AMATEUR boxing is more professional than the pro game.
After the 2008 Olympics, I turned professional and I soon realized that it wasn’t so professional.
I was on the England/GB boxing team for around nine years and I didn’t realize just how good I had it in the last few when I was training for the Olympics until I turned pro.
The support team we had were amazing. We had world-class trainers, physios, doctors, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, psychologists, masseuses, great food, great accommodation, the best training facilities and we were surrounded by other champions day in, day out – and all of this was paid for.
Then I turned pro and it was time to look for a trainer. I found one in Manchester, but I had to pay for my travel and accommodation and on top of that, the trainer’s 10% fee.
If you had an injury? That’d be £50 for a physio out of your own pocket. Oh, you’re feeling stiff? No problem – £40 for a massage.
If your eardrum popped? (Which mine did) Let’s get that checked out – a private doctor would cost £300.
If you wanted to eat healthily? Go for it, but on your own expenses. Decided to have high-quality sparring sessions? Ok, that’ll be £25 per round plus their travel expense.
This wasn’t the only thing, though. Because you could say I was the “A” side, I picked the gloves for me and my opponent. I had my gloves weeks before the fight which meant I could train with them, wear them in, if I wanted.
I couldn’t believe this. Then, after the fight, I could take the same gloves home and train in them some more and then fight again in them for all of my fights if I wanted. This was so unfair to my opponents, but I obviously didn’t mind.
You’d then arrive at the venue with no idea what time I was fighting so you had to stay warm for a couple of hours; in the amateurs, you knew exactly when you would be fighting.
Also in the amateurs, you could trust just about everyone. The club trainers were not being paid so they were in it purely for the love, while the world-class amateur program trainers were on a set salary, but had all been volunteer coaches for most of their life so we knew that they were honest and genuine people.
As a professional, the promoters were the nicest people you’d meet to your face and promised you the world, but they always had a motive as this is now a business and the number one thing they care about is money, then themselves, then the fighters, but I totally get it, I really do.
I remember before I signed pro, I was being pressured by one high-profile promoter to sign and they said the deal was only there for 24 hours before it was gone. This was after being treated to a fancy meal and drove around London in a £250,000 Rolls Royce. He was using scare tactics on a 23-year-old inexperienced businessman. I never ended up signing with that guy.
I do have to say I much preferred the amateurs over the pros but at the same time as a pro, I earned a decent chunk of change that I would never have made doing anything else in life. Plus, I learned a lot about people and business, so I never regretted going pro.
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