miss it and sometimes you lament being here vs. there. The crowd spills their energy unconfined into the atmosphere and you have to walk through it, contain it and coach without getting the release of punching or anything physical for that matter. You have your own nerves plus your corner team and the fighter’s to manage. You are in hyper aware mode and pick up every little body cue of everyone in the room and you have to stay on point with your fighter’s preparation. It’s all very surreal at times and it’s at this point more than ever that you are to be a mere page turner…..not as noticeable as the fighter…….important and key to the performance but in the background.
Each performance opportunity I get, I work to improve as many aspects as I can. I welcome my failures and observe them so that I may make my own adjustments. This is a huge part of training to me and I’m working diligently to pass this type of thinking on to my fighters. If we cannot void judgment from our performances and strictly look at them openly whether we perform well or not, we will not grow and improve. I notice that I improve in one area and at the same time, another gap is exposed.
Boxing training and competition are my most favorite environments to be in when I’m not in nature. They make the most sense. Like nature, boxing is unforgiving and beautiful. You know right where you stand and mistakes are costly. You have to be on point to survive and thrive. You get to train and test over and over and grow in and out of the gym. You are lucky enough to learn exactly what you can and can’t handle. You get the opportunity to develop character that is solid and deep and you get to take that with you wherever you go.