War of Words in Boxing
By: Jordan Seward
The sweet science, more profoundly known as boxing is one of the most physical sports in the world.
Boxers need to be extremely strong and fit in order to succeed in the game. But as odd as it sounds, possessing immense talent and technical skill does not guarantee success in boxing. It has been said before that boxing is like a game of chess. Now just let that resonate. How can a sport that’s main objective is to render a human being unconscious even be mentioned in the same sentence as a passive game of chess; that requires no physical fitness nor is it physically challenging.
Well, like chess, boxing requires a lot of mental strength. A boxer needs strong mental attributes in every aspect, in training, in the build up to the fight and the fight itself. Prior to the fight, it’s like a war of words – the arrogant comments, the mind games. Why is this a common denominator, simple, it’s worked before, if a boxer manages to rile someone and get under their skin it’s bound to have an effect on their opponent in regards to their training, emotional state and performance. Because of this a stigma has been attached to boxers, they’re labelled as arrogant, but in fact what they’re doing is just trying to wind their opponents up in hope it betters their chances of winning.
In the actual fight as well it’s similar to chess. In the way boxers will try to guess what their opponent is going to do next and counter it in their favour. It’s about being patient and focusing, all the while trying to stick to a game plan. As if all that’s not hard enough, keeping a clear head proves essential, which is undoubtedly harder than it sounds. Especially if it involves blocking out the screaming voices of several thousand fans on a Saturday night in Maddison Square Garden.
Arguably, to be a successful professional boxer; mental attributes are more important than the actual punching per say. Sometimes boxers can be in camp for over 8 weeks and this long strenuous routine must wear thin on some people. If the frame of mind is not at its best how can a professional boxer gain the best out of training. If there’s even an air or slight thought of defeat the fights already over before it’s begun. Because how can a boxer be motivated to get up in the early hours of the morning and slave away in the gym if they think they’re going to get beat. The boxers at the top are where they are because they believe they’re the best and this frame of mind is indispensable to a champion. Look at past greats, Mike Tyson, Nassem Hamed, Roy Jones Jr, Floyd Mayweather Jr and of course Muhammad Ali. They all had an air of confidence about them and used it. If they thought they couldn’t get beat, generally they didn’t. It just made losing that much harder if they did.
Tyson Fury’s media obligations have kicked off already ahead of his much anticipated rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. The Manchurian is currently somewhat out of shape and he cleverly began the mind games at the first press conference in Manchester, using his figure to an advantage. He mocked and laughed at his own body shape and branded himself as a fat man, undermining that Klitschko has trained hard to be the professional that he is and despite all of this he still can’t even beat a fat man. All of this sounds preposterous, but on fight night he will probably be in decent shape, needless to say, this stunt so early on in the proceedings to the fight has already piled pressure on Klitschko and his legacy.
This beautiful, subtle side of the sport can sometimes be more entertaining than the actual bout. The mental battle is long. Winning it or having the mental edge over an opponent is like winning the fight, it sets the foundations to win the war. To be the best you’ve got to believe you’re the best and sometimes this common phrase is undervalued and it shouldn’t be. The key to success is in the mind and this is no different in boxing.