How Do Boxers Mentally Prepare For a Fight (Learning From Mike Tyson)

Boxing has always been considered a sport where mental strength plays a major role. The boxer who wins fights mentally is usually the winner. How do boxers mentally for a fight and what kind of training methods do they follow?

Under the guidance of his coach, Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson dedicated a morning routine and utilized hypnosis, self-affirmations, intense visualizations, and aggressive self-talk to hone his mind which in turn, honed his abilities. Mike Tyson was able to mold himself into becoming ‘Iron Mike Tyson, whom he saw as an undefeatable and fierce fighter that everyone was terrified of.

Mental preparation is essential for winning a boxing match. There are several ways to train mentally for a fight. Some boxers go through rigorous training sessions before every bout. They practice punching bags, shadowboxing, sparring partners, and even take part in mock fights.

Tim Grover, a legendary coach who had worked with the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, wrote an entire book called ‘Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable. It delves into the inner workings of the mind that helped countless athletes achieve success.

Similarly, the tools Mike Tyson employed are now extremely popular with self-development coaches like Tony Robbins and clinical psychologists.

 “Every battle is won before it is fought.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Fighting in general is a battle in and of itself. The arena or ring becomes a battlefield for the entirety of the fight and besides equipment, training, and support, what is the most precious asset a fighter possesses?

It is the grey matter situated between the ears, on his shoulder. Yes, the tangible brain is a seat for that asset which is one’s mindset and psychological resilience. The power and importance of having the right mindset is well known and talked about by virtually every elite performer from all walks of life, be they a fighter, CEO, or soldier.

Now coming to Boxing specifically, it is common knowledge that it is a difficult sport all around and to be a successful boxer requires a certain temperament, mental resilience, and aggressive edge. Yet the majority of boxers when asked about what keeps them winning, besides the training and coaching, they never fail to mention their mind.

What is it exactly they do to train the mind which is an intangible part of ourselves?

Different fighters have different methods of training their mind as they do their body. However, let us look at how one of the most iconic boxers developed his mind and became a feared opponent.

Iron Mike Tyson. He is famous and well-loved for his aggressive style of fighting, quick maneuvers, fast footwork, and incredible musculature, and was the world’s youngest heavyweight champion at one point in time. Yet many are not aware that beneath that intimidating and gruff exterior is a man that employed multiple tools to constantly sharpen his mind, and his self-image, boost his abilities and conquer self-doubt.

One needs to understand that the conscious mind, the part that we are aware of in our mind, is merely a small portion. It has been proven in psychology that the subconscious mind takes up a large percentage of our entire mind and that it directs our life more than we are aware of.

Shadowboxing is also a great way for beginners to develop their punching skills. You can find out the importance of shadowboxing.

The subconscious mind does not respond to logic and facts, rather it responds well to images, feelings, and suggestions and if the subconscious mind contains self-limiting beliefs that are geared towards self-sabotage and failure, it ends up becoming a reality. Regardless of how physically endowed and talented a boxer is.

Cus D’Amato understood the hacks of the mind and knew the power of the subconscious.

Through hypnosis, self-affirmations, and visualizations, Mike Tyson was able to mold himself into becoming ‘Iron Mike Tyson, whom he saw as an undefeatable and fierce fighter that everyone was terrified of. 

This brings me to the next point of winning the battle in the opponent’s head before the actual fight had even begun. Psychological intimidation is a method used by a good number of boxers, from way back in time to the present day. Mike Tyson was adept at this and he understood the power of fear and harnessed it to his own advantage.

Many an opponent that were excellent boxers in their own right, lost to Mike Tyson within a single round. This was not because they were poor fighters, rather they were consumed by fear and believed they had no chance of ever winning.

Boxing evolved from its origins into a full-fledged sport during the 19th century. You can find out more about the history of boxing.

Martial arts enthusiast & loves exploring all of life before it all ends!
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