Category Archives: Training

September 25, 2014
September 25, 2014

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BOB joined us after his fight with Ovill McKenzie in 2009 [Ajisafe was dropped heavily in the opening session, only to eke out an eight-round decision]. He has an awkward style, not the most pleasing, a southpaw who can look all arms and legs. People had tried to change him completely around but he was 24 by then so we just tried to iron out the things that didn’t particularly work.


What he used to do and sometimes still does even now is throw the jab then step back, bring his right foot back, in line with his left, so he’s square on, before moving his left foot back. We’ve worked on keeping his distance right, by keeping him doing footwork drills on the lines we have painted on our gym floor, watching him moving along them, especially backwards. We also do a drill we call ‘combination blows’, where the fighter moves back and forwards in a straight line and hits the heavy bag with various combinations. You stand over the fighters and remind them on that drill to move the front foot forwards first when going forward, the back foot backwards first when moving back. That way you’re never square-on. Bob’s done a lot of that too.


There was a bit of convincing with Bob to do body sparring when he’d only ever done open sparring. When he first came here, I said, ‘Have you ever done body sparring?’ He said no, and the first time he did it, all the other fighters beat him up. Later on, he said, ‘My body’s in bits.’ But you have to be prepared for good bodypunchers, how to defend against them and body sparring fills in the gaps before you start the open sparring phase; we still teach them to keep their hands up, even in body sparring. If you imagine a top-level boxer fights 36 rounds per year plus they spar three times a week for 12 weeks in their training camp – 12 rounds per spar – that’s 36 sparring sessions or 432 rounds on top of potentially 36 from fighting, that’s a lot of damage to the head. You can’t build up resistance around the head, you can only improve the reflexes to avoid head shots. I also told him body sparring helps to condition his body, because a good body shot – one that drops a fighter – nine out of 10 times it finishes them, where often you see boxers getting up to win after being decked with a head shot.


One challenge was getting him to stick to a plan in a fight and not just improvising all the way through. He was a whirling dervish and did not always realise what he was doing. Before, he would throw a hundred shots and land five, but we wanted him to throw five and land five. I explained to Bob that fighting is not just about going toe-to-toe or scoring more shots than your opponent. You can’t throw sand at something and hope it hits, you throw stones and make sure they hit. Against Tony Bellew [a competitive points defeat], we planned to take away his power shots and keep frustrating him by popping him with the jab, not letting his feet get set. The stuff you teach on the pads and practise in sparring, that’s where all the tactical work is done, not the one minute you get in between rounds. Once you’ve got a habit in training, it becomes second nature, instinct. It’s all about looking at your opponent’s strengths, nullifying them and then working to the best of your own ability. Don’t work to your opponent’s strengths. Floyd Mayweather never fights his opponent’s fight, he makes them fight his.


Bob was already a good runner but we had to introduce him to strength work. He hadn’t done a lot of that and in the gym at first, the smaller kids would be able to physically push him around. We worked on leg strength and his rear chain. Lifting weights actually helped improve his punching power, it doesn’t for everyone, like for Kell Brook it only made him stronger in the clinches and so on. We did some deadlifting, a lot of rowing movements – including bent-over rows – for his back, a lot of shoulder work. Compound movements rather than isolated, and, as we were coming closer to fights, we’d do more ballistic stuff – fast movement of weights. With the way he was making weight, a lot of times he felt drained going into fights. A lot of people associate eating clean with not having chocolate or ice cream, but you’ve got to restrict calories at some point if you’re making weight. Probably guys like Bob think, ‘I’ve trained hard, eaten well, but I’m hungry so I’ll just eat something else and burn it off with a run tomorrow.’ Until they associate calorie expenditure with calorie intake, it’s an issue. I sat down and explained all this to him and gave him a basic meal plan to work to, then we monitored his weight. Boxers might think they need to eat more if they feel weak. But you’re going to feel weak sometimes if you’re training hard. Then, you can either train less or sleep more, but there has to be a balance.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

September 18, 2014
September 18, 2014

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PAUL BUTLER won a world crown in a record fewest number of fights for an Englishman when he leapt up to bantamweight to capture the IBF belt from Stuey Hall. He returns immediately to super-fly to try to win a second world title from Zolani Tete.

Essential to his achievements is of course his performance in the ring and daily work with trainer Anthony “Arnie” Farnell in the boxing gym. But Butler has also been using the strength and conditioning coaches at the No Limits Gym in Liverpool, Chris Tamm and Danny Withington. They offered some insights into the support they’ve provided to help him dance through the divisions.


Butler’s boxing is at the heart of his training regime. His strength and conditioning work has to complement it, not hinder it. “We’ve got to make sure that if we do anything with him, the next day he can still go in and perform with Arnie and box because that’s what he’s there for,” said Chris Tamm. “We don’t want him to have sore legs or sore arms or anything like that. The Monday at the start of the week when he’s at his freshest, he’ll do his lifts, again the lifts are not too strenuous, it doesn’t last too long, then Tuesday he’s fine, Wednesday he’s back in with us, we’re working on minor stuff again or developing new techniques, so again he’s fresh for the Thursday and Friday. His toughest session will be the Saturday, conditioning.”

Danny Withington emphasised, “One of the major things is we have contact with Arnie often and also [Paul’s] dad. So we have good contacts with them, we work as a team together. When we first met them we had a real good sitdown and a good chat and discussed what the possibilities are and where we were going. That was discussed prior to the first camp. That was done so that me and Chris could periodise everything, prepare everything.”


They didn’t try to force new exercises on Butler until he was ready for them. “When he first came to us, he’d never even lifted anything. We didn’t straight away get him under a bar. We put him on bodyweight [exercises] first because we believe in setting a good foundation up first. If someone can’t do a press-up, we don’t understand why they should get under a bench and start trying to bench press,” Chris explained. “Then you introduce unilateral stuff, dumbbells, once they’re comfortable with dumbbells, then you introduce bars, once they’re comfortable on strength then you introduce speed and power.”

Paul progressed from bodyweight exercises, to using the TRX suspension training before getting on to lifting weights, firstly with compound lifts for strength, before eventually advancing to Olympic lifts for speed and power. Danny continued, “What we’ve started introducing now are Olympic lifts, so a hang clean, power cleans, hang snatches. Too many people start that far too early when they’re not ready. So we’ve created a solid base by doing compound lifts, so it allows us to be more aggressive with our functional training.”


“I’m not into the running at all,” Chris revealed. Long distance running can have a negative impact “on the joints, inflammation, lowering testosterone levels, actually being bad for the body because it raises cortisol, which is the stress hormone”.

“The fighters will still do the occasional run, once a week, just to know that they’ve got it in the legs to go that distance but we do sprint work and conditioning-based stuff,” he continued.

“You want to try and work at maximum effort for between 10 to 30 seconds. Obviously the shorter the time, the more related to just pure power it is. The longer time you sprint for you’re starting to cross the boundaries into strength endurance and muscle glycogen stores, which is how much carbohydrate you store in the muscle. A good mark for a sprint would be 20 seconds, then rest for a minute and repeat that anywhere between six and 10 times. Or the other way of doing it is, you can make it even more sport specific and you can sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10, sprint for 20 seconds rest for 10 and repeat that for three minutes and that replicates what’s going to happen in a ring.”

Danny added, “We wouldn’t advise you did that for more than say one round max, you don’t need to.”


“If you’re going to be a world-class athlete, you’ve got to start sorting your food out,” Chris declared. “We worked out appropriate numbers to go up in weight comfortably without putting body fat on and maintain lean muscle.”

They used a calorie counting app (you can get one from MyFitnessPal for instance) to record what food he was eating. “People think it’s different because he’s going up in weight. He’s still actually making a weight. He’s still going up to make weight,” Danny said of his move up to bantamweight. “You’re still making the weight correctly.”

“Boxers massively under-eat. Compared to the amount of work that they’re exerting their body through,” Tamm said.

“We have a set diet plan for fight camp, then another diet plan for fight week. We have a final day’s worth of food intake for the last 24 hours before he weighs in and then we also start calculating foods on the re-feed so as he’s weighed in, we’ve got a specific drink for him with set numbers of carbohydrate, and food.”

Now Butler is moving down in weight, the challenge is to keep those strength gains. “We’re going to have to recalculate it and give him less calories and less intake of food,” Chris said. “What we don’t want to do is drop him too fast too soon and then he loses too much muscle which is what we were working on trying to build on anyway. We want him to maintain as much lean muscle as possible, go in to the weigh-in with as little body fat as possible and be in prime condition.” As Withington insisted, Butler can still become “more powerful. This is his weight now, this is where he needs to win that world title again and he knows that.”

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

September 11, 2014
September 11, 2014
Pele Reid on Vitali Klitschko

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PLYOMETRICS are exercises that aim to produce fast, powerful movements by improving the elastic ability of both the muscle and tendons. After last week’s routine for the lower body, here strength and conditioning coach Barrie Edwards provides an upperbody workout for you to begin plyometric training, just ensure you complete a dynamic warm-up and stretches before attacking the routine.


Once in the routine each exercise should be done for three sets – with a 45-second rest between sets – before moving on to the next station.


  • PLYO PUSH-UP – Assume a press-up position with feet shoulder-width apart.Slowly lower down into press-up position. Powerfully push up with arms, hard enough to allow hands to leave the floor, before landing softly back into start position.


  • PLYO INVERTED ROW – Hold bar from below with feet elevated on a bench and body straight. Slowly straighten arms and lower your body down until arms are extended. Powerfully pull up! Allow hands to leave the bar briefly before re-gripping the bar and starting the next rep.


  • SINGLE-ARM WIPERS – Place a 20kg weights bar in a secured position. Stand with one hand gripping the bar, and body in position shown. Powerfully pull the bar upwards and across the body, then release and switch grips into the other hand during the movement, lowering the bar down and facing the other way as shown. Start slowly until you are comfortable with the technique before adding speed, and weight to the bar, if desired.


  • MEDICINE BALL SLAM – Stand straight with legs just wider than shoulderwidth apart to enable ball to fit between legs. With back straight lift an 8-20kg medicine ball above head as shown. Powerfully slam the ball down into the floor, trying to maintain a straight back through-out. Catch ball on the bounce up.


  • OVERHEAD MEDICINE BALL THROW – Stand, legs just wider than shoulder-width apart, grasping the ball with bent arms with elbows tucked in. Dip body a few inches by bending knees as shown, and powerfully throw the ball as high as you can, keeping your back as straight as possible. Move backwards and let ball drop to the floor.


  • MEDICINE BALL SIDE SLAM – Stand, legs just wider than shoulderwidth apart, grasping the ball with bent arms with elbows tucked in. Move ball over to the right as shown then rotate and lift up, around and over head in a circular motion and powerfully slam towards your left foot as shown. Repeat on the opposite side.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

September 3, 2014
September 3, 2014

Action Images

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Times may have changed but one thing remains constant, from Barry McGuigan’s era to the modern age: to get to the top you need to have the right work ethic. “I worked hard. Even after [Eusebio] Pedroza [when McGuigan won the world title], the Sunday after the Saturday I spent 15 minutes in the sauna shadow-boxing and going through my routines. A bit like Bernard Hopkins, I loved to train. If anything, I overtrained, I made myself sick of it. But it worked too, I had a very high level of fitness, I could fight at a very intense pace, which most guys couldn’t fight at,” Barry said.

His son Shane now trains Carl Frampton, another hard worker. But there are areas where modern boxing training has evolved. Shane’s fighters work hard, but in a different way. “I’d say strength and conditioning and nutrition would be the main ones. With strength and conditioning, people are loading up their legs, they’re getting their legs strong because they’re using their feet a lot more than they did,” said Shane. “[You might] think, ‘Do your long runs, then do your padwork and your sparring and you’ll be fine.’ The thing about long runs, it slows you down. You’re doing a repetitive motion all the time. When you’re boxing, you’re never going to be at one pace, you’re never going to throw the same shots all the time. It’s fighting in bursts and being explosive.”


There were hints of that approach in Barry McGuigan’s training. He ran at a high pace, saying, “I used to love to burn guys out when I was on the road and I was a pretty decent middle-distance runner.”

Shane is scientific in the sprint sessions he lays on for his fighters, frequently varying them. “If he’s close to the weight he’ll do more power stuff. So shorter distances, slightly longer rest. When he’s further out he’ll do longer distances, maybe 400m with a shorter rest. But they’re all based around 400m and below. All fast explosive pace, lots of 100s, 200s, 400s.

“You can do 100m, rest 30 seconds, 100m again, there’s loads of different
ways but as long as it’s always training that explosiveness – that’s the key.
We keep one steady-state run in there, we always do a five-miler once a week, normally on a Saturday, once the sparring, weights and pads are all complete.
We’ll still run at a six-and-a-half-minute-mile pace.”


Sparring is still paramount. “Sparring was and is the most important part of training because it simulates the real McCoy,” said Barry. “I used to spar big guys all the time. What Carl [Frampton]’s doing now is typical. I didn’t pull any punches when I sparred… I sparred hard and all my sparring partners were paid and they hit me as hard as they could, it was the same every time in sparring. It was hard graft. Occasionally we’d spar technically but it was hard graft because it had to simulate the real thing and I sparred really, really good kids.”


Barry McGuigan would start a typical training day with running at 8.30 or 9am. “I don’t know why people run at six o’clock in the morning when you’re fighting at 10 o’clock at night. I don’t quite understand that methodology,”
he said. “As long as you’re putting the effort in and you’re making your heart work really hard when you’re doing your interval stuff, that’s what it’s about.”

Shane has gone one step further. His fighters have their boxing session in the morning and then in the evening either do weight-training, if they’ve been sparring, or running. “We do our boxing training first, that’s the most important session of the day. That’s where they want to be fresh. All the strength and conditioning and the running and the sprints, they’re not going to be sprinters, they’re not going to be weightlifters, it’s all for their boxing. First up we make sure we put all our time and effort into the boxing and that’s normally about 11am,” Shane explained.

“I do a lot of technical work on the pads. That’s where people learn, it’s the most realistic movements. We do heaps and heaps and heaps of pads. Carl today he did 11 rounds on the pads with me and then he did one round on the bag to finish off with and then he did three rounds of shadow-boxing.

“A lot of padwork is technique stuff. Get your conditioning from hitting the bag, get your conditioning from doing the pads and your high-intensity skipping and stuff like that. We’ll start sparring with Carl and then after that he’ll warm up, he’ll get taped up, he’ll spar. We always spar first, we won’t do our pads first. Then if he spars eight rounds, we’ll finish off with four on the pads, or if he spars six rounds we’ll do maybe four on the pads and two on the bags but we’ll always make up the 12 rounds, even when we’re far out in camp, just because it helps get the weight down.”

Where the boxer is at in his training camp or sparring will inform his evening workout.

“It’s all periodised; when they’re further out we do more circuit-based stuff and then when he starts doing his heavy sparring, [the weight-training] becomes more strength-based, the reps get lower and then the last couple of phases we go a bit more into power. There’s always like a deload week, a week, 10 days before the fight, because you need to atrophy the guys [decrease their muscle mass] because they want to get into that weight category, be as light as they can but as big as they can for their weight category. There is definitely a science to it and 10-12 weeks out it’s all planned before they come into camp,” Shane explained.

Barry echoed his son’s view on the need for a scientific approach to modern boxing training, particularly when it comes to nutrition for weight-making. “Strength and conditioning is becoming a major focus on training. Steady-state running, most fighters are still doing it because it’s easy,” he noted but added, “making weight is still the biggest issue.”

For the full preview of Carl Frampton’s world title fight in Belfast don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News

August 19, 2014
August 19, 2014
Tim Bradley new

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JOEL DIAZ, the trainer of former world champion Timothy Bradley, extols the virtues of footwork.

“I think a fighter’s footwork is his best defence; if you can learn to manage your feet in the ring, you’ll be in good shape,” the California-based coach explains. “The feet protect every single fighter and they set you up for every shot, by moving you into position and changing angles. Footwork is the most important thing in a fighter. The feet can get you into range and out of problems.”

Footwork goes both ways

Anyone who has seen Bradley fight will know how crucial footwork is to his overall strategy. Whether rolling forward as a busy aggressor against a Devon Alexander or taking evasive rearguard action versus a Ruslan Provodnikov, Bradley uses arguably his two best assets, his feet, to set up the rest of his arsenal. They serve to create openings offensively and to carry him rapidly out of the danger zone when on the retreat. Diaz is keen to place a little more emphasis on the defensive side.

“Timmy always had good footwork because in the amateurs he was a great mover, a good boxer and we have implemented a lot more defensive footwork since he’s turned professional,” Diaz reveals. “So we worked on staying low and using angles, and he started getting better.”

The assessment

Given Diaz’s staunch believe in the importance of footwork, it comes as no surprise that this basic but vital skill is one of the first things he examines when a boxer arrives at his facility.

“When a fighter first comes to my gym, I assess their footwork,” he tells us. “In the ring, I stand in front of them and move forward – towards them – back, side-to-side. I want to see their motion and most get confused. If I have them in the ring, if I go forward, I want them to move back – sometimes they go forward, because they can’t stay in the same spot – and if I move to the side, I want them to move with me. When they don’t do that, I know I need to work on getting them to move their feet; I don’t like flat-footed fighters.”

The next steps

The initial assessment is only the beginning of a gradual and perpetual learning curve. Diaz’s approach to footwork could be termed holistic, because even when it appears his fighters are working on other areas of their game, the perceptive trainer always has one eye on their feet.

“We do a lot of different drills, in the ring and outside the ring,” he notes. “We have a lot of ways, different strategies and workouts, to sharpen footwork. For example,
I have my fighters always bouncing on their feet, even when hitting the heavy bag. Yes, they need a solid foundation in order to hit hard, but to dominate with angles you need good footwork and to hit harder with speed and accuracy is much better.

“When I take my fighter on the mitts, I look at him from every angle, to make sure his footwork is good, his handspeed, good power, everything.”

Climbing the ladder

Footwork ladders are no longer a secret in boxing. Many fighters use them – darting in and out of the small boxed sections – to improve speed and coordination, and Bradley is no exception. But Diaz is eager to point out the reasoning behind doing these drills in the ring, rather than on the gym floor.

“We have 15-20 different ways of using a ladder in the ring,” he details. “I prefer fighters to do ladder drills in the ring, rather than on the gym floor, because the padding gets your legs more tired. When you work on your feet on solid ground you get less tired than on padded ground, and of course in an actual fight you’ll be on the canvas.”

Don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News for more essential training information

August 19, 2014
August 19, 2014
Nicola Adams

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The dangers of under-eating are widely known and acknowledged in health and wellbeing, but could disordered eating or even prolonged under-eating be affecting your boxing performance and your health?

The Female Athlete Triad is a model that has been developed to help diagnose disordered eating within female athletes and the effects this may have. The Triad is made up of three interrelated conditions: energy availability, menstrual function and bone strength. If a female athlete is suffering from one of the three conditions it is more than likely that they could be suffering with the other two conditions as well.

Energy availability is defined as “the dietary energy intake minus exercise energy expenditure”. For example if an athlete consumes 2800 kcal per day and burns 900 kcal per day training and from other exercise leaves 1900 kcal for the remaining essential physiological processes.

Low energy availability in athletes can come about through eating disorders but the majority of cases are through more sport specific circumstances (which may be harder to notice than an eating disorder) e.g. when restricting energy intake too much in an attempt make weight or increasing training volume and intensity without an increase in dietary intake. As athletes have greater exercise energy expenditure than non-athletes the risk of low energy availability is far greater and can have a more profound effect when compared to non-athletes. Energy availability below 30 kcal per kg of fat-free mass reduces reproductive function and bone density. For example, a 60 kg female boxer with 20% body fat (48 kg fat-free mass) would require at least 1440kcal per day remaining after exercise energy expenditure has been taken into account. If this exercise energy expenditure was 900 kcal per day a minimum intake to avoid any negative symptoms would need to be 2340 kcal (1440 kcal + 900 kcal = 2340 kcal).

The normal menstrual cycle can stop due to a reduction in in gonadotrophic hormones which play a role in stimulating oestrogen release from the ovaries. Heavy exercise combined with a low energy intake can reduce oestrogen levels to an extent that the menstrual cycle can be made irregular or even stop.

The reduction in oestrogen that stops the menstrual cycle, in conjunction with a poor diet (specifically low in calcium and a low Vitamin D status) also leads to the weakening of bones through a reduction in bone density (osteopenia), and greatly increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life. This weakening of the bones can lead to increased incidence of fractures, stress fractures and other injuries. This aspect of the triad could have the most severe effect for later in life, as a low bone density at as an adolescent/young adult will likely lead to bone health issues (osteoporosis) later in life. This highlights the importance to avoid bone health issues throughout this development phase.

The good news is that the training boxers complete may help preserve bone mineral density by being mostly compromised of weight-bearing exercise. The frequent running, sparring and gym work places load on the bones which in turn helps strengthen bones and may reduce the impact of a low energy intake and poor diet on bone health.

It has also been shown that food deprivation of 30% increased hunger, whereas and energy expenditure increased by 30% had no effect upon hunger, showing that the body has trouble increasing hunger to encourage eating to match energy expenditure. This 30% increase without a corresponding increase in energy intake would be enough to reduce reproductive function and affect bone health. Furthermore intense exercise can suppress the hunger. Therefore by eating to hunger you may not be in taking the required amount of energy you require, meaning may need to eat more than you think you need to.

Also note, although the symptoms seen are often less severe, low energy availability can also been seen in male athletes and should not be ignored. Bone health and reproductive function can also decrease in male athletes with low energy availability, so it is important that the male athletes out there also pay attention (maybe not to the menstruation part though).

Tips to Help Prevent Low Energy Availability

  • During periods of increased training volume or intensity, leading to increased exercise energy expenditure your food intake should increase to mirror the increase expenditure. This will help prevent an unnoticed reduction in low energy availability.
  • Avoid “crash dieting” and drastically reducing energy intake when making weight, plan your weight loss around a slower, more gradual weight loss over an extended period of time. Again this will increase energy availability and reduce the risk of factor outlined before.
  • Make sure your intake provides you with at least 30 kcal per kg of fat-free mass after your energy used from exercise have been taken into account (a Sport Nutritionist can easily calculate this for you).
  • Ensure a good intake of calcium by aiming to consume at least 2 servings of leafy green fibrous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach and kale) plus two servings of low fat dairy per day. If lactose intolerant you may need to increase green veg intake or opt for a calcium supplement to ensure you are consuming enough calcium, however consult a Sport Nutritionist before taking supplements. A good intake of calcium will help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteopenia and also osteoporosis later in life.
  • Also ensure that you have good exposure to the sun (but not too much that you burn!) as 90% of the Vitamin D we receive is created from the sun’s rays. Instead of running in the dark gym, try to go for a run outdoors in short sleeved t-shirt/vest and shorts. Vit D is required for the absorption of calcium, so a Vit D deficiency may result in reduced bone density even if you are in taking enough calcium. In winter Vit D supplementation may be required as there is very little sun, also the rays that create Vit D do not reach our country between Oct-April, increasing the chances of deficiency. Again, consult a Sport Nutritionist before supplementing.
  • Eat to training load and energy intake and not to hunger. Exercise may suppress hunger and increased exercise energy expenditure may not lead to increased hunger. Meaning you may not feel hungry but are desperately requiring more calories. If you are full but know that you need more energy, try smoothies and shakes as an easier way of getting your energy in.

However the greatest piece of advice would be if you experience any of the above “Female Athlete Triad” symptoms then consult your doctor or a sports nutritionist as soon as possible. Some of these side effects may be irreversible so taking action sooner rather than later is vital.

Tom Whitehead is a nutritionist for soulmatefood. To see what soulmatefood’s sports kitchen can do for you, click here.


August 19, 2014
August 19, 2014
teaching boxing

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LIFE doesn’t necessarily end with boxing. Tony Jeffries won an Olympic bronze medal but his career as a prizefighter was curtailed by troublesome hands.

“Up until a year ago, I missed it. I got depressed after retiring. I didn’t want to retire. But now I don’t miss fighting at all. My life’s better now than it ever has been. I never thought I would be saying this,” Jeffries started.

He had been training in the USA with Tommy Brooks and, after getting a green card, set up his own Box N Burn gym. The man from Sunderland sounds surprised at how successful he has been. “Life is really good out here, shorts and T-shirts all the time, the gym’s booming. We’re rated the best gym in Los Angeles at the minute,” Tony said. “Life is so easy when you’re not boxing, boxing is the hardest sport in the world, when you’ve got to diet, when you’ve got to train six days a week. You’re constantly thinking about your next fight.

“Not having to diet, in the sun, it’s like living on holiday every day.”

His Box N Burn gym has seen famous faces, like Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and American football player Tim Tebow, pass through its doors. More intriguingly top UFC fighter, Brendan Schaub has enlisted Jeffries as his head trainer. “It’s something completely different to boxing, but I enjoy it,” Tony explained. “It’s very important for UFC, for guys to have good footwork. That’s what I’ve been working on with Brendan.

“Footwork and a lot of feints, especially in the heavyweight division they’re normally flat-footed walking forward. Put in a lot of feints, head movement, just keeping the hands as fast as possible.”

Jeffries now writes the mixed martial artist’s training programme and handles his conditioning. He’s also in charge of Schaub’s corner for fights. “I’ve cornered an amateur boxing bout before but never a professional one. I’d never been to a UFC tournament and I went to Toronto, it was a packed stadium with 15,000 people or more. It was so loud,” Tony explained. “It was pretty nerve wracking doing that but it went well.” Schaub won in the first round and publicly praised Jeffries for his help.

With footwork, head movement and feinting essential for a boxer or even a UFC fighter, here Tony details some essential training drills.


I put cones in a triangle, start at the bottom in the middle of the triangle, then you go forward, in your boxing stance, up around the top cone, back round the bottom left, back round the top cone then bottom right. This way you’re moving in all different directions, forward back, diagonal, side to side. When you’re doing that you’ve got to concentrate on keeping your feet apart the whole time, never bringing your feet together, when moving to your left move your left foot first, when you move to your right, move your right foot first, when you move forward, move your front foot first, when you move back, move your back foot first. Never bring your feet together, they should be apart. To do that, you’ve got to do smaller foot movements.

Another one, you can scatter cones all around the ring and then you got your hands up and you move around and each time you come to a cone, you pivot either left or right and then go in that direction and go forward, you come to a cone, pivot, then go in a different direction. Or you come to a cone and you throw a one-two or a little combination, then change direction and go the other way.

Head movement

What Tommy Brooks, my trainer used to do with me was just tell me to move my head after every punch or every combination. When you’re on the bags, or on the mitts, or shadow boxing, you’re constantly moving your head. He used to drill it into us. So before and after every combination move your head, this way you get in the habit of moving your head and then you’re not a standing target. If I’m fighting you and you’re just standing there in front of me with your head in one position, I’m going to throw the punches and I’m going to hit you or you’re going to move out of the way then. If you’re in front of me with your head moving constantly, it’s harder for me, it takes the confidence out of me throwing the punch because your head’s moving. If you’re moving your head as well, I’m thinking is he going to come back with a punch, when are you going to throw the punch. Keep moving your head to confuse your opponent.


Feinting, you’ve got to do it exactly the way you’re going to throw a punch… It’s good to throw a feint to see what your [opponent’s] reaction is. Say if I’m jabbing you and if you’re catching it with your right hand, then I know next time I throw a feint, your right hand’s going to come away from your face and I’m going to hit you with a left hook. So I jab you in the body, I jab you in the body again, next time I’ll feint the jab to the body, you’ll drop your hands to block it, I’ll come over the top with a left hook. But the feint’s got to be so realistic. So I’ve got to use my eyes, every part of the body to make it so realistic.

You practise it in training, shadowboxing, on the bags, in the sparring, with a partner. Another good way of practicing it and it’s great for the footwork as well was an Olympic drill that we did where, say me and you are using the ring together, we’ve both got our hands down by our side, in our boxing stance, I’ve got to try to touch your shoulder, you’ve got to try to touch my shoulder with either hand and you’ve got to move your feet to get out the way or move your upper body to move. It’s a really good workout. Then I can practise my feints on that as well.

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