I’m a great believer in self improvement, from getting in shape to believing in and achieving your dreams. We all have the ability to better ourselves, to push our limits and raise the bar, which is why I am a huge fan and supporter of Train Like A Pro, a local white collar boxing event that sees forty ordinary members of the public put through ten weeks of gruelling training in order to enter a boxing tournament to benefit local charities.
On Saturday 4th April 2015 the fourth Train Like A Pro event came to Stoke Mandeville in a fireball of passion, enthusiasm and support for the incredible people who made the decision to step into the ring. In front of friends, family, the local community and businesses alike, the contestants showcased the skills they had learnt after investing blood, sweat and tears with their trainers as four teams went head to head to be crowned the winner.
Each fighter is given full training in order to box, with health checks throughout, nutritional advice, medical attention and protective sparring equipment, turning strangers into friends and competitors into family. You see, it’s not all about taking home the trophy at the end of the event, because every step that led to this day is so incredibly priceless and well earned, as Train Like A Pro undoubtedly changes lives. From helping people to quit smoking, drinking, taking drugs, lose weight and feel good about their body, the coaches rebuild each person from the ground up, showing them just what they’re capable of both mentally and physically in a professional and nurturing setting.
And as the arena fills with laughter, chatting and cheering supporters, the beat of a live DJ, flashing lights, smoke machine, glitzy waitressed VIP tables, hair-raising ringside seats and energetic crowds of waving hands and camera phones, the announcer bellows out “Let’s get ready to rumble!” sending the room filled with thousands into a frenzy. The fear, adrenaline and excitement each fighter must face as they make their way along the stage and into the ring must be off the scale, ducking between the ropes and into the waiting arms of their coaches to meet their opponent for the first time. You could literally cut the tension with a knife as the crowd watches on from the edge of their seats, the referee doing his checks before the fighters touch gloves and the bell sounds for the start of the first round.
Fight or flight is an incredible emotion and we can never truly predict how we will react in any situation until it happens. The majority of the fighters who enter Train Like A Pro have never had a fight, never been hit, never face conflict or aggression, yet here they are, gumshield in mouth, helmet and gloves, breathing, panting, panicking and pouncing into action. And I’m sure time must stand still for them once they enter the ring, blinding hot lights from above glaring down and sending the roaring crowd into darkness as cameramen race around to capture the action live, judges watch their every move and their coaches roar advice and techniques from the side of the ring. Is it over in a heartbeat or does every second feel like years? Does it hurt being punched in the ribs and face or does adrenaline numb it all? The only way to find out is to take part.
And if anything answers these questions then it’s the look of relief, excitement and pride on each of the fighters face after thy leave the ring, whether they win, lose or draw their achievements are immeasurable and the money they have raised for local charities will undoubtedly help so many. I was privileged to have had a ringside view of the event and felt every drop of blood, sweat and tears that went into it from both the fighters and staff. I would like to say a big congratulations to all who took part and challenge you to take a step to improving your life, no matter how small it may seem, every little helps.