There’s a reason why fighters have trainers. I think for a while I thought that I could train myself just as good or better than someone else could train me. And that may be true to a certain extent, but there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure of—a fighter can never reach his full potential alone…that includes me.

My main reason for bringing that up is what I experienced this past Thursday at my second training session.

A Second Pair of Eyes

Well, in my case, I have a second and a third pair of eyes. I have myself, and my two coaches.

During sparring or a match or whatever I’m practicing there’s two ways to look at things: There’s what I think I’m doing and there’s what I’m actually doing.

What do I mean by that?

I’ll explain with an example from my second training session.

You know what I get tired of hearing? ”Keep your hands up. Keep your hands up. Keep your hands up.” Blah blah blah.

I’m like, “I am G-damnit!”

Except I’m not.

It’s funny how fighters perceive things one way and the whole world sees it differently. But I guess it’s the stubbornness that most fighters possess.

Anyways, I could of swore I was keeping my right hand up when I threw my jab to protect from the counter jab or counter hook that’s most likely to be returned.

But I wasn’t, and Krishna and Tony let me know about it. Since they both have a real strong boxing acumen I decided to take their word for it.

Funny thing happened…I don’t think I got hit again that night.

I guess my point is this: You always want someone else there, that second pair of eyes—who’s opinion you respect—guiding you through whatever it is that you’re training.

There’s no way that you as a fighter, or me as a fighter can see everything that we’re doing, and if we’re doing it correctly.

The Importance of Having Trainers You Respect

I mentioned previously in this series that no coach has ever developed me. And that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve never had a coach.

I think I’ve had three actually.

To be honest with you I don’t think I learned a damn thing from them.

Now that could be for one of two reasons:

1. They were shitty coaches
2. I didn’t listen

I think it was a combination of the two, and more so for the first reason, but I’d like to talk about the second reason and my Thursday night epiphany.

Now I know Krishna Wainright. I don’t mean that in the sense that we’re great friends or I know him on a deep personal level. I mean that I know his background. I know about his boxing credentials.

USA boxing team, World Championships Bronze medalist, former pro. I even watched his 6 round fight with David Tua on YouTube.

 

I’d probably listen to everything that dude said even if it sounded wrong, because I respect him.

To me, listening and respect go hand in hand. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

If Freddie Roach or Greg Jackson tells you to fight with your hands down because they think it’s a good idea you’d probably do it just because they said it—not because it sounds right.

If I tell you to fight with your hands up because it’s the proper way to defend yourself you’d probably tell me to go fuck myself. Not because it sounds wrong, but because I’m the one that said it.

See what I’m saying?

Back to Thursday night. I said I have two coaches. One’s Krishna, and the other’s Tony.

One I’d jump off a bridge for if he told me too, the other—ehhh, not so much.

Not because Tony doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but because I had no idea who he was.

Until Thurday.

Tony Douglas is about 5’6”, maybe a 140 lbs. A stark contrast from Krishna who’s probably 5’10” and 250 lbs.

Right off the bat Krishna commands respect because it’s human nature to respect the bigger man. Add to that his boxing pedigree and he leaves no doubt.

Compare that to Tony, and add in the fact that I know nothing about his background other than he’s trained boxers for 20 years. Obviously he’s doing something right, but you can maybe see how I didn’t respect him as much to start.

Appearances can be deceiving.

I realized that the moment I saw him working the heavybag.

Talk about smooth man. I know good boxing when I see it and his combinations were as technical as they were powerful. For a man in his late forties THAT was impressive—looked better than most pros.

So I casually asked him if he’d ever boxed before and he said, “Nah.” Jokingly of course. Then he told me he made it to the Olympic Trials in the 80’s losing on points to Michael Carbajal.

I don’t expect that to mean much to most people because it was a long time ago. But it’s a big deal to make it to that point with the pool of talent that there was in the 80’s and then losing only on points to the eventual Silver Medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games. Not only that, but Carbajal would go on to win 4 world titles as a pro.

After he said that I thought to myself, ”Holy shit, this guy’s no joke.”

I guess I didn’t really realize that I wasn’t as open to Tony’s instruction until that very moment. It was certainly a subconcious thing, but that’s what I meant when I said, ”you need a second pair of eyes—who’s opinion you respect—guiding you through whatever it is that you’re training.” Otherwise, you can’t absorb everything they have to offer.

Can you learn something from someone with no background whatsoever?

It’s a little more difficult because they have to earn your respect, but yes of course you can.

Enzo Calzaghe was a musician who taught himself how to coach his own son Joe after knowing nothing prior to that.

How’d they do?

Ummm…he retired undefeated, Super Middleweight Champion of the World for a decade—beating legends Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. in the process.

They did alright.

So would I have listened to Tony had he been nothing more than what I thought he was? Sure. But I guarantee it will be much easier now that he doesn’t have to earn it.

Are you going to respect every coach you have? No, but you can learn what you can until you find ones that you do.