My Boxing Journey: From Fat to Fit

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Well, now that I have had my first real fight, and loss, in the ring it is time to reflect on what I went through and why.

When I was asked by the promoter to jump in the ring with Jesse Ryder I thought it through a fair bit, consulted with friends and family…mostly they said no, and “don’t be daft”.

But deep inside I have wanted to do something about my weight, and wanted a new challenge.

How hard could it be I thought to myself.

Well it turns out that boxing is very hard. It is technically difficult, and requires a significant effort just to get to the ring.

I started on an 8 week journey where I could barely run, hated being in togs, couldn’t enjoy the sun and beach or my love of hunting due to my weight.

When I rocked up to the gym to start training with Henry Schuster and Nigel Andrew they told me to start running…just walking around the block was hard enough…but running? Were they serious?

Turns out they were…it took me 4 weeks to shed the kilos to start doing that without risking shin splints and injury from carting around over 120kgs.

But at the end run I did, and run and run and run…twice a day plus gym/boxing.sparring sessions, 6 days a week.

The guys I trained with were awesome.

From all walks of life, builders, sparkies, painters, office workers, factory hands…all with a love of a sport I barely understood.

The thing is they barely fight…maybe once a week…the rest is incredible fitness and stamina training…these guys are fit and hard. They love the sport for the release that it gives. No one has any time for politics or work in the gym. ??

I also got to know a lot of the professional fighters and their different approaches. And I tell you what…sitting in the dressing room at a tournament like the Super 8 and seeing the winners and the losers come back after their bouts is an incredible thing to witness. Those guys are tough, ?win or lose they are tough. I saw guys I trained with get pummeled, and guys I trained with do the pummeling, but afterwards in the shed there was no moaning about what could have been…if you got beat, you got beat, that’s it.

In simple terms that is boxing to a tee…two blokes in a ring, having a crack until one falls over…the best man wins. There is no where to hide in the ring, and as a metaphor for politics it is very similar.

To get to the ring is an exercise in mental and physical toughness…that walk from the dressing room, followed by your corner crew is very, very lonely…and very, very intense. The pressure is immense and you are trying to control your heart rate and trying to stay calm.

I know my walk in music was the House of Cards theme…I picked it, but did I hear it. or the crowd? Nope…not a sound…all I could hear was my breathing and my heart beat. Up those stairs and into the ring, cameras, announcers….but you there alone, tick tock, the time is approaching…fear is gone, waiting is gone this is it.

And boy was it over in a flash…that bell goes…and you start off with your game plan, a jab, move, another jab, a right, yes it hit, then the flurries started…duck, weave, tagged, duck, bang, over…get up, get up, get up…relax…breathe…six, seven, eight, fight….and it starts again.

Bang, what’s that white colour…oh it’s the canvas…oh look there are the lights above…who’s that…oh the doctor…and the coach…what happened? Upper cut is what happened…never saw, never felt it…and that was it.

That was my fight…toughest 8 weeks of my life, even battling depression wasn’t this tough…and it was over..I’m told in 1 min and 1 sec.

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Standing there waiting for the cameras…putting on a brave face…oh fuck it, I still got in the ring and all the haters out there who spout on Twitter and their blogs can get fucked…I did something amazing…I did it for me and I did it for a charity…I raised a lot of money by putting my body on the line and I stepped through those ropes, which is something I doubt any of them would ever do.

What is incredible was all the people afterwards who congratulated me…and I lost…but they really did, even Graham Brazier, who came up and had a quiet chat after the?fight.

And as I walked the streets of Christchurch that night not a single person said anything bad…quite the opposite.

I have learned a great deal from this experience, but mostly I have learned that fighters deserve an awful lot of respect. I feel privileged to have shared a changing room, the despair of losing and the?ecstasy?of winning with a bunch of guys who gave it their all. No one should ever diss a fighter who?has gone through those ropes and stood in the loneliest of places…a ring 20 feet x 20 feet with nowhere to hide.

Boxing is tough, it is technical and you get it wrong it hurts. But the benefits of the training are incredible.

I’d like to thank all those who helped on this journey…my wife especially, but Henry Schuster, Nigel Andrews, the guys at the gym, and my sparring partners, Asher Derbyshire who showed me dedication to training, Monty Betham for his guidance and counsel, Brian Minto for his camaraderie, even Danny Green and also Anthony McCracken who didn’t care that I hung around his crew on the big night and shared insights of a professional boxer that I will never forget. Thanks too goes to John McCrae, Lightning Mike Angove, Justin Wallace and Mark Keddell for having faith in me as sponsors and promoters.

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