Back in 2018 former pound-for-pound star, two-weight world champion, and Hall of Famer, Andre Ward, really caught my eye on Twitter. It was a tweet thread on 10 habits you should avoid if you want to be a success in boxing. It was a real eye-opener to me and as someone who is a boxer myself, it really reminded me what it takes to be a real success in the sport and even in life.
The great thing about what Andre did here was he actually talks about lifestyle and personality stuff which sometimes doesn’t get mentioned enough or educated to up-and-coming fighters. Some points are fairly obvious, but it’s a healthy reminder for anyone who wants to go somewhere in boxing or even in life. Whether that is turning pro, having a healthier lifestyle, improving your skill set, or to even become a world champion.
Here are Ward’s 10 habits to avoid if you want to succeed in boxing.
1. Putting drugs or alcohol in your system
I think this is a fairly obvious one to start with, but also a very important one. If you are someone who is constantly drinking and taking recreational drugs in the sport… Let’s be honest… you are not going to go far, especially in boxing.
Almost all recreational drugs will almost certainly pull you up for a ban if you are to get tested at any point.
Drinking, of course, will affect your overall performance as well if you are doing this while training or even leading up to a fight.
If you are going to have a drink, use it for a chance to enjoy a special moment, don’t be doing it every weekend you have a chance. Maybe giving it up altogether is the best option for some people to give you an advantage over the rest if you want to reach the top.
2. Gaining 20-30lbs in between fights
This truly can be a fighter’s nightmare in between fights, as putting on too much weight results in you having to cut weight!
I have been really guilty of this in the past putting on too much weight while I wasn’t training and trust me it’s not fun trying to cut the weight for a fight.
This very much leads to Andre’s third point below.
3. Only training when you have a fight coming up
This is so important, by continuing to work on your boxing craft and skills when you don’t have any fight lined up will truly benefit you in the long run.
Not only will it help you continue working on improving skills, tactics and technique, but you also won’t have to worry too much about cutting weight by the time you do have to fight!
All the best fighters continually stay in the gym even after their biggest fights and if you do the same you will no doubt make more progress.
It’s essential to take a decent break, as you need to consider all training you put yourself through, but don’t stay away for too long.
4. Believing in your own hype (there is always more work to do)
Ward makes a really valid point about this as I have seen this in the boxing gym where a fighter can get caught up thinking he is the best next thing.
It’s really dangerous to believe you are “that good”, as in boxing ‘styles make fights’. You could be one of the best up-and-coming boxers around, but if you don’t continually work and learn how to adapt someone eventually will be able to break you down.
Having high confidence in your ability is a good thing to have, just don’t let it get to your head.
5. (Avoid) Loving the night-life
We all need to be able to go out and enjoy ourselves once in a while, but all too often you will hear of top boxers “loving the nightlife” a bit too much!
This can tie in with hanging out with the wrong people and goes back to the first point of taking drugs or drinking too much. Or simply just getting into trouble because of the environment your surround yourself in.
Just be careful falling into this trap too often.
6. Believing that you can’t be beat
Everyone can be beaten, it’s that simple!
As I said further above it’s good to have confidence and believe you will win against your opponent. But one punch in boxing can change everything, it’s all it sometimes takes to change a fight. Think about Buster Douglas defeating Mike Tyson or Ruiz beating Joshua – no one thought it would be possible.
Always respect your opponent’s ability no matter what, even if you really dislike them as a person. If you overestimate your opponent’s ability you will do better in the long run.
7. Listening to people who only gas you up and tell you what you want to hear
I gave the above image as an example – the number of people in Anthony Joshua’s team, I do imagine he does get criticism from some team members, but I can also imagine a lot of “Yes” men in there too!
Even with your friends outside the boxing environment, everyone telling you that you’re amazing and you did so well in your last fight is a real confidence booster. However, sometimes you need to hear the opposite opinion of someone who tells it how it is but trust at the same time.
Unfortunately, not every coach is like Micky from Rocky who will tell you how it is. The only way around this is to ask your coach about the negatives or what you can improve on, it is the best way to counteract this.
Hah! I personally have been very guilty of this in the past and it’s something we all fall victim to at some point in our life.
It’s hard to get up at 5-6 am to go for a morning run…
It’s hard to eat healthy for 2 months leading up to the fight…
It’s hard to train for boxing while you have a full-time job on the side…
But it’s turning these into habits if you truly want to have the success you want from boxing, which will reduce your laziness.
(Read my article on 6 ways to motivate yourself here for inspiration)
9. Pride (not allowing yourself to progress and be taught)
Never think that you know everything because you don’t! You simply can’t see everything that is going on in the ring. Your coach has the privilege of watching from another perspective to look at your technique and give you advice.
Listening can sometimes be your greatest strength when you are training, it can be the difference between making the right or wrong decision.
If you are unsure of someone’s advice or coaching, ask more people for their opinion to get to the bottom of what’s right.
10. Entitlement (nobody owes you anything)
The fantastic thing about boxing is that no one is entitled to anything when you first start. At the end of the day, it usually comes down to the man or woman who wants it more when you both enter the ring.
It’s not about being entitled, it’s about how hard you have to work to get there – eventually you get the reward you deserve for the work you put in. Just like with everything.
It really makes me laugh when so-called tough guys come into the boxing gym for the first time thinking they can beat up someone, only to never come back after one sparring session.
Any of these bad habits are easy to pick from time to time, we are all human after all. But it’s worth reminding yourself of these if you really want to go somewhere in a sport like boxing. It’s without a doubt a hard lifestyle if you want to reach the top, but it can also be one of the most rewarding.
To finish off I’ll leave you with this brilliant quote from Ward and I truly believe it is true:
Thanks for reading.
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