I found weight-making very difficult in my career. I don’t feel there were the experts around then that there are now in nutrition. There was a lot I didn’t know, wasn’t aware of. Weight-making really affected my career but now, with sports science having moved into the sport, I think we’re seeing the results of that. It would have helped me massively if I’d had the right advice and information on making weight.
The simple stuff is that you bring your weight down and hold it down but when you’re feeling like you’ve got the ‘flu for six weeks due to holding your weight down, you need more help than we had in those days. That old adage doesn’t always work because in some cases you’ve taken too much weight off. There’s making weight and then there’s being able to perform at a weight and keep your reactions and have enough energy to compete. A lot of boxers in the past were probably at the wrong weight and just didn’t know.
I had good people around me; the Lynch brothers were very modern but the science of the sport has moved on. We can now tell a boxer exactly what he should be eating and drinking and what weight he should be boxing at. If I had the knowledge in my career that I have now, I’d have boxed at the weight above, I’d have eaten better, I would have been hydrated far better than I was – hydration is key to performing – and I’d have eaten the right foods. There are foods that have no benefit to you, that make you sluggish and slow.
If you’re boxing today you really need to seek the advice of a top nutritionist. He’ll weigh you, work out your mass and body-fat, and what weight you can get optimum performance at. We’ve been doing that for a while now and it works perfectly. Carl Froch, for example, from the weigh-in to the fight, follows our nutritionist’s advice to a tee. Of course there are trainers who want to do everything for themselves but I’m aware I don’t understand the body as well as a nutritionist. There’s a little bit more to the body than your average boxing coach knows, including me. I’m for seeking the right advice so there’s no stone left unturned.
It’s not just about the fight and the weigh-in, it’s from the start of camp to the end. You’ll plan out what weight he needs to be at then what he needs to be eating and drinking, plus vitamins and supplements they should be taking. It’s a really big part of boxing now and if you ignore it you might be at the wrong weight and have no energy for training.
Mark Ellison is the GB nutritionist and he’s also Manchester Utd’s. He’s modern, he’s boxing-oriented, he’s an expert in his field and invaluable to us. You’ve seen over the last three years in the successful performances of the GB boxers at the Europeans, Worlds and Olympics, nutrition and weight-making strategies have definitely played a part in it. There’s been plenty of boxers who have told us that they’re a 60kg boxer or a 64kg boxer and Mark and I have sat down with them and explained that they’re not. A top nutritionist will plan a weight-making strategy and where the boxer should be at any given week and how they should be performing. I’ve learned that nutritionists should get right into the inner sanctum of the boxer and they know everything he’s eating, drinking, where he is etc. It’s just the thoroughness of a genuine top nutritionist that gives the trainer confidence come fight night that the boxer will have an engine and be able to perform. It arms you more as a boxing coach, you can relax knowing that side of things is covered.