|The State Of Today's Boxing Game: The Decline Of Amateur Boxing In The United States
By Brad Marchetti, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 11, 2009)
There is a cancerous problem today in the boxing world with too many inept boxers and trainers in the United States. The only semblance of actual skilled boxing I have seen as a member of the sports media is at the world-class level. Most local boxing cards are usually a crude version of the sweet science without much science behind it at all. While not every boxer can be a Sugar Ray Leonard, there are fundamentals that are not even being used by today's boxers. Most boxing fans are knowledgeable and have noticed the diminished skil level of today’s pugilist. The ability to get out of the way of a punch is rarely being taught properly nowadays. Even some of the more promising boxers end up getting permanently brain damaged when they step up in class against boxers that have real punching power.
This problem really started in the mid 1990's when the U.S.A amateur boxing started to have less and less fights due to lack of funding. Amateur boxing is where boxers learn the skills necessary to become competent professionals. With amateur boxing now is a state of disarray all of the good trainers decided to turn to the pro game to make money. There really has been no tried solution to this problem because of weak pro boxing commissions that really do not care about the welfare of the boxers or the sport. The commissions all operate from their own separate rules so there is no national boxing commission. Because there is a different boxing commission for each state that makes their own set of rules, corruption is everywhere.
With all of the quality boxing trainers bolting for the pro game, the mediocre trainers that were left in the amateurs have in turn produced mediocre fighters. Every once in a while one of these average trainers will find a fighter that can get by on natural talent alone without learning proper boxing fundamentals. Eventually though, talent alone only goes so far, and these gifted boxers talent’s are wasted due to poor boxing instruction.
It is no coincidence that 40+ year old fighters are having great success in the pro ranks. These older fighters were taught the proper fundamentals and have thrived because of it. The United States won only 1 medal at the 2008 Olympic games against better schooled European boxers. One solution to this problem could be for the wealthy retired ex-fighters to give something back to the amateur program and start supplanting some of the ineffective amateur trainers.
While not all retired boxers become good trainers, the majority of them do. Another solution to the poor preliminary bouts could be for the boxing commissions to check amateur records to ensure quality fights. Legendary NY boxing trainer Milton Lacroix had this to say: “The problem with boxing now is that you have 8 winners and 8 losers when you look at a bout sheet. You have the promoter’s fighters on the winning side, and then you have the opponents on the loser side.” While in some cases mismatches in boxing are necessary to build a fighters record, this has now become an epidemic.
For a boxer to develop mentally he must face a couple of fighters who will give them a run for their money. All the muscles in the world don’t mean jack if your boxer is soft as butter mentally. These ineffective trainers are doing their boxers no favors by constantly putting them against lollipops. Boxing trainers in today’s game coddle their charges way too often. Boxing is a rough game. It is a boxing trainer’s job to push their man when he faces adversity. Today’s trainers frequently ask their boxers if they want to continue once they are bleeding. This is unacceptable. For a boxer to excel they need to be pushed by their corner man when things get rough.
As a boxing coach, it is up to you to properly train your athlete into competition and into the winner’s circle. A well training boxer is physically and mentally fit and strong. He must possess all of the necessary skills needed to dominate his opponent and the tools necessary to perform at the top of his game.
Even Mike Tyson almost quit in his amateur days. Teddy Atlas recalls from an amateur fight when Tyson was in his developmental stage and was near quitting when things got tough in the ring in his book ATLAS. “I could see in Tyson’s eyes what was about to happen. He was going to quit…. If I didn’t do anything he was going to go down. It was a watershed moment for him, a real defining moment, because if he had quit then he might never have become Mike Tyson”.
Another solution would be to make for the boxing commissions to demand more from their trainers. All trainers should have to acquire a license in physical training before even being able to step into a ring to teach an amateur boxer. Also, amateur boxers should have valid proof in how many matches they have had in order to turn professional. These amateur fighters should have to have at least 3 amateur fights before they can become pros so that they can develop the skills needed for success.
In order to keep boxing a true prize-fighting game there needs to be a solution to the under skilled trainers who keep producing poorly trained boxers. Great boxers have been produced in the past because of certain standards that were followed. These great boxers can in turn become trainers and help other amateurs gain momentum and success. Lastly, the Boxing Commission can do better at regulating trainers and their licensing.
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