By Coach Tim Walker – Every major sport has some sort of novice league. It is in these leagues where athletes groom their skill, perfect their craft and prepare themselves for the professional ranks. There are only a few precious pro spots so in theory only the absolute best get an invite. This isn’t actually the case for boxers though and it quite possibly shouldn’t be.
As a trainer, ducking has happened to my fighters countless times. Trainers willing to take disqualifications and verbal reprimands from LBC’s instead of matching their boxers with more experienced pugilist. Why? I can logically make two arguments against this; one, losses in the amateurs count for very little with the exception of advancing tournament bouts and two, the supreme learning tool of boxing comes at the end of a more experienced and higher skilled fighter’s punch. Education in the gym is great but experience in the ring is better. Don’t misunderstand, I think pro boxing absolutely needs the
amateur ranks but it can be surpassed by an opportunistic athlete.
Boxing is notorious for weeding out pretenders. Sometimes it’s the workouts. Other times it’s the day in and day out regimens. Most of the time is those first few solid straight right hands to the chin that push guys out of the ring and into other sports. There is a certain mentality that fighters must have and it is a trainer’s job to discover talent, break potential fighters down to nothing and rebuild them into boxing machines. In some ways it is similar to becoming a marine in that everything they know must be removed before they can be sculpted. Many times people don’t realize the sacrifice required to become a boxer and it’s not until they get hit solid that they actually get it. It is a safe bet that if a gym gets 100 new perspective fighters in January then there will only be three or four of them left come the following January.
But can any Joe Blow become a legitimate Joe Boxer? Yes but it is on that rare occasion where athletic ability, power and skill line up perfectly with the circumstances surroundings his boxing arrival. One of the allures of boxing has always been the raw machismo within each boxing match. It takes a pair to stand and trade punches without flinching. Thus, those of us who can, box, and those of us who can’t box live our lives vicariously through the skill of our favorite fighters. Still, becoming a top level Joe Boxer is rare and fleeting for everyday Joe Blows. This article is about those Joe Blow exceptions to the rule.
Those rare fighters who pick up gloves late in life and muster something akin to success.
To understand the annals of boxing you must first accept its foundation; it is a rags to riches epic thriller written on the pages of lack, need and desire, cosigned by blood, tears and the assurance of loss as much as the possibility of success. It is fueled in the hall of a fighter’s subconscious need to pull himself from the circumstances that surround and humble him. That is not to say that every boxer comes from merciless conditions but most of the really good ones do. It is in these humble beginnings that fighters are crafted into world class boxers.
Logic dictates that experience should always dominate inexperience. But rawness can sometimes be an asset to an athlete who is passionate. He can be funneled into an excellent pro and if he is polished correctly, quite possibly a world champion. It is rumored that the late great Archie Moore had no amateur boxing experience. Nate Campbell, former world champion, also had none. Neither did Michael Grant, Tye Fields, Matt Skelton, Daniel Dawson, Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr., Anthony Mundine nor Dwight Qawi. Without getting into a debate over whether these fighters are fringe prospects, actual contenders or genuine champions, we must honor the distinction that they had no amateur experience.
Fighters are not born they are made. These are only a few boxers who by some grace of their athletic prowess excel farther in the sport than logic dictates they should. We can only hope that the next Archie Moore is on the way. Maybe he reads this article and joins a gym tomorrow. Maybe he unintentionally tunes in to a boxing card that inspires him to pick up gloves. Whatever spurns his interest we, the boxing community, sit in wait and will watch in awe. Bring it on Joe!