Stepping into the ring for the first time is one of the most exciting experiences you will ever face. Your friends and family cheering your name, all eyes on you when stepping through the ropes. A white collar boxing match will make you the talk of the office, win or lose.
All over the country events take place that give everybody the opportunity to feel the rush. For six minutes you’re on top of the world and invincible. Of course until you drop your guard to get back your breath and take a huge left hook that sends you flying.
Don’t let this put you off, once you’ve taken a straight right or two to the face you realise you’re not made of glass. For the adrenaline junkies out there, it’s addictive and only makes you sharper.
What is White Collar Boxing?
This branch of the sport began in New York City at Gleeson’s Gym. Throughout the 1980’s, gym owner Bruce Silverglade would arrange informal fights between white collar members. The popularity of these fights evolved and became regular, monthly events.
Hype surrounding the sport amongst non-professional and non-amateur fighters continued to grow, and thus did the demographic attending boxing gyms. News of this spread quickly resulting in shows springing up across the globe.
White collar bouts are usually three 2-minute rounds unlike championship fights in the professional ranks. These consist of twelve 3-minute rounds. Events are more often than not held in aid of charity fundraising with organisations like Ultra White Collar Boxing raising over £18,000,000 to date for Cancer Research UK.
Shows come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the biggest in the country amass crowds upwards of a thousand people. Allowing you to be the focus of the night even if for a few minutes. Even prestigious boxing venues like Bethnal Green’s York Hall play host to white collar events.
Larger shows are governed by World White Collar Boxing Association (WWCBA) or International White Collar Boxing Association (IWCBA) to ensure strong standards throughout.
The events funded by ticket sales encourage participants to self-promote. Targets for ticket sales are also given to participants often leads to unnecessary pressure.
Controversy & headlines
Due to the nature of boxing there is always an element of risk involved. In recent years events around the UK have made headlines. Some of which include:
- ‘White collar boxing nearly killed me’ – Ben Sandiford, 20, left in a coma for 10 days with a bleed of the brain and suffered two cardiac arrests following a charity boxing match. Ben participated in just an 8 weeks training plan building up to the event.
- ‘Dad, 34, nearly killed after suffering two strokes following his first ever white-collar match’ – Adam Smith, 34, suffered serious health problems following first boxing match with just 8 weeks training. Doctors found a ruptured artery in his neck after 999 call.
- ‘Boxing promoter responds to white collar death in Nottingham’ – Lance Ferguson-Prayogg from Liverpool died in hospital the day after a bout in Nottingham.
There is a common theme amongst most white collar tragedies and incidents. The time spent training is an absolute minimum. 8 weeks isn’t nearly enough to learn the sport and get yourself fighting fit. A large number of event promoters boast that participants will be ready to fight within this short period of time.
How to train for white collar boxing
Boxing has tonnes to offer in terms of fitness, discipline and increasing confidence. Too many novices decide to train purely for the purpose of a show. The reasons should be flipped and you should decide to fight because you have trained and feel ready.
The steps below are meant as a guide only but should lead to a far more enjoyable experience:
Invest wisely in your gear
Like other sports, it’s easy to become tempted by the big brands throw money at boxing equipment. When starting out, you don’t have to. On the flip side, don’t go cheap, or at least without doing some research beforehand.
These are our recommendations on what to buy on a budget when starting your boxing training:
Gloves: RDX boxing gloves range from £25 to £50. From my experience they are the best quality within this price bracket and offer a fantastic level of support and padding. I recommend them in 16oz or 14oz for training and sparring. Click here to shop.
Wrist wraps: Lonsdale and Everlast wrist wraps can be found at any Sports Direct store or online. YouTube is host to numerous video tutorials showing how to put them on. Practice this several times prior to any striking training. Never strike a bag, pad, opponent or anything else without preparing your wrists properly.
Footwear: Boxing boots offer a fantastic level of ankle support and also look fantastic. For general cardio training running trainers will suffice. However boots are recommended for bag work, sparring and other activities that require you to focus on footwork. Click here to shop.
Clothing: As with any sports, you want to be comfortable and not restrict movement of your legs, core and arms. Loose fitting t-shirts, vests, joggers and shorts are a must as well as comfortable socks. You’ll be moving on your feet, a lot!
Protection: When moving into the realms of sparring, you’ll need to be kitted up with the following to ensure training remains safe:
- Gum shield: Shock Doctor and Opro are reputable brands of mouth guard endorsed by professionals around the globe.
- Groin protection: If you plan on having kids or at least walking upright for the rest of the day, invest wisely in protection for downstairs. Shop RDX here.
- Headgear: Lonsdale offer a fantastic range of budget head protection. As with other sporting goods, the more you spend the better the quality. Check out boxing head protection on Amazon here.
Every major city and most towns have boxing gyms. Try to avoid typical fitness clubs and health gyms for boxing training. Despite the staff being qualified in personal training and sports, they are likely to lack boxing experience and key knowledge about the training processes.
Any boxing gym with a solid stable of professional and amateur fighters will welcome you with open arms. Some clubs have membership packages and those who don’t often charge around £5 per session.
Despite common misconception, such establishments aren’t full of meatheads that want to knock you out. Everybody wants to see you do well and progress with people of all levels happy to advise and provide support.
White collar boxing: In your own time
I personally recommend training for between 6-12 months before considering stepping into the ring. This will give you an idea of what you’re capable of in terms of stamina, fitness, strength and ability.
As with anything else, the more time you commit to training the better you become. Aim for twice a week to ease yourself in. Should you and your trainer decide it’s time to fight, try 3-4 times per week.
Remember, you do not have to fight, EVER! Nobody is or will force you to regardless of how quickly you progress in the gym. The same applies for sparring with no gym having a “must get punched” clause in their disclaimer.
It is never our intention to put people off the sport of boxing. It is my most loved and most watched sport and has been for many years. The above should be a guide to help you make a more conscious decision to fight and do so safely.
The most important factor in boxing should always be safety, second enjoyment. If the fun stops, so should you. Take a time out, catch your breath and get back to it when you are ready.
Finally, you can attend a boxing gym and benefit from the high intensity training regardless of whether you plan to fight in future or not. It’s fun, it will get you sweaty and in great shape fast!