10 Unwritten Sparring Rules EVERY Boxer Must Know
Every boxer must know these 10 rules before agreeing to get in the ring. After all, sparring is an essential part of a boxer's training routine.
It lets them have a fair fight with another man, something every man should try at least once in their life. However, there are risks like losing the respect of the fighters or ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life while not being able to control your own hands.
This is why every boxer MUST know the ten written rules before agreeing to spar:
1. Dont Always Apologise
There are certain scenarios when apologies are needed.
For example, if you accidentally hit them below the belt or in the back of the head. Then you should stop, apologize and make sure that no damage has been done.
However, landing a hard shot is NOT a reason to pause the timer. After all, boxing is a combat sport, and hard shots are a part of the game.
So when you do land a hard shot, what you can do is ease off for a bit and let them recover. But DO NOT stop and more importantly DO NOT apologize.
2. Show respect before and after EVERY round
Many people consider boxing to be barbaric and to some degree it is. The idea of 2 men getting into a closed space and trying to kill each other is quite a barbaric concept.
However, there is 1 thing that separates boxing from all other barbaric concepts…
It is ok to try and KILL each other during the rounds,
However, before and after every round, you must understand that…
The person on the other side of that ring has also gone through all the struggle and hardship in order to stand across from you and fight. The easiest way you can acknowledge that fact is by simply touching gloves.
Before every round, you should touch your gloves with your partner to show that you are ready to spar. And after the round is over, you should touch the gloves again to acknowledge their efforts and show your appreciation.
There are many other ways you can show respect however this is the number 1 way that is used by every respectful boxer from amateurs all the way up to the world champions.
3. Gain the beginner's trust and the expert's respect
Most of the people you spar with are either better than you or worse than you.
So to generalize you normally have the beginner and the expert.
As the expert, it is your job to work with the beginner, give them pointers on their technique and gain their trust.
It is not your job to come out swinging and unleash a storm of punches that leave the beginner feeling like they are worthless and can never become a great fighter
On the other end, as a beginner, it is your job to unleash the storm. You want to come out swinging.
Still think about technique,
However, you need to show the experts that you have heart and want to reach their level as soon as possible.
WARNING, this will lead to you getting punched in the face a lot but if you want the respect of a boxer,
You need to be able to take a blow right on the jaw
4. If your partner wants to use power, Show him the power
There is a big misconception about the intensity of sparring.
Usually, it is the beginner or the coach setting the pace of the rounds and this part is fine
However, what I usually see happen is...
The expert starts off slow and allows the beginner to set the pace,
Then the beginner comes out swinging and throws some power shots,
Naturally, the experts respond by landing power shots on the beginner
And now the beginner wants to complain and act like it was unfair because the expert is more experienced.
I know in the previous rule, I said that the expert needs to work with the beginner
But that doesn't mean he has to stand there and let the new guy whale on him.
So whether you’re the beginner, expert, or whatever is in between
If your partner wants to use power, Show him the power
5. Show respect inside and outside of the ring
As stated earlier boxing requires humility and respect.
But this doesn't just apply to inside the ring
You must remain humble outside of the ring as well
Now it’s okay to brag about certain things you have done in sparring and it is important to talk about ways you noticed your partner can improve
But outside of the gym don’t talk bad about your sparring partner and definitely don’t talk about how you can “beat his a$$”
Especially when your sparring partner isn't around or when certain people (girls) are around.
You should have tremendous respect for anyone who is willing to face you in fair combat and so the last thing you would want to do is put them down or make them look bad in front of others.
6. This isn't a game, use the right protection
Show love by wearing gloves.
This is a common expression for safe sex but it can also be used in boxing.
At the end of the day, boxing is a serious sport that can lead to serious injuries.
In order to prevent these serious injuries for you and your partner make sure you always use
Now for most gyms, only gloves and mouthguards are a necessity for sparring
However, for the sake of protecting both your heads, we strongly recommend you wear a head guard and a groin guard
7. Respect Your Partners Time
Sparring rounds usually last around 2-3 minutes with 30-60 second breaks.
If this doesn't seem like a lot then just wait till you get in there
Especially when you're a beginner, it can feel like an eternity
And so you may feel like quitting after the first or second round
But you need to consider the fact that people won't want to spar you if you’re only going to deliver 1-2 rounds
So it is always in your best interest to spar the agreed number of rounds (usually 3) and if things aren't going the way you expected
Then just hold on for that extra round or two and do better next time
Because the worst person in the boxing gym
Is the coward that no one respects.
8. Never Say No
Once you actually start sparring you're going to get asked questions like
“Do you want to spar this guy” after doing 3 rounds they might ask
“You got one more in you”
It is crucial that your answer is always “yes”
Even if 1 more turns into 3 more, saying “no” is the weakest thing you can do in a fight gym and is guaranteed to lose you some respect.
Now obviously if you genuinely can't because of injuries or time constraints then there is nothing you can do
But if you can spar them, then you have to say “yes”.
Sparring is a crucial part of training and you’re willingness to spar can affect how seriously the coach will take you
What the coaches are looking for in their fighters isn't a natural ability to fight.
They want a drive and an ambition to constantly improve and compete with everyone
And if you show them that in a respectful way then you are guaranteed to be taken seriously in a boxing gym.
9. The biggest lie in boxing is “light sparring”
Anyone who has been boxing long enough will laugh at the idea of light sparring.
Because the idea of punching softly goes out the window the moment someone accidentally throws a solid right hand
Let me explain
Sparring requires a lot of focus
And if you’re only focusing on your defenses for example
Then you aren't focusing on your counters
And when the opportunity does arrive to throw that sweet right hand
Your mind goes on autopilot and launches that right hand without a second thought
Of course, it lands with more force than any other punch thrown so far, and soon as your partner feels the punch
The 4th sparring rule kicks it and it is game on.
You might be thinking “okay but what if we just dont throw power punches and both go light the whole time”
Honestly, I dont know, from all my years of sparring
I have NEVER once seen it happen,
The lesson is that when the coach says “light sparring”, you need to start off light but expect it to get heavy.
10. Some are gifted and others are liars
This lesson is more for the experts
The second biggest lie in boxing is “I've only sparred a few times”
“Few” is such a subjective word
And if you hear someone say this then they have had anywhere between 3-300 sparring sessions
Maybe not 300 but definitely more than 3
Now some people are just born naturals and are generally good at sparring with little experience but most are liars who want a way out.
Basically, some people just say this as a fail-safe in case they get their head punched in and dont want to deal with the embarrassment.
Similar to how Jon Jones did cocaine every weekend before a fight so he had an excuse for if he lost
So if you ask someone how many times they have sparred and they respond with “only a few”
Then expect the unexpected.
In conclusion, sparring is a crucial aspect of a boxer's training, but safety must always come first.
Every boxer must follow the 10 unwritten rules of sparring to ensure their safety and make the most of their training sessions.
By doing so, they can become better fighters and achieve their goals in the sport of boxing.
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