How white collar boxing made me more confident, assertive and ambitious.
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
I had done boxing classes for a few years on and off but always dreamed of one day having a real fight. I was stuck a bit of a rut of feeling bored and lost about my life after graduating, when my love for boxing was rekindled by a friend, and I decided to sign up for my first white collar fight. I didn’t think about it too much, it just felt right so I did it. If I knew how terrifying and exhausting the actual fight was going to be I probably wouldn’t have, but I’m very glad that I did as it turned out to be one of THE best experiences of my life so far.
Me being me, a personal trainer and keen exerciser, I wasn’t too worried about the fitness aspect, although the training was pretty gruelling. The real challenge for me was a mental one. The first thing I had to overcome was beating myself up for not being perfect straight away. Boxing is incredibly technical and takes a huge about of mental capacity. The thing about me is I like to think I’m good at everything, which is sadly not the case! I also don’t take criticism very well, so being repeatedly corrected and adjusted was initially very demoralising and often left me feeling so frustrated and sometimes downright raging with myself! This is not healthy and completely unnecessary as of course it takes time to develop a skill and there is absolutely no shame in starting from the bottom. The whole process taught me to forget my ego, and take pride in the progress rather than what level you are at. For me this was really good to remind myself. It was also very helpful to get some much needed practice handling constructive criticism!…after all, it’s there to help you become better which is all that matters.
What I loved about first beginning to spar is that it engages your fight, flight or freeze response but in a genuinely appropriate situation! This instinctive survival response often gets activated by all sorts of non-threatening but anxiety inducing modern life situations. It felt amazing to actually use it for what it was designed for, to FIGHT! Well, not at first. My first few sparing sessions were considerably more freeze and flight rather than fight…but eventually I was fighting.
Getting into a ring and actually attacking someone with your fists seems like it shouldn’t be a thing you're allowed to just do and call it a sport, but thankfully it is! It’s a feeling like nothing else. Who you are, your job, your qualifications, the people you know, mean absolutely nothing. The whole world and your history become insignificant and the only things left are a roped off square in a sweaty gym, you and your opponent. Your whole identity is stripped back and you’re left with the raw essence of your character. If you want to really face yourself, then this is how to do it.
Getting hit in the face provokes a lot of emotion. It doesn’t actually hurt that much, it just made me feel shocked and sometimes tearful. With time you get used to it, and you learn to be ok with getting punched! I rather enjoyed it by the end! Again, another valuable thing to get better at outside of the ring too. Getting knocked down, but it not necessarily meaning that you’re failing and getting right back up again. If anything, it’s a sign that you are trying. Which means a lot more.
When you get past all of the initial challenges and see yourself start to improve, there is no better feeling. There is something just innately empowering about the act of fighting. I can’t explain why, you just have to try it. All I know is that I was walking around, elevated to a new level of confidence and taking a lot less shit from people. I made several assertive and hugely positive decisions including, quitting my unfulfilling job and committing full-time to self employment in fitness. Without doubt, a great move. I started just going for what I wanted, with a blind faith that I would succeed and no longer accepting what I didn’t want, without guilt.
Despite being in competition with each other, the training camp was filled with nothing but love, support and positivity. When you train with the same people 3 times a week and go through such an intense experience, you really do form solid bonds and make some friends for life.
The fight night itself is something else. An evening I will never forget. With a crowd of over 100 people, including friends and family, the pressure is on. It’s one of those things you just have to shut your eyes and hope for the best. Not literally. I just tried not to over-think it and let it happen. The longest 6 minutes of my life, and easily the most energy I’ve ever exerted in that amount if time. I had no idea if I was doing well or not. I was just trying to get through each second and by the third round, absolutely desperate to hear the final bell. I did win my fight, and of course this felt good but it really wasn’t what made the experience so special.
So if you have ever even slightly toyed with the idea if signing up for a fight and you have the means to commit, flippin go for it! Who knows what change it might inspire in you.