Christian Schembri's training camp diary
Malta's favourite boxer, Christian 'Coqqus' Schembri (23-9-1, 8KO), is preparing for his 34th professional bout on September 30.
British fight fans will already be familiar with 31-year-old Schembri after he took Stoke's Nathan Heaney the distance over 10 rounds for the IBO Continental super-middleweight title in 2020.
Ahead of his showdown with Czech Republic's Milan Dvorak, Christian has agreed to share a unique insight into his training camp with a weekly diary exclusive to BBN.
I started the week refreshed. I was quite sore on Saturday morning, so I went to a spa, took a nice ice bath and it helped me recover faster, so on Monday I was pumped and ready for training.
I jumped into Monday with an early morning 10km run, done at 6am. It had been a while since I ran that long, as I change my training often, but it was good to see that I could still manage it at a decent pace. After that was my morning lessons, as I supplement my boxing career with personal boxing training, in order to have enough income for me and my family.
In the afternoon I was still feeling quite good and I planned to do a moderate boxing session. Then, as what happens usually when I train by myself and not with my coach, I pushed harder, and ended up doing 6 rounds shadow boxing, three of them with 1kg dumbells, 10 on the heavy bag, then abs, push ups and pull ups!
Safe to say I was still sore from the day before and I woke up with annoying news. It was planned to be a sparring day but my mate was down with fever so he had to give it a miss. So I slept in an extra hour and trained with one of my clients, as some of them are quite decent, fit and keen on mixing it up. We did continuous drills for 8 rounds working on slipping, rolling and countering, then finished off with a couple of light sparring rounds and a finisher circuit consisting of squats, push ups and sit ups.
In the afternoon I was again training by myself, since the sparring was canceled and I had booked different days with my coach. I went early to install a new double end bag so that I could use it in the session, planning to do 5 rounds of shadow boxing, 5 rounds of double end bag, 5 rounds of skipping, plus push ups, pull ups and abs. However, I didn't tie the elastic for the double end bag tight enough, and it flew away twice, so I just did 10 rounds of shadow boxing and the other stuff, instead. Then I fixed it properly after I had a good stretch after training, so that I could use it whenever I needed it next.
Pads Day! Malta being a small island without a long boxing lineage, there aren't a multitude of boxing coaches you can choose from that can help you in a good way on a daily basis.
Right now I'm being trained by Scott Dixon, funnily enough, who I fought professionally three times. He's a former Commonwealth champion with a wealth of knowledge. He knows me inside out, so we clicked immediately when he held pads for me the first time, and now it's been three months trying to hold twice a week sessions.
Weight is looking good as well, I went down a few kilograms. I was worrying because I was dieting strictly and had cut out almost all nibbling, sipping on diet cokes and sticking to everything to the letter, but the scale wasn't budging. Turns out taking creatine on a daily basis is not the best idea for shifting weight, because as soon as I stopped it, I leaned out in a couple of days.
The food gets repetitive, and I stopped my weekly cheat day as well in the last 5 weeks, which is soul sucking because it would usually be a nice burger or a pizza, but the problem is I don't know when to stop, and I continue eating ice cream or donuts or cakes after, so I stop everything just for good measure.
The diet starts with oatmeal and boiled eggs after my morning run or conditioning session. Then I have two lunchboxes with spinach, rice, half an avocado and chicken or fish all before my boxing session, followed by a protein bar or a can of tuna in brine and another apple after the session. Dinner is usually a pile of green vegetables accompanying chicken breast or beef or fish. I try to vary the protein as much as I can, so it doesn't get too boring.
Training was good on this day, I ran 6km in the morning and then the boxing in the afternoon was shadow boxing, pad work and skipping, following a nice dip in the sea afterwards. We do the padwork in St. Julian's, next to the sea, and most of the time I jump in after I finish training. It's great for muscle recovery and to relax the mind.
Finally, sparring day. On this day, I'm sparring Niclas Elfstedt, a Swedish super middleweight champion. We've shared over a thousand rounds over the years, as we've been sparring each other since 2017, when he moved to Malta. We're very good friends as well, he was the best man at my wedding. Funny story, we were sparring the day before the wedding, undercover from the missus, obviously!
Leading up to a fight, I try to spar two times a week for 6 weeks, then I take a break for a month after the fight to let the body and head recover. Then I start again with once a week sparring to stay sharp, until I have another fight lined up. This week is disappointing since I had only one spar, but shit happens and you work around it.
In the morning had my 6am run, short one today, 4km, to save my legs for sparring, followed by 3 rounds of shadow boxing. Rounds are always 3 minutes with 30 second rest in between.
The sparring is always really competitive. He is quite taller than me so he tries to keep me at a distance and I have to work my weigh in, until he starts brawling after a couple of rounds. He's a Viking at heart, no denying that! Today we went 6 rounds, then we finished off with 4 rounds on the heavy bag and 2 championship rounds, which are 3 minutes of AMRAP 10 burpees, 10 push ups, 20 mountain climbers and 20 crunches.
That was a tough one. A good stretch is always needed after and an ice cold shower. Well, as cold as the water can get in 30 degrees humid Maltese summer.
Another early start. I always try to get my first session before my morning shift at the gym to have more time during the day, then another one early afternoon before my afternoon lessons. That way I get to spend time with my wife and kid in the evening, which is something I really value in my life.
The morning session was hill sprints. Usually I warm up my running with 1.5km, then do 10 flat out 100m hill sprints, and 1.5km jog back to the gym, followed by bodyweight exercises. You might notice that I don't mention weight training. I've done it at times in preparation for different fights, and for last fight, I even did a personalised program with Boxing Science, who are based in Sheffield. And while I felt good, I still feel better in the ring when 1 1 m doing mostly running, body weight exercises and explosive movements with lighter weights like medicine balls and kettlebells, so I tend to stick to that, mostly.
In the afternoon it was pads again with Mr. Dixon. Today we worked on the jab mostly and keeping a tight guard. I love the way he puts it, he wants a greasy fast jab, stealing it from your opponent, and a water tight defense, staying in your shell from bell to bell. I love training with him, he's a character and is a very good communicator, great things to go with his boxing knowledge.
It's been a good, hard week of training. 1 1 m looking forward to the weekend now, a good ice bath to recover and maybe a nice day at the beach to recharge for next weeks grind!
Article sponsored by HÖRFA