boxing coach

Boxers Box, Teachers Teach.

A while back, I spoke to an old friend who has trained many amateur fighters during his career. I wanted his sage advice on how to choose a good boxing coach if your goal is to step into the ring and fight. This is what he told me in a nutshell, and for what it’s worth, I think he’s right – “boxers box, teachers teach.” Or you could say, “fighters fight, trainers train.”

If you’re a beginner or you’re relatively new to boxing but are considering competing, or maybe you know you want to compete, you need to find the right trainer. Not the most famous trainer – the right trainer. Now, if you live in a place like Los Angeles or NYC where you have access to pro fighters/trainers and the best the boxing world has to offer, that’s great. Take advantage of it! And if you can afford it, go with the guy who trained the pros or is a pro fighter himself – maybe. But maybe not. Consider my friend’s words first, and think it over. Here’s why.

The best trainer is the trainer who is right for you.

Professional fighters and professional trainers usually don’t come in one package. Most are going to be great at one or the other – boxing, or teaching boxing. Occasionally some can be great at both, but it’s rare. The great fighters don’t have a lot of time to teach, and sometimes they may not be able to prioritize clients or amateur hopefuls. The best trainers, most of the time, are in the sport to do just that – train fighters. Teaching something to someone is a skill, and while you may have the good fortune to be trained by the best fighter in the world, he may not always be great at teaching. Personally, I’d rather have a trainer who is really great at teaching technique to me than have a trainer who is the best fighter out there.

Pick someone who puts your training first.

In the same vein, I’d also recommend going with a trainer who has the time, patience, and the heart to truly focus on me and my progress. Focus is the key word. It’s going to be better for you as an aspiring fighter to have the attention than to have some world-class trainer who has limited bandwidth for you because his point of focus is the next fight he’s jetting off to. Pick someone who cares about your training and has the time for you. It will be worth it in the long run over the famous, highly sought-after, but otherwise preoccupied fighting coach. Remember that boxing is not something you “play” and you can’t compromise on learning proper form and having a trainer who will look after your health and safety.

Of course, you will also need to find someone who is willing to train at the amateur level, and knows the amateur boxing circuit and can prepare you.

Finally, If none of this really applies to you because you’re in a small town, only have access to one of those fitness gyms that also teach boxing classes, or just don’t have the budget for private lessons – don’t fret. This means you need to be resourceful, work with what you’ve got, and seek out knowledge in any way you can. If you are looking for a gym, ask if they have actual fighters there so you don’t get involved in “cardio boxing,” and always let coaches know you want to learn technique for competition. Keep making progress in any way you can. Ultimately, where there is a will, there’s a way.

Here is a handy link to USA Boxing’s list of certified clubs around the country. Any of these can match you up with a good coach. And if your first try isn’t the right fit, it’s ok to switch trainers until you know it’s a match made in boxing heaven.