Diary of a White Collar Boxer - Week 5
Martin Theobald

Week 5

It's getting nearer. Less creeping up, more train hurtling along with wreck less abandon while the Fat Controller mutters something about faulty buffers. Fight night is just over three weeks away and the focus of those left is understandably turned now to April 10th and stepping between the ropes in front of 1,500 (probably) boozed up audience members. Tickets sales are complete, so now in scenes similar to Wolf of Wall Street the Facebook group is awash with buyers and regrettably few sellers. The place will be packed come the night and hopefully each and every person can savour the atmosphere and experience, whether first in the ring and then watching your training partners scrap it out or if you're the main event sitting patiently while the rest of the night unfolds.

Training wise, the lessons are now consisting more of putting into practice the skills picked up over the last 35 days. Technical sparring sessions are interspersed with isolated drills. My personal hatred is for the drills kneeling down and practicing staying 'in the pocket'. Not necessarily because I'm adverse to that style (albeit I'm proud enough to admit it's a weakness) but because 25+ years of sporting activity have left my ankles shot to shit and cause agonising pain trying to stay in position I haven't held since school assembly.

When we get the good grace to retake our feet the emphasis this week has again been on the short game, staying in tight and working uppercuts, hooks and anything else you can throw while on the inside. We get a history lesson thrown in for free. Who knew that 'toe the line' came from boxing and the old practice of two men fighting with their toe along the same line so as not to move . Turns out coach Tony knew it.

The explicit cardio sessions are over now. No more hour long stints of testing your CV and stamina. That said though I think I sweat and leave more tired from an hour of sparring than I ever did from the hard burpees and squat thrust sessions. All of that said, the coaches are still kind enough to put us through the mill one last time with a five minute lung buster of an exercise, by no illusions are they letting us off, and each person who attends should be thankful for that.

Sparring is a curious business. Nobody is going in 100% and there is a respect towards everyone who is in this for the same cancer fighting cause. Sure, a few noses have been bloodied and jaws left aching but consider it part of the journey. Fuck it, if one shot in sparring encourages me to keep my hand up on the night then I'll consider it a punch worth taking. You help each other out, identify weaknesses in the opponents defence and advise them how to rectify it. Seems a bit mental really, that same person could be using the advice to block your same punches come fight night. But there's a camaraderie that exists in the group, happy to offer an insight wherever possible. Only this week a lad in my likely weight category got me to tighten my overhand right. Not for his benefit, but for mine. Top man. Each short sharp burst of a round ends with a tap of the gloves or a well done, manly, embrace. It's all good natured as skills are fine tuned.

The weigh in date is released. I'm sure we can expect the customary lad with six pack happy to get down to his pants for a photo opportunity. Don't think it will be me. A stone has been dropped since starting training and I have set weight goals to reach each weekend. Nothing too drastic but enough that I will feel comfortable fighting at. Dietary requirements have changed and the freezer has been seeing it's fair share of chicken pass through it. I'm typically one to indulge in sweet treats but have been disciplined enough to avoid them, albeit tonight I cracked and had a Pop Tart and three Jaffa Cakes. First time I've indulged in a good couple of weeks, I'm not a fucking Spartan.

There's lots of chat in the group about ring entrance name and music. My name has been raffled off to those who have donated to my Just Giving page (www.justgiving.com/Martin-Theobald2)) and the winner was picked last weekend. He has yet to show his hand but it's safe to say I'm expecting the worst. As for music, I'm picking my own. I like to visualise things; listening to the song in advance when walking helps me envisage what it will be on fight night. Which beat of the song I will start my walk to, what pace I want to go at. All silly things really, but things I can control in advance and contextualise to make the night slightly less nerve wracking than what it will inevitably be.

My thanks as always goes to the coaches who have been an outstanding support to everybody taking part. There's no clock watching, no kicking you out the door the moment your hour lesson is up. They all have homes to go to and families to see but are happy to add on whatever time is required to finish the work they want to see done or answer questions from people once the lesson has ended. A nicer or more helpful group you could not wish for. Apart from when sparring, then they're a fucking nightmare and give you a damn good lesson.

Three weeks left of this. Will I miss it? Undoubtedly. It's addictive, you have a goal and can see tangible benefits to yourself (discipline, health, fitness) as well as for the money making good cause. That said, the moment I exit the ring I will take my first drink in the best part of six weeks and no doubt eat the greasiest burger going. But at least I will have earned it as will everyone taking part.

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