Category Archives: Uncategorized

The State of the Art of Boxing

by Al Alvir

If there were boxing Gods, all powerful judges overlooking every aspect of the art of boxing, what would They think about it?  The quality of boxing has arguably never been up to a standard worthy of Gods. Regretfully, boxing may have never been up to a standard of itself.  With all the basic tenets and fundamentals of boxing, why do most boxers neglect them?

The apogee of boxing has always been about 10 to 15 people in the history of boxing out of hundreds of thousands of boxers. After those 15 or so fighters, we have countless generations of intermediate and inferior boxers.  Of the 10 to 15 men who exuded the major fundamentals of boxing, have you seen them get hit doing things de facto dumb?  Looking back at some of those 15 people, why do you think they got hit so much?  Do you think they should have or could have avoided being hit as much as they did?

The practical problem is that boxing is entertainment and boxing at its pinnacle, by conventional definition, the art of hitting and not being hit, is not a violent and exciting rumble. Boxing at it’s very best, in any generation, is akin to Mayweather v. Pacquiao I.  Boxing at its best, is loathsome to most spectators.  The ubiquitous dueling of fighters going blow for blow– albeit all heart – is what we all remember.  It’s why Gatti-Ward gets more credit than any Mayweather fight for being considered a great fight.

5 of the most popular fights in history were all wars. These are widely considered the “greatest”: Hagler-Hearns, Diego Corrales-Jose Castillo, Dempsey-Firpo, Pryor-Arguello, and of course Ali-Frazier III.  It’s noted that these fights each exhibited the best part of a fighter – his will.  Will versus will is a recipe for drama like nothing else.  None of the greatest fights, however, exhibited genius.  Genius vs. genius presents us something else that maybe only a jaded boxing coach could respect.  There’s some thinking and minimal intelligence in the bouts above (early, perhaps, before dulled fracas), but it cannot be argued that there was genius displayed in any of these greatest fights of all time.  Intelligence in boxing is a factor that is displayed before the deepest parts of “will” can manifest.  Genius, therefore, the most sustainable factor if present, must only be displayed in boxing when will does not come into play.  My point is that the art of boxing has a paradox that most people seem to not care about; that is, greatness in the world of boxing does not care about genius at all, rather the will of the man is what people adore.

This is what undermines boxing as a whole, because what exists of boxing (the fights themselves) is simply not as impeccable as the science and theory intends. Obviously, as a coach, I care deeply about the will of my fighters, because without it, they would not make it far in boxing.  The will embodies “the fight.”  The culture of boxing is dead without it.  But acumen is absolutely what the art of boxing is about.

As an active member of amateur boxing in the US, I see terrible skills on a monthly basis, across the country, and in all major tournaments. Open and pro boxers have come to me not knowing how to block right hands “because they know how to slip.”  Accomplished fighters I’ve known had not a semblance of the function of basic mechanics – why do we pivot, why do we turn our hands over, why do we step before we slide, etc.  At an AIBA 1-Star coaching certification class, an ex-olympian couldn’t give two examples of how to not get hit with a right hand to the body.  I can offer dozens of anecdotal references to how uneducated and un-studied boxing people are.  The negligence is a common cross-section of boxing, and I’m sorry, not anomalies.  The people who are full of shit roar in boxing.

Boxing people can give great quotes about how boxing is a sweet science. They can do fancy mitt routines and repeat  some hackneyed instructions.  But a lot of the successful boxers who grow up in this culture tend to just punch well.  They shoeshine on a whim and seem to have go to moves that they execute like they “count to three and go on three.”  Some of the highest ranked fighters get hit during every combination and just try to race and outgun opponents.  I’ve seen little pee-wee’s beating each other’s brains in, perhaps because they will learn defense if they don’t bleed on their brains first.  The art of counter-punching is limited to shoulder-rolls and lean-backs because they are in style due to the follower nature of people (that is all they got from Mayweather’s genius).  For each of the Andre Wards, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweathers, Guillermo Rigondeaux’s, and Vasyl Lomachenkos, there are 30 contenders with all the talent in the world and none of the info.  There are countless numbers more of boxers without any talent whatsoever.

I never claim to say I have all the info, but at least I implore fundamentals, and I’m not going to stand idle while my fighters prepare to slur their speech.

Some of the Tools of the Boxing Trade

by Al Alvir

Teddy Atlas took Cus D’Amato’s Willie Bag invention and ran to the bank with it when he sold the idea to Everlast. Boxing is filled with tools for learning that have lasted many decades, possibly centuries. Cus developed some strange number system and made the Willie Bag to prepare Jose Torres for Willie Pastrano.  The evaluation line, the slipbag, slip lines (ropes), the jab plank, the floor-to-ceiling bag (double-end bag), etc., have been incorporated in boxing, but it’s unclear to whom we owe the ideas.  Trainers often take other people’s ideas and create their own systems – few have cashed-in like Atlas – without a dab of recognition to Cus D’Amato I must add.

Ringside Boxing is another company that was known for making really unique devices to keep boxing training fresh. They made a bag that was attached to surgical tube that bounced in all different directions – I even cloned it with the help of an assistant coach, and gym-members started calling it the Onion (due to the reddish-purple tape) or the Swee’ Pea in regard to Pernell Whitaker for his unpredictable movement.  Trainers consistently borrow new ways of teaching to forward to their fighters.

At Eastern Queens Boxing Club (EQBC), I created two devices. One is in the process of being patented and the other is being made for distribution.  One is the “Slip-Pipe” (patent-pending) a swinging pipe that hangs from a ceiling parallel to the floor and swings so boxers can use it to slip and bob and weave while it moves.  Think of it like slip-lines that swing. The other tool I call “The Boxing Footwork Grid” (so unoriginal, I know, but in boxing we tend to call things as they are – very little embellished).  It is a box system that I created to teach new boxers the proper foot positioning and the proper footwork for boxing.  In the gym, I have a grid of numbered taped squares on the floor so boxers can practice the steps with a fixed and guided pattern that is exactly the way one would step in a fight.  Once a boxer learns the steps, he could change the distances in his strides without losing his stance.  It’s a simple solution, but it took a lot of trial and error and struggles with teaching people how to stand.  Before this I used to tape footprints to the floor, but the footprints didn’t work for little kids.  The Footwork Grid works for anyone.

Another tool I have made part of the teaching system at EQBC is written routines on the wall that have been tried and tested over my years of boxing and innovated from the haphazard commands of trainers. The routines work like lists on the wall with optional replacements. It’s no different from how educated trainers coach their young, but it is self-managing.  It leaves no room for a boxer in a crowded gym to not know what he has to do next.

Trainers around the world also have their number systems, but the one that evolved at EQBC is consistent from head to toe. The basic punches are numbered 1-6 (this had been coincidentally created by vast numbers of trainers).  When I first found out another coach had devised the same number system, I was baffled until I looked at it more honestly – it is an obvious number system.  One thing that was not so obvious to others was my initiation of adding 11-16 to indicate the basic six punches to the body.  Head-movement is also consistent to “spots” that are odd and even.  And the lateral steps are also compatible with “odd” and “even” movement.  This makes all the communication exponentially easier, and it makes learning more accommodating.  These are also basics of boxing.  It doesn’t change the way people box, rather it has changed the way people learn.

Throughout my many years involved in boxing, I’ve studied under many coaches. I used to keep a notebook during my training years.  I’ve learned that simplification is the most toilsome duty, essential in boxing.  So many trainers make their boxers do things, and understand those things for themselves, but the boxers tend to not ever find out how to translate, explain, or process, and they tend to not know the reasoning to their moves.  Good athletes can know exactly how and when to do things in action, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any athlete who can breakdown the process and simplify to relegate to different people.  How do you develop feints?  What are the beats that you use to counter?  Why are some spots “safe spots” and others not?

Every next year in this game, I realize how little I knew the last. But one constant is that the best ways of teaching is to habitually adjust, innovate and simplify.

Good teachers don’t make things seem more intricate than it is; in something that is already so intricate, only bad egos do that.

* Ethical coaches also don’t steal ideas and sell it as their own.

 

Controversial Decisions, Disputed Championships, and the Asterisk in Boxing

By Al Alvir

There should be a new statistic considered in boxing: the Asterisk.

Baseball has argued the idea of adding an asterisk to its record books because of all the alleged steroid use among its players.  The slippery slope might make someone argue that teams’ wins and losses might need asterisks too.  Bad calls by the officials in boxing, however, are not reviewed the way great performances are.  In boxing, next to fighters’ records of wins, losses, ko’s, decisions, and draws, there should be an asterisk to signify and quantify whatever number of those fights were controversial to the effect that the outcome, out of the fighters’ control, had a reasonable possibility of being completely reversed.  The asterisk could indicate a fighter’s wins that were close decisions, bad calls by referees affecting the scoring, lucky come-from-behind TKOs, split decisions, etc.  And in this manly art we don’t cosign excuses for losing, but we surely should recognize the rationale in not really winning.  So the asterisk will only stand for wins (otherwise, fighters might embellish their asterisks as built in excuses every time their records are announced).  Meaning, a fighter with 35-4-2-*7, one can say he clearly and mathematically won 28 fights.  Of course, controversy is almost too difficult to argue by its nature, and an asterisk cannot address bad unanimous decisions or one corrupt judge.

In a sport in which championships don’t necessarily indicate being the best or beating the best, and it certainly does not indicate earning title shots by winning a streak of fights up the ranks, at least a new statistic could tell a story.  Was Rocky Marciano really undefeated if you consider an asterisk?

________________________________________________________

SAFO Group has tried and tested my equation to qualify or disqualify unanimous decisions within boxing’s 10 Point Must System.  I named it the Fair-Draw Asterisk Solution (FDAS).  This way all wins in boxing will be as fairly rated as they possibly could be.

FDAS = If (swing rounds x 3) > or = (scorecard 1 margin) + (scorecard 2 margin) + (scorecard 3 margin), the fight must be considered a “Fair Draw”

So, in lieu of complete fairness (and the rare 10-10 round), FDAS is the closest thing to anything remotely fair, as it is based on factual numbers and sanctioned contest numbers.  Swing-rounds are rounds that are so close that they can be subjectively judged in favor of either fighter.  To quantify what a swing-round is, FDAS defines it as any round that is not unanimously scored in favor of one fighter by the 3 official judges.  Any swing-round, therefore, can be scored +3/-3 for either fighter – that’s the swing part; it can swing one way or the other, subjectively, if something was viewed differently.

Fair-Draw Asterisks are afforded to all split decisions and all fights that are proven by the FDAS solution.

Sample:

Fighter          1         2          3         4          5          6         7         8          9        10        11       12      Total

10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 113
9 9 9 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 115

Scorer ______ Date ______

 

Fighter          1         2          3         4          5          6         7         8          9        10        11       12      Total

10 10 10 9 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 112
9 9 9 10 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 116

Scorer ______ Date ______

 

Fighter          1         2          3         4          5          6         7         8          9        10        11       12      Total

10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 113
8 9 9 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 114

Scorer ______ Date ______

 

  • Swing Rounds = 1 = margin of 3 (minimally, all cards can score at least 1 point in favor of one or the other)
  • Scorecard 1 margin = 2
  • Scorecard 2 margin = 4
  • Scorecard 3 margin = 1
  • Scorecard margin total = 7
  • Margin total is greater than swing round total, so this fight is not a Fair-Draw.

*Also, round 1 was scored differently, but it is not a swing-round because one fighter was the agreed winner.

It is so unfair that so many major fights of history could have had a different outcome if only one judge scored one round differently. Is that fair?  Since judgment is the basis for scores—rather than actual points or tangible evidence—without unanimity it is only fair to “draw” when considering ethically and logically.  This is why grave matters in politics require unanimity for decisions.

I stress that this asterisk won’t change anyone’s record.  It just puts a little spit on it. And it is not subjective. That makes it awesome.  This way, three assholes have to score a fight bad for any bad decision to take place.  The FDAS just determines that close fights, when viewed differently, can fairly be considered a draw… just considered. Of course the solution doesn’t overrule bad judges, but it forces the judges to a fair agreement (factually and mathematically.)  Also, because a swing round becomes a drawn round, this puts real weight onto the other rounds. It puts fate into the fighters’ hands to get everyone’s agreement. The only opposition to FDAS is that the controversy of unfair decisions can be considered good for sales.  This solution, however, will prove fighters’ dominance.

It might also prove that sales are a bunch of BS too.

How USA Boxing Should Be Changed

by Rick Brandoff

Disclaimer: Below is not necessarily a reflection of the beliefs of Eastern Queens Boxing Club, its members, its coaches, or the owner and of Shootafairone.com

Open Letter to USA Boxing amd AIBA:

Our amateur boxing system is filled with honest, hardworking volunteers and professionals who give what they can to the amateur careers of our kids and to the advancement of our sport.  There are, however, embarrassing issues that plague us.  What makes it ever so cringingly painful is that the issues seem to be capable of easy fixes. They’re such easy fixes that the growing feeling of members is that USA Boxing doesn’t give a speckle of an iota about the problems. People reduce the ignorance to being “business as usual.”

The three problems that our boxers and their families and friends tangibly know too well within USA Boxing are:

1) Fighter No-shows to Scheduled Bouts

2) Judges lack uniform competence or integrity. The scoring needs to be fixed.

3) Disorganization. The typical standards of other organizations are virtually non-existent in USA Boxing.

Fighter No-Shows are an easily avoidable nuisance. This happens all too often in boxing. Show promoters have to over-schedule just to insure having a bout card.  To avoid this, and to instill accountability, a boxer must submit his/her boxing passbook in order to confirm a bout.  If he does not show-up in time for weigh-in, or if he is not at his agreed-upon weight and the coaches do not agree to let the fight occur, the boxer must be suspended for 30-90 days and fined.

Judges lack uniform competence or integrity. There are no detailed standards for scoring fights, period.  Judges cannot possibly know exactly what they are looking for or looking at – this may sound like a hasty judgment, but the proof is in the disparity of scores in given bouts.  Draws, therefore, are only fair outcomes.  It is ludicrous that draws are non-existent in amateur boxing.  Hypothetically, if two fighters do identically the same things in a fight, how can a draw not be allowed possible?  There is also a glaring conflict of interest as there exist many judges and referees who are affiliated to boxing clubs – even as coaches. This sort of conflict of interest is unheard of in the American Judicial System – jury members can’t even know about a famous person on trial. Why should boxing allow any of this sort of faux-pas?

The disorganization of USA Boxing is unfathomable. One boxer’s mother at a show noted to me, “They are all uneducated, irresponsible, over-the-hill street kids, rude with brute stupidity.” This is not what I want boxing to be about.  I wouldn’t want my kids involved in this either, if that were truly the case.  I don’t believe it is the case of USA Boxing as a whole, but there are valid points.  Why are certain rules in place?  Why are draws not done beforehand in any of our local tournaments?  Why is there so much political he say/she say, who’s having sex with who, unseating of Presidents, etc? Why are promoter’s sons fighting on their own cards?  Why are our tournaments not bracket structures?  Why are email bout notices sent to fighters only and are sometimes two or three day notices only?  And now coaches can’t appeal/protest or review scorecards.  Where is the accountability?  Where is the transparency?  I have the strong belief that a cornerman should be allowed to retrieve scores in between rounds to notify his fighter (not the audience).  This is the one aspect of drama undermined in boxing and available in all other sports.  If you disagree, you sure can’t prove it either.  So why not try it?  First and foremost, rules are in place to be adhered to.  Unlike other organizations, USA Boxing has a convoluted checks and balances that often start with a broken rule and ends up with one person saying, “that’s how it is.”  I guess it’s complacent corruption, “business as usual.”

______________________________________________________

Below is an excerpt from a piece written by Coach Al Alvir of EQBC from which I’ve discussed some ideas:

“USA Boxing Judges are Ruining Boxers’ Careers.

The classiest boxing teams don’t complain about poorly scored decisions. We remain poker-faced when we believe the scorers have misjudged. But what are the repercussions of injustice?  Where is the accountability for negligence or incompetence?

Moreover, what happens when numerous bad decisions fall upon promising boxers who become ruined by one-sided, blatantly wrong decisions?

As the head coach of a USA Boxing Club, I’ve kept my cool about innumerous bad decisions. I assure you, I am not that guy who leads scenes raving about judges’ incapabilities.  Everyone knows.  I know that bias is a coach’s natural reservation, so I accept what we get.  But one giant, loaded, bantamweight straw has broke the camel’s back.  Yesterday, a fighter of mine found himself on his 4th straight inconceivable loss.  Coaches wanted to appeal.  Fathers wanted to riot.  Opposing coaches offered their apologies.  The least action I could do is review it and consult with authorities.

I don’t expect – though it may be deserved – a reversal of a judgment. I do expect AIBA and USA Boxng to make some real efforts to change what’s happening.  Fighters’ parents will start to pull their kids from our programs.  Some more talent will be forfeited to basketball and football, as has been the case for decades in America.  This can all happen even if any of us are wrong simply because there is no consistency.

First, judges need to be accountable. They need to have their records tracked, as is done in the pros. Second, judges need to have an objective standard as to what they are looking for.  There must be a “written law” or rulebook detailing what judges are to look for.  What’s out now is not enough. Boxing is much more complicated than a hip rotation and a turn-over of a fist.  Third, judges must not have any affiliations with boxing clubs.

My suggestion is to create a council for “Judging Judges.” If any coach wants to submit a formal protest, he must fill-out a proper form and write his review of a fight along with film footage. Then an appropriate USA Boxing official reviews the judges’ decisions along with the footage. If a judge under review is deemed to have been incompetent or lacking integrity, appropriate measures should be taken, including the removal of an official from amateur boxing.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I only hope that the powers that be recognize they can be, just as much.”

(see “The Fair-Draw Asterisk” on shootafairone.com).

To Privately Train or Not To

 

by Al Alvir

There are two predominant kinds of people who train: the ones whose chief goal is to perform better and the ones whose chief goal is to be taught more. That was a difficult differentiation to make, but it is precisely designated, and I promise to explain.  Of course, there is an amalgam of sub-categories, but everybody falls under one.  Instinctively, I’d say there are two kinds of trainees: people who can follow directions and train alone versus people who need someone to hold their hands in order to train at all.  That is, however, a little harsh and unfair.

As a coach/trainer, I am adamant that I am NOT a personal trainer nor do I ever choose to do it with any client. I don’t choose to teach people how to have work-outs. It is simply not how fighters are made or how fighters get better.  But human nature will easily be tricked into thinking that they are getting more out of an hour in which they are spending more money and in which they are being told more by a superior.  Trainers are 9 a dime who understand and exploit this – and they probably don’t even know it.  They are the ones who understand business and customer service as they do hour sessions.  Heartlessly, I say.

The type of training I speak about are the ones in which you hear cheerleading and big-brother encouragement as the trainers don’t actually fine-tune; the trainers are usually filling-up 40+ minutes of fun mittwork routines, a bunch of exercises a fighter would do alone, and some strategies that a trainee isn’t even ready for. Some trainers make work-outs elaborately paced and exciting and different – these are by far the biggest red flags screaming: “Not for any real fighter.” These trainers can tell you how good you’re doing, but they probably don’t make any of the fundamental corrections, even over time, for a trainee to ever do those things correctly.  Clients who want to go through those boxer motions are perfect candidates for one to one training because they’re being taught more, even if they may not learn or absorb anything at all.  I’ve even witnessed boxers with some bad habits run through long ring-work sessions, going over different moves and set-ups while they didn’t know how to close distance correctly.  Anyone involved in this game has seen horrendously formed boxers throw 10-punch combinations while being praised for doing nothing fundamentally correct.  It’s ubiquitous. In my opinion, it’s a sales tactic to make the fighter think he’s getting more with this coach than he may get somewhere else.  I’d tell the kids mentioned above to work footwork in two directions and not punch for three weeks, but that’s just me.  This may hurt clients’ feelings in my own gym, but this designation of trainee make for the worst fighters who have the slowest learning curves (but they continue to make the choice, even though my coaches are capable of much more with their time.  I must also add that the false praise and elaborate beginner-ring-work is non-existent in my club).  They come in for three hours a week with a coach, and that’s it.  They get the training, but in these situations the customer is almost always wrong.

The type of trainee that I love to see and work with are the ones with single-minded goals (because they probably already lost weight or will do it alone) to perform better. These are sport-minded people, the real fighters who aim to make changes.  They may choose some private coaching to supplement their core work.  They don’t care about how a coach says things or how many hoops a coach jumps with them.  Fighters only care about getting better, and they know the only way to truly make progress is to do the same things for numerous hours at a time, in sequence, with resolve.  It is a blessing working with fighters, because they know the process. They know that an hour of fabulous mitts or reviews on different styles do nothing until the most minor steps are made perfect, step by step. In essence, the most efficient hour with a coach would often resemble the most efficient hour of training solo.  That is, unless trainees are just cataloguing notes during an hour clinic (like a lecture), as opposed to an hour one to one training session.

Open coaching is how boxers fine-tune. It is just how any team sport works; a bunch of individuals scrimmage or do drills while coaches look at all the individuals and the sub-strategies.  It’s up to the players to follow the directions and practice.  In boxing, fighters come to their club to work their individual programs while a coach oversees, gives tips, and makes corrections.  Sometimes, individual players need/want  special attention when they’re having difficulties.  And that’s when boxers seek more than just mittwork.

I’ve worked the best one to one sessions with professionals and seasoned boxers (not novices).  None were work-out based.  Some, I’d go over a move, and they’d practice it for the whole session with a lot of dialogue.  Some, I’d be asked to just observe for an hour and spot corrections.  Of course, there were some who just wanted a random switch-up of pad-work once in a while (and they’d be willing to spend their educated money).

At any rate, a full hour private one to one session is usually a waste of time unless the boxer is completely dedicated to overall performance, not just how much stuff was gone over or how much was taught in an hour. Because I can assure you that I’ve taught much, much more in given hours to insufficient trainees and I’ve “instilled” even more in given hours to fine boxers who did the work whether they liked it or did not.  Learning boxing, unlike many other pursuits, is a process of learning literally one thing at a time.

So when you are deciding on getting private boxing training or not, first come to realization on what kind of one to one coaching you are searching for. And understand that the two types are mutually exclusive:  By the end of one hour, do you want to perform better or to have been taught more?

Ultimately, if you’re looking for one to one training, I’m afraid that you’re probably just looking for a shortcut or some filler time.

If not, let’s work.

The Line (prose)

by Al Alvir

“If everything is on the line, I wanna be right here at home.

But I know I need to get off the line or be on neither side alone.

 

When the blood is dry, the bandage washed, the leather starts to crack

Like wrinkles ply with brandished scars, I weather the attack.
 

If everything is on the line, I wanna be right here at home.

My body’s lying. My mommy’s vying for a place that’s not my own.
 

My daydreams rig my nightmares with a fear of open roads

I wake to sprint and breathe on. Years, I’m racing to be slow.

 

My labor is the mute complaints and hustle for more purse.

Every day I look forward to a struggle that’s much worse.

 

Cancer. Beat. Mourning too. Divorce and war. What’s left?

I’m looking for the battle where I stand against myself.

 

If everything is on the line, I wanna be right here at home.

But I know I need to get off the line or be on neither side alone.”

To Be a Champion

I got beat up.

Every other day.

I loved this game.

But I was beat. The coaches couldn’t see my dedication? What was going on? I was Ali. I was Lamotta. I was Tyson. Sweet Pea. I coulda’ been somebody. Before I hopped on to another gym, I looked at all the coaches and wondered if they could ever understand…

That was circa 1994. Now I’m running a small business, a gym borrowing from the process of life. Being lost, losing, working, triumphing. And I’m seeing kids with talent. Some are athletic and can’t listen a lick. Some remind me of why I fell in love with boxing. Some are born under the bullshit of circumstance. Because I don’t give a notion of a fuck if they’re poor or if they have some other handicap on their shoulders. I believe that overachievers win over underachievers 99.99% of the time. And it’s a state of mind, it’s not circumstance.

A few times a day guys walk in my club and proclaim that they’re going to be world champions but don’t even know the beginning process. How do I train? How do I get prepared to spar? How do I get a fight? What weight will I fight at? I know right away that they’re dogs that will eventually need to be put to sleep. Be it time or the lies of circumstance that sound their flat line. They’re not calculating like swift fighters. They’re under-valuing the difficulty. Or they’re projecting their insecurities, lying to me not knowing that they’ve said the wrong thing on what is, essentially, an interview. Yet they still get the job – at the back of a line led by quiet, unassuming murderers who will never squeal a word. Those murderers might end up as accountants or janitors, but they won’t end up as liars. Everybody learns something.

The training in this game is a job. It’s seems perfect when you love it. But how you train when you love it no longer is where the perfect beauty comes out? When you need motivation, can you do without it? As a contender can you be by yourself running through a program/routine as you were as a rank amateur, working harder than anyone you’ve ever seen? Can you follow a correction to break a habit built over years of training? Can you do the hardcore conditioning without a team or without affording a conditioning coach to pay by the hour? The real workers, the ones with hearts of champions, continue to work harder than the next guy in the gym. The real ones with champion hearts do all the work when they hate it, and that’s when they realize that they are really made to see this through. Other guys lose, or what they consider losing, in sparring, and they leave. Other guys lose fights, and they leave. Other guys lose the love, and they leave. They lose something and look outside themselves to get it back, but that’s a fallacy. The point is that you set a goal; you better friggin’ “see it through” whatever it may be. Seeing it through to failure is noble; quitting is never noble.

What it takes to become a champion of the world is something twenty-plus years in boxing doesn’t even teach. But I know it’s more impressive to me than any Ivy League Doctorate with a 4.0 average. It’s improbable and it doesn’t involve even an atom of luck. I indulge in a note that I’ve shared rings and heavy-bags with world-champions. I also believed I was just like them. I thought I was robbed of opportunities they got, and it took a gut and a bad back, years later, to convince me that I was just a moron.

Maybe those coaches watching me train as a kid understood that I couldn’t be nobody, anybody.  ‘Irony is that it was always up to me.

I’m standing here with a bloody stopwatch of hope and I know I look beat. But I’m no longer a liar, and I never, never stopped loving boxing.  Plus, I think a champion is in my gym and I want him to find himself.  As I did.

— Just a coach… Al