THE BUSINESS OF BOXING

AVOIDING BURNOUT

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Burnout in amateur boxing is very common.  Often promising young boxers lose sight of their goal to be an amateur champion simply because of too many fights or boredom.
 
This article was reprinted with permission courtesy of the Gazette.Net Maryland's Community Newspapers.  Read about how these young athletes and their coaches manage one of the most common ailment in our sport, "BURNOUT!"
 
This article was originally published May 11, 2006.
 

Avoiding Burnout

 


Boxers at the top of the professional ranks may only fight once per year.

On the flip side, ask an amateur fighter when was his last fight and chances are the date will be recent.

Not many county amateur boxers have lulls in action like Capitol Heights phenom Gary Russell, who cannot find a local to challenge him.

Most young boxers will be busy in the next few weeks, as the 2006 Junior Olympic Tournament Potomac Valley Association championships took place Saturday at Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing in Palmer Park. SRL will also host the Junior Olympics East Central Regional, May 19-21.

In a sport as physically demanding as boxing, the risk for burnout is a concern for local athletes and trainers. Just ask boxing veteran Sam Garrett, who teaches boxing to youths in Seat Pleasant and also assists in several county gyms.

‘‘Burnout is on the minds of coaches a whole lot,” Garrett said. ‘‘If the fighter is boxing too much and not taking time out for himself. That can happen. You have to let him do things that he likes. You can’t just bring a kid in every day. Even professional fighters take some time off. It’s a different generation nowadays.”

Garrett alluded to past times when Sugar Ray Leonard, himself, was an amateur and before, when the fighters were constantly in the gym either training, sparring or competing.

But today’s society is much different. Young athletes have more things to take up their time.

And once fighters reach adolescence, they have even more distractions. Beech Road Boxing’s Alantez Fox is living the life of a county amateur.

‘‘It’s a lot of things going on right now,” said Fox, 14, and a 4.0 student at Shugart Middle School in Temple Hills. ‘‘You have your school work that can make you very tired, then you might have a girlfriend or something. I find myself more burned out from school than boxing, though. It might be a day when you want to hang out with your friends. It’s a lot of things other than boxing.”

The Golden Gloves of America just wrapped up its national championships last month. The series of Golden Gloves bouts lasted more than a month, which means that a number of fighters — especially if they advanced — may have fought three to six times in a month, not to mention all the training necessary to prepare to fight.

PVA official Brenda Davis, whose husband Adrian Davis is head trainer of Round One Boxing, said coaches can make a difference in keeping their fighters fresh.

‘‘I don’t think there’s much of a chance for burnout if a fighter is brought along right,” Davis said. ‘‘If a coach knows what they are doing, they have activities for them to do outside of the ring. Young people tend to stray away if they feel burned out or get bored with the sport. As a good coach, you know which tournaments to put them in and which to pull them out of. You can get your fighter hurt.”

During the time a coach begins to train a boxer, a type of bond is formed. Many times that bond is unspoken, and could prove vital in training and planning.

‘‘In terms of knowing your fighter, it’s a mixed bag of coaches,” said Andrew Council, a coach at Fit 2 Fight. ‘‘Some of them do, some of them don’t. It’s a couple of good coaches that really understand the game. Not knowing your fighter usually results from not spending enough time with that fighter. If you spend time with that fighter, you learn his tendencies. You can look in their eyes and tell if he might be drained that day.”

Every fighter is different. Heavyweights train differently from lightweights. Fit 2 Fight’s Darious Moten said he and his coach are familiar with his capabilities and limits. Fox said his father and coach, Troy, can tell by the way he’s hitting the boxing mitts and the sharpness of his shots. Alantez Fox said he does not have to say a word.

‘‘Sometimes you can get burned out. My coach can tell when I’m tired,” Moten said. ‘‘Sometimes boxing gets boring. But I never find myself tired of boxing. Sometimes I might want to stay home one day. If I don’t feel up to it, I just tell my father that I don’t want to go. I’m never scared of telling my coach I don’t want to go at it. Maybe sometimes on the weekend, I may want to do something. I feel that is my time.”

E-mail Terron Hampton at thampton@gazette.net.

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