Skip to main content

A Master Trainer on Training for Toughness by Mark Hatmaker

You’ll have to tolerate a paragraph or two from me before we get to the meat of today’s lesson, some wise words from a Master Trainer on training for robustness.

Who is the Master Trainer I speak of?

Jimmy DeForest.

For those not in the know, Jimmy DeForest was the boxing trainer and conditioning coach for…well, have look at a few of the luminaries he prepared for battle:

·        Jack Dempsey

·        Stanley Ketchel

·        James J. Jeffries

·        Joe Gans

·        George Dixon

·        Joe Walcott

·        Kid McCoy

·        Tommy Ryan

·        Philadelphia Pal Moore

·        Jack Sharkey

·        Luis Angel Firpo

That is quite a stable of leather-tough, nail-spittin’, hard-hittin’ hombres if there ever was one.

These men all share in common heavy hands, no quit in the tank, and to-the-marrow toughness.

So, what was it that DeForest thought was so important?

Toughness. Robustness.

What is robustness?

It is not merely the conditioning one does [which is all fire important] it is also the circumstances, the environment, the overall “feel” or vibe that training is conducted in.

It is un-smoothing the gym, it is un-boxing the athlete, it is getting rid of any and all comfort while the
uncomfortable work is being done.

Let’s turn the floor over to Mr. DeForest.

“[In the early days] the fighters came to the ring properly conditioned to do their best for the particular distance they were required to go—six, eight, ten, or fifteen rounds. For the most part they were fighters toughened by far more rigorous training methods than are employed today, and able to battle hard for fifteen rounds and be fresh at the finish.

“There were no ‘hot-house’ fighters a generation ago. The men didn’t have the money for expensive camps and imported chefs. They trained in cold barns, and when they wanted a shower, they stood under a big can in which holes had been punched while someone poured in a bucket of cold water from above. Rigorous treatment, but it made tough bodies. Men would go fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five rounds and show scarcely a mark afterwards. Nowadays blood flows freely in almost every six round go.”

Mr. DeForest penned those words in 1930. This before the age of air-conditioning [or air-cooling as it was termed then], efficient heating, or anything that we encounter in even the least well-equipped commercial gym of today.

Imagine how much more shade he would throw at today’s training environments.

Imagine the look in the eyes from that stable of fighters as they view our comfy “Boxes” from the vantage point of their bare-bones proving grounds.

Probably the same look a hungry coyote has when it sees the pampered pet let out into the manicured lawn to relieve itself and get back inside where it’s all nice and cozy.

To capture a bit of the old school toughness and fearsome fighting ability, perhaps it’s more than merely duplicating tactics, and going through the motions of similar conditioning.

Perhaps there is as much to be said for duplicating the environment as well.

A man as knowledgeable as Mr. DeForest thought so, who are we to say he’s wrong?
[Excerpted from our upcoming book Boxing Like the Champs: Round Two.]


Popular posts from this blog

Warrior Awareness Drills by Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific…

Apache Running by Mark Hatmaker

Of the many Native American tribes of the southwest United States and Mexico the various bands of Apache carry a reputation for fierceness, resourcefulness, and an almost superhuman stamina. The name “Apache” is perhaps a misnomer as it refers to several different tribes that are loosely and collectively referred to as Apache, which is actually a variant of a Zuni word Apachu that this pueblo tribe applied to the collective bands. Apachu in Zuni translates roughly to “enemy” which is a telling detail that shines a light on the warrior nature of these collective tribes.
Among the various Apache tribes you will find the Kiowa, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Chiricahua (or “Cherry-Cows” as early Texas settlers called them), and the Lipan. These bands sustained themselves by conducting raids on the various settled pueblo tribes, Mexican villages, and the encroaching American settlers. These American settlers were often immigrants of all nationalities with a strong contingent of German, Polish, and …

Awareness Drill: The Top-Down Scan by Mark Hatmaker

American Indians, scouts, and indigenous trackers the world over have been observed to survey terrain/territory in the following manner.
A scan of the sky overhead, then towards the horizon, and then finally moving slowly towards the ground.
The reason being that outdoors, what is overhead-the clouds, flying birds, monkeys in trees, the perched jaguar—these overhead conditions change more rapidly than what is at ground level.
It has been observed by sociologists that Western man whether on a hike outdoors or in an urban environment seldom looks up from the ground or above eye-level. [I would wager that today, he seldom looks up from his phone.]
For the next week I suggest, whether indoors or out, we adopt this native tracker habit. As you step into each new environment [or familiar ones for that matter] scan from the top down.
I find that this grounds me in the awareness mindset. For example, I step into my local Wal-Mart [or an unfamiliar box store while travelling] starting at the top, t…