At 28-years-old, light-welterweight ace, Bradley Saunders has experienced over two decades in boxing already.
After being involved in close to 200 amateur fights and winning over 90% of them, as well as collecting a dozen national titles, plus a plethora of bronze, silver and gold medals from World, European, and Commonwealth championships, the decorated pugilist shared some of his experience picked up along the way.
Currently 12 fights unbeaten as a pro and a former WBO Inter-Continental title-holder, Saunders discussed a few hidden downsides that all aspiring young boxers need to know about before setting out in their similar journey.
- Your hands will get wrecked
Sometimes you can go for up to three weeks in training without using your hands because they are so swollen and battered.
There’s no particular reason or worse activity for your hands, it could be pads, bags, sparring, it all just adds to the general wear and tear.
When I was an amateur, the bandages were too little and I think the first bit of damage I suffered was when I was a young teenager.
Since then, I’ve had two operations on each of my hands which have kept me out on the side-lines for a few months. I missed out on a Commonwealth title fight with my last injury earlier this year so you do suffer for it.
My advice is to wrap them up well and to look after your hands from a young age.
- You’re signing up to be full-time runner
I would absolutely hate to be a professional runner!
It’s not my favourite thing and I used to go running for five or six miles a day. We, as boxers, are more powerful athletes than long distance and it’s really not that good for a boxer to do that all the time.
Sprints and track work is better and it’s not boring like running is, it’s short and sharp and tends to be very competitive with your teammates. My teammates, Tom Stalker and Declan Geraghty are very good sprinters.
- Your social life is non-existent
As a boxer, it’s very good after fights but for the three months leading up to the fight, it’s non-existent!
You have to be very secluded and focused on your job at hand. Luckily, I don’t feel like I’m missing out because I’m looking forward to fighting so much.
I spend a lot of time with family which I would recommend to all. Just remember that boxing is a short lived sport so put your all into it now.
- You have to deal with haters every day
To be quite honest, I don’t take notice of these people any more.
Of course it gets to you and sometimes you lose sleep at night but you’ve got to get used to it and realise that their opinion means nothing, it’s yours and the coaches that matter the most.
My advice is to either brush it off or allow the critics to fuel your fire.
- You have to have a retirement plan in place
I believe I’m number one so I know that the prizes will come.
I’m investing in companies and thinking of my future all of the time. It’s a short experience as a professional boxer so you’ve got to look after your best interests and plan for the future.
I suggest that you always put money away anyway but when you get your fight purse, tuck some away for investments and think of yourself and family first.
- Self-promotion is a must
I interact with everybody on Twitter and Facebook. You’ve got to and if you do that then it goes a long way.
These days, it’s far easier for fans to interact with their heroes and celebrities and you should make the most of that tool and make the effort to speak to the fans that are helping to get you up in your career. They’ll remember you for it.
- You have to be willing to fight anyone
You need to have a bit of sense but you have to be willing to fight anyone.
Of course, this game is all about levels and you need to be clever not to jump up too early like others have in their career and set themselves back for it.
My words of advice are to always keep your weight down and it’s got to become your lifestyle and then you can fight anyone at any time. If you live the life then you should be good to go with anyone at any notice.
- You have to choose your friends wisely
You’ve got to choose your crowd wisely. I’m around very good people now, Daniel Kinahan my manager and Anthony Fitzgerald of MGM Gym and the likes of Ian Glass, Danny Vaughn, Derry Mathews who is over here full-time now. I’m training with Derry today actually. Then there’s Declan Geraghty, Thomas Stalker, Peter McDonagh, Jamie Conlan, and many more, it’s a very good atmosphere in the gym right now.
I’m over here because of the way of life, it’s nice to be here in the sunshine and go swimming in the pool with my little boy or down to the beach with the family.
I took myself away from my area to be here because of the distractions you get at home and you’ve got to make those sort of sacrifices in your career.
- If you don’t work, you don’t get paid
Fortunately, I’ve got some very good sponsors in ESRG Group, webuyanyhouse.com and CBL of Hartlepool. They look after me and make my life a lot of easier.
The sponsors that I’ve got have always been good to me and they’ve been there from the start, I couldn’t imagine what I would have done without them helping me.
I couldn’t tell you how to get sponsors, I know that it’s the hardest thing to get in this sport. All I can say is to just do your job in the ring and they will come.
- You are on a diet for your entire life
The hardest part is the diet and seeing everyone around you eating and drinking what they want is hard. Just watching your Mrs. drinking a glass of wine is difficult.
I’ve been on a diet since I was nine-years-old! I had beans on toast one Christmas dinner when I was 12 or 13-years-old because the schoolboys always started in January!
I have to apologise to my fiancé after the fight because I take it out on her for the last few weeks. There’s nothing worse than those last few weeks when the diet is really strict and you are so ready to go and do your thing.
It’s the hardest thing but focus on your fight and building the machine because what you eat is so much a part of it especially in this modern age. Suffer now and reap the benefits later. It’s not for long so just learn to cope with it and keep focused.
Like Ali famously said, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
So that’s my bit of advice to the younger generation of boxers so they know what they are letting themselves in for, I hope it helps!
I’ve got a date coming this week, likely to be September, so please look out for the announcement!
Bradley would like to thank his sponsors ESRG Group webuyanyhouse.com Muscle World HQ Cam-era The Sofa & Bed Store
and his team at the MGM Gym Marbella
, plus manager Daniel Kinahan
and PR Manager Tim Rickson
To follow Bradley Saunders on Twitter click here @bradsaunders86
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