Quick Tips For Ultimate Athlete Success
Quick Tips For Ultimate Success
Required reading for any fighter…plain and simple.
As a professional boxer, I have fought in 18 bouts and retired undefeated as the WIBA, IWBF, and IBA World Champion 135lb World Titles. With each fight, there have been different obstacles to overcome. Personally speaking, the last week before the fight is the most stressful time. Pushing yourself to the limit can have very severe physical and mental repercussions.
Depending upon your situation, whether you train solo or with a team, there are some tricks of the trade to remember concerning training, diet, family, etc. I’m going to lay out some things I do before a fight, in hopes they will help to enhance your training the next time you prepare to compete.
If you are a fighter, or even thinking about fighting, you can relate to these trials and tribulations. Know that you are not a freak; others have felt the way you do.
Meet Requirements Before Weigh-ins
Depending on your specific sport, there are certain paperwork and medical requirements necessary that must not be left until the last minute. If there is a licensing body that governs the sport, they will generally require specific medical tests to be done.
In the state of California, a professional boxer must appear (IN PERSON) at the Athletic Commission to obtain a federal ID card. These offices are in Sacramento and Los Angeles, so, if you are anywhere in between, you had better plan to make a trip.
Without knowing they have to see you in the flesh (weigh-ins aren’t acceptable), there can be serious last-minute problems. In addition to a federal ID, certain medical tests are required before completing your application. Among those could be: a neurological examination, an eye examination, a general physical examination, as well as, blood tests to check for HIV and Hepatitis C.
Know that results for these certain types of blood tests take 3-5 days unless you want to spend extra money on them. If you are just turning pro, without any amateur experience, they may want to watch you train to ensure your safety before licensing. These are all things that take time, and, believe me, when it comes to scheduling, the state is not always accommodating to the athlete (especially when you have waited until the last minute).
Save yourself time and stress by finding out the requirements of your specific sport as far in advance of the fight as possible. There is no substitute for preparation, whether it has to do with training or the requirements to step into the ring.
The Weight Game
When I first started training and fighting as an amateur, I was competing at 139 lbs, walking around at 145 lbs. Since turning pro in 1999, I weigh in at 132-135 lbs. Anyone that has to lose weight to make weight knows that it is a constant psychological game.
If you think you’re neurotic about making weight, you’re not alone. One of the biggest mind games we play on ourselves is weight and the way we perceive ourselves depending on what it is. When close to a fight, the first thing I do in the morning is go to the bathroom, strip naked, and get on the scale.
Then I know what I can eat. Before hydrating after my cardio workout, I get back on the scale. Then, depending on my weight, I drink or eat accordingly. I also weigh before and after I box in the evening, after I eat, and right before I go to bed. I like to know exactly what my weight is at all times and how much my eating will affect it. Some of you are shaking your heads, “Yes, I do the same thing.”
The trick to weight and making it is to start as early as you can. If you know you fight in three weeks, don’t wait until the last week to drop ten pounds. It’s not healthy, and it takes a toll on the way you feel and train.
Gradually change your portion size, and transition from carbohydrates to protein. Finally, if you still need to drop 3-4 pounds, remember a 24-hour fast before weigh-ins can almost definitely dry you out enough to make weight. I also try to weigh in on a couple of different scales, to not get tied into the fact that my scale could be off, misleading me.
When you arrive at a venue to fight and weight is an issue, try to locate the actual weigh-in scale, as well as, the floor it’s going to be on. Then, if you are questionable, you can at least jump into your sweat suit and take it off before weigh-ins.
By coming to a fight overweight, and having to work a couple of pounds off, your opponent gains a psychological advantage. First, a well-conditioned athlete does not come in as overweight. Second, if you’re tearing yourself down at weigh-ins while your opponent is already resting and refueling, you have less time to rest yourself. The worst part is that your opponent knows it too, which will feed his mind into believing he has an edge.
Fight Fatigue And Potential Illness Or Injury
Those of you who have pushed the training limit (working a full-time job, possibly tending to a wife, a husband, or children), know the troubles of daily life, in conjunction with the stress of a big fight, can lead to severe fatigue and potential illness or injury- especially those with kids.
It never fails, before every fight I have at least one of three kids come down with a cold, flu, or some kind of contagious sickness. The reality is, I’m not going to move out of the house until the fight, so try to combat it with several different strategies.
If someone I’m in contact with is sick, I wash my hands several times a day, take an Echinacea supplement and try to keep my distance. If I feel a sore throat or aches to come on, I gargle with Listerine several times a day to fend off germs, plus I try to rest as much as possible.
During the last week before the fight, when fatigue is very high, I make a trip to the doctor for a B-12 shot. By the last week of training, the body is broken down while pushing the limit, so, if there is an inkling of an injury, it’s ice ice baby. The last resort is to take the day off, which is generally avoided, and a hard call close to a fight.
You truly have to trust your instincts and decide if you are doing more harm than good by training. Once the decision is made, you have to either push through the training, no matter how hard, or not have guilty feelings, and trust that you’ve made the right decision to take off. This can be extremely difficult when the pressure of a fight is only one week away.
Last Minute Details
Fighting in your hometown, you have the luxury of being able to forget things at home, but if the promoter is flying you in, you had better make a list and check it twice. I realize that managers and trainers are there to help, but, when it comes down to you, no one is going to take care of your business the way you do. Pack the right clothes, and check the weather where you’re going.
There’s nothing worse than going somewhere and freezing, or frying, your butt off two days before a fight. Most times, there is a press conference to sell the fight to locals. Know this, and remember that you’re not only selling the fight but selling yourself as well.
Dress appropriately. Men, get your hair done (shaved, colored, etc.) before you get there. There’s nothing worse than a screwed ‘do when you’re trying to get a psychological advantage over an opponent! Double-check any paperwork for the promoter regarding licensing and medical tests (sometimes they must have originals or a seal of some sort, CHECK IT OUT!).
If you are soliciting a corner alone, make sure to pack all medical necessities. This can include a bucket, water bottle, Vaseline, cut medicine (if allowed), ice bag, end swells, q-tips, gauze, and towels. Take proper rehydrating fluids or supplements after weigh-ins (Ultra-fuel, Gatorade, etc.). Pack your fight clothes and corner jackets, etc.
If you have it, take a backup pair of everything, and, by all means, don’t forget your mouthpiece. There is nothing worse than having to get a bite-and-mold mouthpiece at a fight, especially if you train in a custom-fit one! Don’t forget the entrance music if you have it.
Part of developing your image and pumping up yourself, as well as, the crowd is the music you come into. This is one thing that can generally be fixed, even if you forget since there will hopefully be a music store down the block. Finally, remember to pack for the party after the fight, because, if you remember all of the tips in this article, you’re gonna rock!
Until next time, take it to the next level… Jenifer “All American” Alcorn