Well this post is going to be relevant for two reasons.
1) The mental side of Boxing
2) The state of your mental health
A lot of people overlook this aspect of their lives, they pay attention to their health but often neglect ensuring their mental health is as strong as their physical bodies, but in reality, you cannot have one without the other, you cannot overlook one and forget the other. This article is a quick reminder that you need to protect your mental health to ensure your life runs as smoothly as possible, and it is number 2, the health of your mental state that I am addressing here.
Yes sure, when it comes to the mental side of Boxing, you need to give proper attention to your state of mind. You cannot entertain any self doubt when entering the ring for a fight. If you allow your opponent to intimidate you, then the fight is already lost. Mike Tyson used intimidation better than any other fighter in history, many of his opponents had lost the fight before they had stepped into the ring, such was Tysons ability to get into his minds and stoke the flames of fear. yet according to his mentor and trainer growing up – Cus D’Amato, fear was something Tyson felt too, everyone felt it, but those who succeed are those who can master their fear and emotions.
Tyson learned over time how to use the fear, not control it, but use it. Cus D’Amato also said of fear, “You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire”. Cus went onto say….“Boxing is a sport of self-control. You must understand Fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you: it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you are in the dark, and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you….Fear is a friend of exceptional people.”
On the other side of the ball we had Muhammad Ali, who didn’t intimidate many opponents but he agitated them enough to make them lose their game plan in the ring, allowing Ali to easily handle much stronger opponents than him, such as Sonny Liston, who was at the time, arguably the most intimidating boxer in history. Tyson used the mental side of boxing to create fear, Ali used the mental side of boxing to convince himself he was the greatest and belittle his opponents in the process that they would come out trying to kill him. Both methods worked.
But what of the health of your mind? You may be an aspiring boxer, you may be trying to lose weight or you may be taking the first steps in your journey of a new career.
Can you handle the criticism that is inevitably going to come your way? Whatever you are trying to achieve in life, someone is going to dislike what you are doing or how you are doing it. Sometimes it is even your family who will cast doubt in your mind – ‘you can’t do that’, they say. ‘Don’t take the risk, just stay as you are’. But becoming comfortable in life never changed anyone or helped them to grow. You only grow when you are stretching yourself, you only improve as a boxer when losing to others in sparring, testing your new techniques against them again and again or when facing better quality opposition.
Will some words of contempt get you down? Will you shrivel up into your shell if you hear through the grapevine a ‘friend’ or someone from your family laughed at you losing your last fight? Or they snigger at your attempt to start boxing and better yourself?
You must develop thick skin, and you must know that by doing something which makes you better or something that will help you improve whether it is as a person/work/sports, you will attract haters. Floyd Mayweather Jnr was at one point the most hated man in boxing, but he was the most successful and the highest paid, he was the best yet he had more than his fair share of detractors. If the best in the business still has his achievements belittled, what makes you think we are any different? So be happy you are gaining doubters who don’t believe in you, it means you are on the path to success and achieving something in your life, which is probably something many of those doubting you are not doing, they are going nowhere in their life so they try to pick holes in your life. A friend of mine once said to me ‘everyone who has a life to live, will have someone who hates that life of his.’ If you think everyone likes you, then there is probably something wrong with you. Don’t worry about people disagreeing with you, or people not liking what you are doing, keep your eyes on the prize and remain focused, you have to practice selective listening and tune yourself out to the naysayers. If you find yourself attracting negative comments, then the chances are, it is because you are making an impact and are now doing something right.
Develop thick skin, ignore the haters, keep doing what you are doing, keep moving forward and success will be yours. Always remember, with hardship there comes relief, you may experience tough times, but it is always followed by better times.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle