Boxing is one of the most intense jobs you can do. When you’re not in the ring pushing your body to its limits, you’re training incredibly hard to be a success. It seems pretty important, perhaps more than in other professions, for boxers to do something to unwind their tension and relax them in their spare time after work or in the years after they retire from the game.
British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Tommy Langford found very early on in his professional career that rest was just as important as training. He was steadfastly focused in the gym and in the ring on fight nights, captaining his Hall Green professional gym, his amateur gym - Bideford ABC, and also the England team, due to the shining example he set as a fighter, but when outside of those walls he left it all in there and relaxed to allow his body to recover.
So what else can occupy boxer's time outside of the gym?
Devoting time to causes they believe in
This is a pretty big one with celebrities, and boxers are no different. There’s nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than dedicating your spare time to a movement that you believe in and seeing results. The results don’t need to be big either, often just seeing how much you help individuals can make you feel amazing.
Take a fighter like Duke McKenzie. When he unsuccessfully challenged Steve Robinson for the WBO title in 1994 his life spiralled out of control and fought sparingly. Since then, he has occupied his free time partly doing work for Mind, a mental health organisation, to tackle the lack of mental health awareness in sports.
Boxing is pretty behind on that front, in Duke’s own words: ‘I’m passionate about the importance of wellbeing and, as a boxer, I know that there currently isn’t enough support for mental health in boxing. It’s great to see that England Boxing has signed the Mental Health Charter, but more needs to be done to support boxing coaches.’
Undefeated WBC world lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney regularly volunteers at the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth in Las Vegas to serve food during lunch.
Even if boxers have some time off, like footballers they might want to immerse themselves in games about their sport like Round4Round boxing. There is some evidence that boxing games are a bit more of a busman’s holiday for boxers, and some have been known to play games like Fortnite. Fortnite’s influence has even made its way into the ring with boxers like Teofimo Lopez doing victory dances ripped straight from the game.
Even some online gambling and gaming companies have also been linked to boxers; IBF featherweight king Josh Warrington has spoken in the past about enjoying online casino gaming.
There's other gaming available as controversial figure Ohara Davies, who has just reached the Golden Contract super-lightweights final, loves to play on his PS4 and often invites his followers on Twitter to join in the games online with him.
Not all boxers are into casino games but still like the thrill of excitement that it can give them. However, rather than gambling on casino games, many boxers will look into what the current boxing betting and odds are on sites such as Unibet. A betting company like this will give £40 money back if a new customer’s boxing bet loses.
Floyd Mayweather has been known to bet big on sporting events. Brit Billy Joe Saunders has also publicly shared his success, like when he won six figures backing Tyson Fury to win against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
Boxers like David Allen, Paddy Barnes and Ted Cheeseman all publicly urge gamblers to gamble responsibly, so if you feel like gambling may become problematic there are resources that can help you.
Music and Arts
Getting involved with music and arts is highly relaxing as well as mind-expanding, and boxers are known to dabble in this world too. In fact, boxers like Irvin Pascal turned to art after retiring from their boxing careers. His work now fetches millions of Nigerian Naira and he’s worked up an appealing image as an artist.
That’s not all – Hannah Rankin is a female boxer that won her first title in November 2017 in just her fourth pro fight. She’s also a professional bassoonist in London Orchestras and goes by the name: ‘The Classical Warrior’. She aims to become a world champion while also championing music and thinks that her two passions work very well together. She doesn’t spar in the days before she’s playing a concert, however, as she thinks it’s unprofessional to turn up with a black eye.
WBA #1 heavyweight Joe Joyce, an Olympic silver medallist, has been known to dabble in the arts also. He loves nothing better than painting in his spare time to help relax inbetween fights and has even auctioned some of these paintings to raise money.
Boxers Love a Box Set
Carl Froch recommends to all fighters to start loving their box sets. While your friends are out at the cinema watching films or in the pub having a drink, boxers need to be at home sitting on the sofa watching box sets to relax and chill before an early night to ensure you rise and fit and refreshed for work the following morning.
Southern Area lightweight champion, Ben Day, was often seen at his local swimming pool doing lengths. There were two reasons for this, firstly because he found it relaxing and enjoyable, and secondly as a replacement to roadwork as the running involved in his training camp was having an adverse effect on his knees.
He's not the only one who likes to take a plunge, however. Long-reigning WBC world heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, who was famously dethroned by Tyson Fury this month, is a keen scuba diver!
Always one to find ways to push his training and his overall physical fitness level, Wilder has incorporated swimming and scuba diving into his conditioning program, stating, "For those that don't know, I'm a certified scuba diver. I enjoy it and I've been doing it for a few years now. It gives me relaxation and helps keep pressure off the muscles in my body. It helps my body tremendously. It's also strengthening my legs and expanding my lungs so that I have more stamina. Water is great for exercise and I love it."
'The Baddest Man on the Planet' Mike Tyson was the most vicious and feared figure in fighting, but when away from the punching and the cameras, he was a soft, nature-loving person. He was well known for raising racing pigeons, who he cared for deeply.
"It took my mind off the world I was linving in", Iron Mike said.
Boxing is a sport you have to give your entire life to, making unending sacrifices, such as your social life, holidays, time with friends and family, and the hardest part of all - your diet. It's a young person's sport, which requires more dedication than most, but it's pleasing to hear that there is a bit of a life outside of boxing, where these pressurised pugilists can relax between punches!