Friday 20 July 2018

From Prince Harry to Cara Delevingne, here's why everyone is taking up boxing

Paddy Carmody at Underdog Boxing gym believes boxing is a workout for the whole body.
Photo: Mark Condren
Paddy Carmody at Underdog Boxing gym believes boxing is a workout for the whole body. Photo: Mark Condren

Denise Smith

Watching Gigi Hadid or Cara Delevingne take to the catwalk you might be surprised that the secret to their toned silhouettes lies with a mean uppercut.

But you shouldn’t blink twice at the thought of the A-listers pummelling a boxing bag — everyone from Prince Harry to Roz Purcell are breaking a sweat in the ring.

As the royal will attest, there’s no better stress reliever than time spent with a heavy punching bag. Boxing is on the up, with more and more people slipping on gloves to vent their frustrations.

Katie Taylor has no doubt helped the movement, inspiring women to take up the sport with a new fervour, while Conor McGregor’s recent spat with Floyd Mayweather will undoubtedly convert the uninitiated.

A full body and mind workout, former footballer Rio Ferdinand now plans to go pro, taking to the ring at the age of 38.

The sport has been a salvation after the loss of his wife Rebecca, who tragically passed away in 2015 after a short battle with breast cancer.

Young and old, male and female, devotees are taking up the sport not only for fitness, but mental well-being too. Earlier this year, Prince Harry explained how boxing had helped him deal with his frustration and anger following the death of his mother.

“It’s a really good way of letting out aggression. And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone; so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier.”

If you don’t believe the hype, active-wear site, reported sales of boxing gloves shooting up a knock-out 130pc compared to last year.  

There’s a reason why it’s the new celebrity workout of choice. You can burn up to 800 calories an hour. Fitness benefits aside, there is a lot to be said for the control, concentration and coordination that not only improves mental agility, but also acts as a sweat-induced therapy session.

Paddy Carmody

For high-flying executive Paddy Carmody, who is the marketing manager of Beiserdof Ireland, a global skin care company that is home to Nivea, boxing is now a part of his every day routine.

“I think when I say boxing some people might think old school Rocky movies, dirty gyms and that everyone is going to be thrown in the ring and it’s just not like that at all.” 

A member of Underdog Boxing based on Cuffe Street, Dublin, the 38-year-old explains: “Balance and hand-to-eye co-ordination, everything is honed here. It really is a 360 workout for the body, legs, arms, core, shoulders and back. 

“The idea with boxing is that you get a great workout within a very short space of time. Doing a 45-minute class in the morning would be the equivalent of doing an hour and a half in another gym. Which is perfect for me because as a dad, I am restricted on time. 

“You have someone shouting instructions at you and motivating you and I find it is a great all over body workout.

“Classes have a lot of women in them too which is great for self-defence purposes.”    

As far as stress relief goes, the Kerry man who now lives in Finglas with his family reveals: “You hear a lot of guys  coming in from KPMG and accounting firms who have high powered jobs and they love it for stress relief — coming in and hitting the bag feels great.  

“I started boxing in Dublin two years ago. I was living over in the UK for ten years and I was doing lots of mixed martial arts, I was always active but nothing compares to boxing.”

David McHugh

For David McHugh, owner and Director of Line Up Sports Media Entertainment, a consultancy business specialising in the sports, entertainment and media sectors, boxing is a stimulant for the body and mind.

The 43-year-old, who lives in Ranelagh with his wife and two young children, regularly hits the ropes at Beau Jacks Boxing club on Grantham Place, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin.

“I was working with World Champion Bernard Dunne, and I got into boxing by being around his performance environment. I just thought, you know what, there is more to this than just hitting.

“I have been with Beau Jacks for six years now. I met my wife there four years ago and now we have two children.

“I think people don’t give boxing enough credit for what it is as a sport. For me, exercise has to involve the physical and mental.

“I have been fortunate for a number of years to work in high performance boxing. I have been around it at Olympian and World Championship level. What I like about it is that anyone can walk in from the street and try it without needing to get hurt and hit.

“I think it’s one of those things you can do at any level I was in Gleeson’s gym when I was over in New York with Andy Lee and there were people there in their 80s training, hitting a bag and skipping.

“I could box up to five times a week, a mixture of conditioning and bag work and a little bit of sparring."

“I try to get in at least twice minimum. It’s a great way to exercise that involves huge physical input but also you really have to think about what you are doing because you have to coordinate hands and feet.”

Speaking of the huge surge in popularity surrounding the sport, the top agent says: “Any sport that is successful will gain people’s interest in both watching and participating. The success of Irish boxing at Olympic and World Championship level, male and female, has really opened people’s eyes to the fact that it really isn’t just about hitting.

“From a female perspective Katie of course has a lot to do with this. Sport is my life. I’ve been training and competing all my life and it’s probably the hardest and most rewarding sport I’ve taken part in.

“The value it instils in people, the discipline and the comradery is unparalleled.

“I also like the solitude of going in and working the bag by myself. I think there are very few physical and mental challenges that you can undertake and get so much of a return.

“In Beau Jacks it is classless, ageless and gender balanced, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s more than just training.”

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