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Competitive Boxing Isn’t for Everyone

Last Updated: 15.05.22


Simply buying a reflex bag will not get you to the pros. While many people try boxing, making a career out of it is much harder than it looks. This is a tough and dangerous sport where mental preparation is as important as the physical one and many people are simply not up to the task.


Things to munch over

Boxing is a tough sport and anybody who tells you otherwise has definitely never tried it. The training is tough, the sparring is tough, the matches are even tougher. However, for many people, this is what gives boxing that addictive nature and keeps them coming back for more.

Amateur boxing is, in this regard, a great stepping stone because would-be professionals can accumulate as much experience as possible and see if they are ready for the big-time. The general consensus inside the sport is that a boxer learns by boxing so it’s essential that amateur ones spar and compete regularly to keep their game fresh and evolving.

This is the time-tested way of how a boxer develops and is able to progress through the different ranks of the sport. In regards to this, the Cuban program is unmatched in the entire world as it’s not uncommon for their top amateurs to get up to a few hundred fights even before making it to the pros.

While no one can dispute their success, many people have raised questions about whether or not such high frequency in fights is or can be dangerous for the boxer. Is there such a thing as too much boxing when you’re trying to also stay safe? Therefore, there are a lot of studies going on about the limitations that should be put to how often boxers spar or compete.



Sparring and competition frequency

Unfortunately, it is quite hard to answer the question about frequency since how often a boxer participates in sparring or competition depends on several individual factors. For instance, the level of boxing ability and experience are both quite relevant. If you think about it, what makes sense and is going to work for a seasoned vet may be downright dangerous for the rookie.

Furthermore, a change of pronoun and adverb is also required as who and how the boxer competes or spars are both great questions to ask and just as relevant as how often. While one session might be done with your bud and involve light work where both of you get in a good workout, another one might escalate into a war that’ll have you leaving your best stuff in the gym.

Obviously, the damage inflicted on you during each session will be quite different and it is these differences that are used to underline the limitations of focusing solely on frequency as the barometer to determine matches and sparring training.

With that in mind, it is imperative that a young, up-and-coming boxer works with an experienced trainer that is able to guide him through the thick and thin. A good one will not only match his students appropriately but will also closely watch to see how much damage is inflicted so he can get in there and stop the fight anytime it’s deemed necessary. 

A sparring session that gets out of control is harmful to pretty much everybody involved, from the health of the fighters to the trainer’s reputation so nobody wants this. While hard sparring is indeed important at higher levels of boxing, being drained out on match this is nothing to write home about. 


Boxing is tough

Another aspect that is important for would-be fighters is to realize exactly what they are getting themselves into. Even when discussing sparring or competition frequency, one should not forget that boxing is an extremely tough sport, maybe the toughest one out there. While our society is more or less focused on equality, there is none to be had inside the boxing ring. 

Anyone can use the sport for working out and this is why fitness boxing is all the rage these days since it combined weight training with the amazing conditioning given to you by boxing. However, the competitive side of the sport is not for everyone, not by a long shot. 

If we’re taking this information and referring back to our Cuban example, we do have to point out that not every Cuban amateur gets up to a few hundred fights. Only those who manage to thrive and win last so long and this alone should indicate what the true nature of boxing is: survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, not everyone in this world is built to survive inside a ring.

While boxing is a sport that is highly-popularized and transmitted all around the world, one must understand that when they step inside the ring to compete, the reality is that they are in a fight. Thomas Hauser once managed to express this idea very well in his book ‘The Black Lights’ by saying the following:

‘Getting punched in the head is an integral part of boxing. The basic idea is to inflict as much damage as possible on an opponent’. Even though to some people this may sound vicious and violent, you will never meet a serious boxer who does not want to win by knockout all day, every day. 

What does this have to do with boxing frequency? It’s quite simple actually, considering the fact that the sport is simple in regards to its outcome: there are winners and losers. If a boxer continues to add up to that losses column, chances are he is taking too much punishment and he is not ready-enough to prevent this from happening any more. 

In these situations, it is the trainer’s responsibility to speak up and protect the fighter from further injuries by preventing any matches. 



A trainer’s responsibility

Considering the harsh nature of the sport, we believe it’s very important to once again state that it’s no shame in the fact that boxing isn’t for everyone. A trainer should always go with his gut and tell a student that competitive boxing isn’t the thing for him or her, rather than turning a blind eye and having that person get seriously injured later. 

Like any other sport in the world, the highest level of boxing requires the highest level of skill so not everybody is going to make it to the top. Therefore, at a certain point, fighters that manage to grow beyond their skill curve will start taking too many punches from opponents who are simply better than they are. 

At this point, it is the responsibility of the trainer to step up and protect the boxer, because it is pure irresponsibility to put a fighter in the ring if that person lacks the ability to properly compete and protect himself. Hurting some feelings is way better than somebody taking a punch that will carry with him or her forever. 


Final thoughts on this

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a single, universally-valid answer about the frequency of sparring and competitions when it comes to boxing. Due to how different each athlete is, there are no general suggestions that can be applied to the masses. Boxing will always be a dangerous sport so you’ll always have a fine line between not enough and too much. 

As a trainer, it’s quite obvious that you will want your competitive boxers to spar regularly so they remain in the best shape possible but, at the same time, you want to see their best work during a match, not inside the gym. 

To use a car metaphor, it’s important to track each fighter’s odometer individually because high mileage won’t always mean a high number of rounds but it will rather result in a lot of overuse and too much wear and tear during each bout. 

That being said, the fact that competitive boxing isn’t for everyone should not stop people who are interested in the sport from visiting the local boxing gym. Everyone is welcomed to participate and it’s important to understand that, just like any other sport, boxing also has levels and any person willing to try can find his/her own level sooner or later. 

Practice hard and don’t worry because at one point or another you will be told or you will understand by yourself how high your ceiling can be and you will simply have to adapt to that. 




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