As Anthony Joshua gets set to fight Andy Ruiz Jr – 5 things to know before taking your first boxing class

If you’re a fan of boxing, you’ll probably already know that champion boxer Anthony Joshua is getting ready to put his world heavyweight titles on the line as he prepares to face Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Gardens, New York, on Saturday.

All eyes are on the champ – undefeated in 22 contests – who hasn’t fought since his win over Russia’s Alexander Povetkin last September.

Ready to fight: Anthony Joshua (Dave Thompson/PA)
Ready to fight: Anthony Joshua (Dave Thompson/PA)

Thanks to superstars like Joshua, boxing classes are blowing up across the UK and more of us are giving the sport a go than ever before. If you’re thinking of strapping on some gloves and letting off some steam on the bags, here are some things to know ahead of your first class…

1. Wear form-fitting clothing and triple-knot your laces

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in a boxing class is wearing the wrong clothing. Baggy sweats and hoodies can obstruct your vision and get in the way of you throwing clean combinations.

Instead, make sure to wear form-fitting clothing that allows you to keep up with the pace of the class. It’s also a good idea to wear a pair of trainers that allow you to be light on your feet.

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Box fit classes can often involve conditioning drills such as push-ups, sit-ups and periods of work on the skipping rope, which is notorious for making shoelaces unravel. Our pro tip: make sure you triple-knot them before you head into the gym.

2. Don’t expect to be brilliant from the get-go

Boxing is a skill that takes time to hone. Learning the correct stance, the different punches and the footwork is no easy feat, and that’s all before you figure out how to put the moves into a combo, defend yourself and outsmart your opponent.

Even if you’re already super strong, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be great a great fighter in the ring. Becoming a good boxer involves patience, determination and, most importantly, regular practise.

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3. Check what gear you need

Many boutique studios and speciality gyms will provide you with gloves, but it’s worth checking ahead as some older spit and sawdust gyms may expect you to bring your own.

You’ll need to invest in some wraps to protect your wrists and knuckles, but these are fairly inexpensive (you can pick up a pair online for around £6) and they can be chucked in the washing machine after and reused again and again.

If you’re not sure how to wrap your hands correctly, make sure to get to the class early and ask the trainer to show you how. There are also lots of tutorials on YouTube that can show you the technique too.

4. Don’t fear getting hurt

Boxing classes are very different from the fights your see on TV. It isn’t a case of jumping in the ring and punching each other. A class will likely start with a round of shadowboxing – where you throw punches at the air rather than an opponent, to practice your form and footwork.

You might then move on to some mitt work, where your partner will hold pads and you’ll throw pre-determined punches at them. It looks painful but this doesn’t hurt – the pads are very thick and absorb the punches as you throw them.

Mitt work is as much of a mental game as a physical one, and your trainer will call out combos for you to execute. This segment is more about speed and technique rather than strength.

Bag rounds are the really fun part. This is where you go all-out on the punching bag, throwing fast and hard fists. The rounds are usually three-minutes long and might involve throwing a round of combinations or simply testing your endurance by jabbing continuously at the bag until time is called. This is the part that will leave your dripping with sweat and feeling like a fighter.

5. You’ll feel sore, but amazing, afterwards

Be ready for a total-body workout. Boxing is an extremely physical sport that involves top-to-toe strength, so it’s natural to feel a bit achey in the days after.

The good news is that you’ll feel mentally amazing, as boxing increases the production of endorphins in the brain – the neurotransmitters that put you on a ‘feel-good’ high and help to relieve stress.

Best of all, there’s something seriously empowering about your first boxing class – throwing those final punches while covered in sweat. Even if you’re not quite at Anthony Joshua’s level yet, you’ll still feel like a champion afterwards.

- Press Association

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