Self Discipline is an often overlooked aspect of creating success. We hear a lot about aiming high, becoming successful and reaching your goals – but none of that will ever occur if you do not have self discipline.
Brian Tracy, an expert and authority in matters of goal setting and personal development, recalled in his book ‘No Excuses – The Power of Self Discipline‘ a conversation he had with Kop Kopmeyer, a writer of best selling books in the field of success and achievement. Tracy asked of all the 1000 success principles, which do you think is the most important? Kopmeyers reply was a quote from Elbert Hubbard, who was one of America’s leading writers and philosophers. ‘Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.’
Without self-discipline you will not achieve success regardless of what else you are doing, with self-discipline everything you try will work.
Brian Tracy himself went on to say ‘self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic quality that opens all doors for you and makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education, and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.
Boxing is arguably the hardest sport in the world, I would say it is the most difficult sport you can participate in. If you have hopes of turning pro, you are looking at training for fights which can potentially last almost 50 minutes(12×3 rounds and the 60 seconds rest between rounds). There really isn’t any shortcut you can take if you want to step inside the ring where you could be fighting for such a long time, you must have optimal fitness, if you do not, you will be found out under those bright lights as former heavyweight great Joe Louis once said. Training for a fight requires extreme amounts of dedication and self-discipline, you are going to have to work out pretty much every day, which means there will inevitably be times when you don’t want to train or want to train optimally but you are going to have to fight through it and use your self-discipline to plough through, because who knows how hard your opponent is training, they may be training harder than you.
Very often in boxing, we see it is not always the most naturally talented boxer who wins, but the fittest boxer, the one who worked the hardest outside the ring can outwork the better more talented fighter inside the ring and win the fight, often just wearing their opponent down through sheer grit and will, all that hard work, all those long runs in the early mornings or late nights have paid off. To reach the top of the sport and stay there, talent is simply not enough. Adrien Broner is a good example of this, the man is extremely talented but his poor attitude and lack of self-discipline has meant he has not been able to fulfill the early promise of his career. Boxing is rife with fighters who had talent and natural ability in abundance but their lack of self-discipline eventually caught up with them and threw them off the rails, Naseem Hamed is another name which springs to mind who as good as he was, should have been so much better. Wilfred Benitez was the youngest ever world champion in history when aged just 17yrs old he became the light welterweight world champion, yet by his mid-twenties he was a shell of his former self and already past his best as instead of putting in the hard work, he was lazy in his training and the end result was a sharp decline in his skills. At the top, everyone is talented, so talent alone just isn’t good enough any longer, you have to be disciplined. To stay at the top you must keep working hard, you cannot even relax because when you are at the top, everyone is training harder to dethrone you. Roberto Duran, one of the all time greats was the first man to beat Sugar Ray Leonard but in the return match, Leonard knew Duran had spent his months partying and eating so when the time came for the night of their rematch, Duran was not in optimal shape, having to rush through losing lots of weight, the result was a loss for Duran in the fight he famously supposedly said ‘No Mas’ and quit. The same happened to Leon Spinks, having beaten Muhammad Ali just seven fights into his career and becoming the world heavyweight champion, he had clearly spent more time in the months leading up to the rematch with Ali outside of the gym than inside, after losing his title to Ali he never did reach those lofty heights again.
Ali is someone who was very self-disciplined, he was always running, with famous quotes such as ‘I learned to run until I was tired, and then run some more’ and ‘I don’t count the number of sit ups, I only count when it hurts as that’s when it counts.’ His results speak for themselves, the greatest heavyweight in history, one of the greatest boxers ever and undoubtedly the greatest sportsman we have ever seen. Floyd Mayweather Jnr may be a savvy businessman but his mantra of ‘Hard work’ ensured he remained unbeaten throughout his career, FMJ was known for his incredible work ethic in the gym, often running late night and sparring in rounds with no time limit. As other boxers once noted about Mayweather Jnr, he trained like he was broke! Rocky Marciano was also an unbeaten champion, whose record of 49-0 was surpassed by Mayweather Jnr’s 50-0 but Marciano wasn’t the most naturally gifted of boxers, many of the men he defeated were much better boxers than Marciano but Rocky had an unquestioned attitude to hard work and training, he broke you down by applying constant pressure followed by heavy blows, all of this would not have been possible without his self-disciplined approach to training.
The benefits to self-discipline for boxing are endless, it will give you that cutting edge over your opponent when you eventually come across someone who is as talented as you, someone who can take your punches, someone who is faster than you. Your hard work and discipline will come out in these situations, when you need it most. When you have self-discipline your standards rise, you aren’t in it for the short term but for the long term which is where you really reap the rewards of self-discipline. You are also in control and in control of your life, if you have overcome yourself to train when you need to and don’t want to, you are in charge of your destiny and you are self-reliant, thus you are better able to reach your full potential. Discipline will save you from trouble inside the ring too, it will pick you up in those tough times and carry you through. The discipline of doing your training on time means there is no last minute panic when fight night is looming, you know you have put in the work and put in the effort, this saves you a lot of trouble especially mentally, resulting in a calming effect leading to a better and more relaxed performance in the ring. We all know if we haven’t put the work in, then as the time of the fight approaches, we naturally start to panic and worry about the skipped training or lack of intensity, save yourself the trouble by becoming self-disciplined and putting the work in before it ever gets to that, the ring is a very lonely place to be when you are unfit and tired and you have someone in there with you trying to knock your head off!
Being self-discipline gives you structure to your life which actually saves you time, you know when exactly you need to be ready for boxing training, you know when you have to go to bed to get up for morning training, this frees you up to do other things as you are better focused, decisions become easier and you are now driven by your boxing goals, taking on good habits and dropping any bad habits that may be a detriment to your boxing. There is no guilt of not doing the training which can weigh a fighter down and when a fighters mind is not right, defeat is only a short stop away.
So there you have it, to realise your full potential as a boxer, to become the best boxer you can be, in the worlds hardest sport with some of its fittest athletes, you absolutely must master the power of self-discipline for boxing!
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Author of: 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 *Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.
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