BOXING IS BOOMING
You're booming if you're boxing
From the North to the bottom of South America, across the Eurasian continent to Japan, down South to Australia and back around via Africa, boxing is a global phenomenon. At the time of writing there are no less than 18 differing nationalities represented, across 18 different weight divisions, who hold one of the five major belts in professional boxing. There are world title holders from every continent, except Antartica.
Whether it’s the surge in popularity of women’s boxing since the London Olympics in 2012, the large venues beyond the US that have seen record crowds, the variety of broadcasters showing the prize-fights, the ability to re-watch the fight on playback, the rise of the youtube boxers and the fact that some weight divisions are enjoying a golden era, professional boxing is flourishing globally.
Closer to home, non-professional boxing is also proliferating. The Amateur ranks from where the next crop of professional stars will emerge, are swelling with contenders. These athletes have dedicated themselves to competition and many have aspirations to be the next team member to represent their country at the Olympics, or to follow in the footsteps of household giants like; Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Frazer Clarke, Savannah Marshall, Lauren Price or Nicola Adams.
Popularity for full-contact, white collar competition has also surged in the past 10-20 years. Numbers are hard to come via as this data is proprietary information for private events companies. But looking at how many shows (each show including 50-60 fighters) are put on by three of the biggest white collar events companies in London alone, it’s very easy to imagine that a minimum of 20,000+ people aged between 18-50yrs old, fight in the capital every year. Let’s then say conservatively that anywhere from 150,000+ people compete in these white collar contests across the UK, annually.
Furthermore, non-contact recreational boxing is enjoying unparalleled popularity across the UK, in classes, clubs, private boutiques and studios.
Boxing is the perfect counterpoint to our modern, quick-fix, automated and cosseted lifestyles. Whether contact or not, boxing is hard, it is head-to-toe physical, it is a skill, it requires focus to exclusion of other distractions (which is meditative), it is empowering and it is hugely beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
First of all let focus on the fact that it’s hard - we do things not because they’re easy, but because they’re hard. Boxing is based on intermittent high-intensity intervals, often involving explosive power, which demands everything your cardiovascular system has to offer. When we meet this resistance, that is when we find out about ourselves…how far do we want to go?
Secondly, boxing is physical and an outlet for expressing yourself. Exercising every part of the body makes boxing an efficient workout to counter-balance large periods of inactivity and sedentary tendencies in our modern world. 50% of your punching power comes from the legs, 30% from your abdomen and core, with just 20% power output delivered from your shoulders and arms. Although obviously a more hand-to-eye sport, you cannot deliver your maximum power without using your feet to put yourself in the best position to deliver that optimal power. Your connection with the ground is where the leverage behind your punches sources its power. Hitting things (bag, pads or even an opponent!) eases tension. Boxing is a controlled environment to express your physicality without judgement.
As has already been mentioned, boxing is an intensive cardio workout, meaning it can be an efficient use of time in our demanding, busy lives.
Thirdly, boxing is a skill. It will give you the chance to improve ad infinitum. Whatever age, gender, size, level of fitness or ability, boxing is accessible at any level of skill - everyone can hit. We all enjoy the satisfaction of improvement. Above all though, as a skill, we tend to push ourselves past our usual cardio threshold because there is a point to what we’re doing… the coach calls out one more combination and as close to defeat as our bodies may feel, we know we must execute. Variety is the spice of life and the combinations of punches coupled with phases of attack are inexhaustible. Our skill simply increases with every practise.
Hitting a moving target is a skill, but it takes focus. While our eyes are trained on the pads in front of us, we wait for the next input of verbal instructions to output a physical response and we are in living in the fullness of the moment. It is this focus that settles an overstimulated mind. When the body is busy, the mind is empty - boxing is active meditation.
Fifthly, boxing is empowering. Learning how to punch properly and finding your true power is an awakening. When we awaken our physicality, we have an appreciation for what our bodies are capable of and philosophically we gain a heightened appreciation for what our bodies were designed to do. With empowerment comes physical confidence and this transfers to daily life, elevating our self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Lastly, boxing will improve you not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. From the high-intensity cardio workout we benefit from a cascade of neurotransmitters, leaving us feeling rewarded, clear-headed, satisfied, calm and generous-spirited. Boxing is beneficial for the body, it gives us a sense of achievement, it’s enjoyable and we benefit from a closeness to others while we do it, all of which can lift our mental and emotional wellbeing. Boxing is a community, it is social and inclusive.
Having made clear the benefits of boxing, these benefits have been alive and thriving at the heart of so many communities up and down the country for decades. Historically a working man’s sport, the boxing club has acted as a ‘de facto’ youth centre, gifting kids an outlet for expression, something to focus on, somewhere safe to be, where they learn life skills such as; resilience, discipline, respect and emotional control. For too long boxing clubs have been misunderstood, seen as confrontational, intimidating or macho places, that condone violence. But the magic in the formula has been recognised and exported to the mainstream, for all ages. Across the country now, communities of recreational enthusiasts and weekend warriors amass to enjoy all the benefits boxing brings. The camaraderie exists as much in acknowledging how tiring it is and sharing technical tips, as the laughs you have doing something fun with others.
Boxing is Booming
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You’re booming if you’re boxing.