Shadows of The Ring: Appreciating Training Crews

By Cody Hill on November 1, 2016
Shadows of The Ring: Appreciating Training Crews
Boxing is a tough, physical sport, which could be why it’s used to reference life so often.

A fighter has no chance of winning a title match without the proper training, making the relationship between a boxer and their trainers untouchable…

A little over a decade ago, boxing seemed to be on the decline, with calls from all over for it to be banned. But the sport has since had a renaissance due to modern development in the UK and USA in the late 20th century. Boxing is a tough and physical sport, that’s for sure, which could be why it’s used to reference life so often. Life, much like boxing, knocks you down, but as a fighter, you have to get back up and continue the fight until the match is over. When a boxer enters the ring, for example, they’re not just fighting to gain the respect of viewers and opponents. They’re also fighting to support their family, escape poverty, and ultimately, live a better life.

Boxing, like most sports, requires a lot of different components to work together in order to help the sport prosper. The one question I’ve always wondered was, “Where does it begin?” and honestly, the answer still isn’t clear to me. Aside from the boxer’s themselves, a training crew, for example, is one of the most important components in the sport of boxing.

However, it seems like the only time we see the training crew is either before the fight, or after when they’ve returned from the depths of the shadows. But in all honestly, a fighter has no chance of winning a title match without the proper training from their crew, making the relationship between a boxer and their trainers untouchable.

“So what all does the trainer’s job entail?” you ask.

Well, normally, the training crew is heavily involved in the boxer’s life both inside and outside the ring. To put it differently, when a fighter isn’t competing, they’re training in the gym. Seems like a simple job, right? The job doesn’t end there though. Trainers are responsible for dealing with injuries like broken bones, dislocated shoulders, concussions, and even temporomandibular, which can lead to pain in the jaw joint. They’re also responsible for making sure the fighter is in good health, both mentally and physically, making their job even more strenuous.

Up to Scratch (A Battle Against Society)

In early bare-knuckle days, a fighter had to be able to stand up at a designated line (the scratch line) in order to be able to resume the fight after a knockdown or other break in action, such as the end of the round. But what happens when the opponent that knocks you down is the media? A platform that contains millions, if not billions of contributors and spectators. What do you do then? Do you still get up and stand in the designated line? That’s just what boxer’s and their training crews are faced with every time they step into the ring. The media is harsh, and will typically criticize the boxer’s inability to win the fight, which will then raise questions about how a particular fighter is being trained.

From a training crew’s point of view, this could mean witnessing the media release a hailstorm of false rumors about your fighter; which could then result in the fighter lashing out to defend their honor and status. Although this might seem like a rational thing to do at first, this could actually do more harm than good. Damaging a fighter’s reputation, and could result in unwanted attention from both fans and boxing officials.

By now you’re probably thinking that boxers have managers to deal with situations like this one, and honestly, you’re right, they do. But since professional boxers usually spend most of their time with the training crew, it only makes sense for them to prioritize their training crew over their manager.

Consequently, the battle with the media doesn’t just affect the fighter. It trickles down like a root running from a plant into the ground utility involving everyone in the fighter’s corner.

Down (or out) For The Count

If a boxer is down for the count (or out for the count), or defeated by his opponent, when he/she is knocked to the canvas and fails to rise within ten seconds. The phrase now refers to defeat more generally, as well as to someone who is soundly asleep or unconscious.

When a fighter is injured during a match and too stubborn to quit, it’s not only up to the referee to end the abuse. It also comes down to the training crew to recognize the signs and intervene as well in order to prevent further damage from happening. Despite what viewers, and critics, might have to say, a boxer’s safety should always be everyone’s concern if he/she is showing serious signs of head trauma, knocked out teeth or any other injuries during a boxing match.

The most common injuries trainers should be able to identify:

Concussion. This type of injury occurs in all sports, and the long-term repercussions of concussions are heavily debated by athletic observers and lawmakers even today. The injury occurs due to a heavy impact to the head.
Fracture. A bone fracture is also known as a bone break.
Shoulder dislocation. Boxers sometimes dislocate their shoulders due to improper form of an over-exaggerated movement.
Cuts and bruises. Cuts are less common in amateur boxing because the fighters wear headgear and their gloves are less tightly wound.

As an example, let’s assume that a fighter sustains a major injury during a boxing match. The injury in this case is a sprain to one of the boxer’s ligaments which prevents them from fighting. By way of example, let’s also assume you (the reader), are a part of the training crew. You’ve identified the injury and assessed the problem to get your fighter back on the road to recovery. Done, right? Wrong. Your job has only just begun. As the trainer, you’re also responsible for making the fighter is doing everything in his/her power to speed up their recovery without risking another injury. In boxing, sponsorships and endorsements are everything to a fighter and if he/she doesn’t recover in a timely manner, they could risk losing out on a big deal.

Time is working against both of you! As a trainer, you have to make sure your fighter is on the road to recovery, while at the same time, training them for the next fight. To make matters worse, companies are starting to pressure your fighter to return to the boxing ring in order for them to offer him/her a contract with them.

Are you stressing out yet?

Although this situation doesn’t occur often, it’s happened before in the past; and trainers have to figure out ways to overcome these obstacles in a timely manner.

Handing Over The Gloves

The hardest decision for any professional athlete to make is departing from those who helped you get to where you are. In some cases, however, this unfortunately does happen if a fighter isn’t doing so well in his/her boxing career. If a fighter for whatever reason isn’t having much success in their career, one of two things will typically happen.

Split. Since an individual’s reputation is everything in this sport, no fighter wants to be linked to a training crew that hasn’t produced winners in the past. That being said, training crews are also picky on who they decide to work with to protect their status. Although the two work together hand-and-hand, if a boxer continues to lose fights they will soon find themselves without a crew to train with. On the contrary, if a fighter feels that he/she isn’t being trained properly by their crew, the fighter and their manager will go their separate ways.

Walking away. Over a fighter’s boxing career, their body will go through various changes. Some of these changes, however, could result in a fighter being forced to make the ultimate decision.

Retiring. When a fighter’s body throws in the towel, it’s always in the boxer’s best interest to listen. For one, this could help prevent further injury from happening to the brain, and could also save the athlete’s life.

When athletes are faced with this resolution in the boxing profession, they will typically put up against anyone who suggest that they should consider putting the gloves away for good. Some boxer’s will even turn to painkillers like Dilaudid (hydromorphone) just so they can continue fighting. Although this is illegal, some boxers and training crew members have been caught using drugs before to enhance their fighting abilities. Which again will only damages their status.

“To be a champ, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.”—Sugar Ray Robinson
Cody Hill enjoys roaming the outdoors, and loves watching baseball. If you for some reason you can’t find him online, chances are he’s probably exploring the wilderness, or cheering on his favorite teams (Go Cubs)! Follow him on Twitter @Cody_Hill777. Thanks!


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  1. Eric 01:19pm, 11/03/2016

    Yeah, Cubs fans deserve a title. The Red Sox first, now the Cubs, I guess the Indians will be the sentimental favorite starting now. The Tribe is 0-3 in the Series going back to ‘95, and lost their last 2 in 7 games. Wait till next year AGAIN for the Tribe, and celebration time for Chicago. ENJOY!!

  2. Cody Hill 11:05am, 11/03/2016

    Eric, I’m so happy the Cubs won!! I was on the edge of my set the whole time.

  3. Eric 06:37am, 11/03/2016

    CUBS WIN!! Congrats!! Heartbreaker for Cleveland though. Hated to see either team lose that one.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:09am, 11/02/2016

    Hell, probably the Forties I had a couple of really shitty run ins in my early years as well. Which reminds me….“Rappers tend to use words sometimes that just rhyme and really don’t mean shit” (Trick Daddy, Obama’s second runner up favorite rapper to Jay Z)

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:29am, 11/02/2016

    Eric-Good take on your part. Which reminds me….I knew a guy years ago who happened to be Italian like Rocky with the same type body only more of a Lightweight and his punch was like the kick of a mule. I saw him get into it with an asshat from Detroit and he hit him a shot that lifted the shithead completely off his feet and into a benjo ditch. The bitch from Detroit called himself the “Atomic Kid” so you can see where he was coming from.

  6. Eric 05:09am, 11/02/2016

    Irish… Even with the day before weigh-ins in the pay-to-weigh era, Marciano would probably find cutting to 175lbs difficult. Marciano only weighed 180 1/4lbs for his fight with Carmine Vingo and actually fought as low as 178lbs, but his training schedule couldn’t have been more intense. I think the 184-188lbs that Marciano carried in his prime was the absolute lightest he could get and still maintain strength. I’m thinking had Marciano trained like most other fighters, he could have easily carried another 10lbs or so on his frame. Arguably, the fittest guy to ever hold the heavyweight title or any title for that matter. I usually side with the modern fighters, but I think even a 185lb Marciano holds his own with the 200lb cruisers.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:14am, 11/02/2016

    Looking at the photo above you can see that Rocky had the upper body of a middleweight. But then again, he had the pile driving ass and tree trunk thighs of a heavyweight, much like Joe Fraizer. One wonders if by today’s standards, was Marciano a Light Heavyweight or a Cruiserweight….he seems small compared to today’s Cruisers.

  8. Eric 11:18am, 11/01/2016

    No doubt that Charley Goldman had it easier with making sure Marciano was in condition than he would have with anyone else. Marciano’s work ethic was his greatest strength. Have to wonder what the hell was wrong with Gil Clancy during the second Frazier-Quarry bout. Clancy allowed Quarry to take quite the pounding while the totally inept referee,  Joe Louis, seemed to be in no hurry to stop the bout himself. BTW, even though I’m an O’s fan, I, like many others, will be rooting for those lovable losers, the Cubs. Will be hard to take two in a row in Cleveland and rebound from a 3-1 deficit, but it has been done before. The Pirates did it to my Orioles in ‘79, sweeping the last 2 in Baltimore, to take the crown. Hell, the O’s blew a 2 games to 0 lead to the Pirates in ‘71. And that was the Oriole team that had 4-20 game winners. Damn. Go Cubs!!

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