top of page
carousel copy-4.png

Thanks for subscribing!

Sign up below for simple ideas to help you thrive.


Boxing for Beginners: What to Expect When Starting Boxing


Boxing is a great sport for building self-confidence, improving fitness, and developing self-defense skills. However, for beginners, entering a boxing gym for the first time can be intimidating. In this article, we will explore what to expect when starting boxing, including fundamental techniques, fitness, sparring, and competition.


People usually have a preconception about boxing gyms, that they are intimidating and aggressive (which isn’t helped by the theatrics of todays youtube boxers) but in reality boxing gyms are welcoming and friendly environments, where people come together to share knowledge and develop their skills. 


Boxing provides many benefits, I believe that the number one benefit is keeping you in touch with reality, by keeping your mind and body connected.

dan Sarkozi teaching boxing


dan sarkozi

Good personal trainers can change your body.

Great personal trainers can change your mind set.


Dan Sarkozi did more than that.


He changed my life.

Fidel Beauhill.

What to expect.

Boxing is a sport that can be learned at any age, regardless of your level of fitness or experience.


While there are risks involved in the sport, with proper coaching and training, you can learn how to manage those risks intelligently. It's important to start boxing progressively, taking things one step at a time.


There’s no pressure on you to get punched if you don’t want to. I’ve never been to a gym that forces you to spar. Take your time and when you’re ready your coach will suggest sparring.

ou can learn how to manage those risks intelligently. It's important to start boxing progressively, taking things one step at a time, until you are confident that you can defend yourself.

Older man hitting a heavy bag under supervision of dan sarkozi

The first time entering a boxing gym can be intimidating, preconceived notions of boxing being purely violent keep many people who would benefit from boxing away.


Boxing gyms are generally respectful and friendly places. By entering, doing your best and being humble you earn the respect of your peers. Real boxing gyms aren't flashy places, people aren't respected because of the outfit they are wearing or the size of their muscles. 


A boxing gym is a place where you exercise your grit and resilience, executing the technical skills to the best of your ability under pressure. 


Boxing requires that we go to our cardiovascular limits, while maintaining our composure and discipline. So, expect to be confused, exhausted and uncoordinated. Boxing is an art, it’s not something you pick up in a few months. It takes years of layering technique, conditioning, strategy and then ultimately determination to overcome the efforts of your opponent. 


And anyone committed to that path earns the respect of their peers.


 Not only will you be in the best shape of your life, feeling confident that you can defend yourself. You’ll also gain the self respect that comes from knowing you have the ability to generate the courage required to win.


But don’t expect that immediately, you’ve got a long way to go before that:

In reality, the first time you enter a boxing gym you’ll be hit by the smell of sweat, the sound of skipping ropes ticking the floor and a shrill bell that rings every 3 minutes. Don’t be intimidated by the trainer when they shout hello, they’re not trying to be intimidating, it's just to get over the noise.


Your first time slipping your hands into a battered pair of gym gloves is a precious memory, it’s a right of passage that you should savour. You’ll wash your hands multiple times through the day after and the smell still won't leave.


In your first times attending a class expect to be led through the mayhem by both the shouting coach and the people who are more experienced. The gym is a community where one learns to exist in the bubbling chaos, in short, it's meant to be confusing, chaotic and overwhelming. 

Everyone is in the same boat, unless they have mastered the fundamentals and are in a process of refinement. The takeaway here is, it’s okay to be out of your comfort zone. That’s the point.

The first time entering the gym

Q. What should i expect on my first day

Q. But shouldn’t i come away understanding the technique

Boxing is about feel, not just accreditation. 

I was once told that i was more qualified than Robert Mccracken, British commonwealth champion & European champion for performing a level 2 qualification by the course leader, who had never boxed.

Obviously this is not true.

Some things can only be learned through experience, no theoretical understanding will be equivalent. So trust your coaches' experience and Trust the process. The modern world wants to make everything packageable but boxing can’t be packaged, its techniques need to be kept in touch with reality.

Things won't make sense at first, but later on you’ll discover that by being open to your coaches instruction, even when it doesn't make sense, opportunities appear later on. Opportunities that wouldn’t be available if you were blinded by your preconceptions.

Be wary of anyone who says this is right and this is wrong. Even the right move at the wrong time is the wrong move, every boxer has a different ethos, feel and method of application. 

Prince Naseem was one of the greatest boxers of all time and no textbook would teach boxing how he boxed. There have been many different styles of boxing, to learn more about the evolution of boxing check out my all time greats course.

The takeaway here is that boxercise is different from boxing. Hitting pads to impress people on instagram is totally different from learning how to box. Boxing is an art that requires body, mind and spirit. A truly qualified coach shapes all of those, over time.

Trust the process. 

At the end of training you will feel part of a community and that you have had an all round workout, body and mind. Learned some new skills and realized that this community is not so intimidating after all.

You should try to remember one key thing, enjoy every session. 

Fundamental Techniques.

Boxing technique is developed with four aims: Knocking the opponent out, landing clean

punches, avoiding punches, and ring generalship. Just as differing governing bodies place

different emphasis on these four aims, so do different boxers and coaches. This leads to

different boxers and coaches using different techniques to win a boxing match.


The multitude of techniques we have seen since the start of The Marques of Queensberry rules are a result body type and personality expressed within these basic constraints;


‘A boxer must be able to punch and avoid getting punched, only touch the floor with

their feet, and keep their head above their waste. ‘


Every boxer operates within these criteria differently, but common principals have emerged from the many attempts.

The foundational stance


The aim of footwork is to be able to move quick without falling over, slip and weave without falling over, block punches without getting knocked over, and deliver punches from a stable base if they wish to have power. Angelo Dundee said about Sugar Ray Leonard ‘without balance, you have nothing’.

Use the width of the shoulders to place one foot in front of the other. Make sure the feet

are offline by a shoulder-width. Both feet should be positioned in diagonal corners of a

square with sides equal to your shoulder width in length. Rotate your feet 45 degrees in the

direction of the back-foot side. Rotate the torso 45 degrees, in line with the direction of the

feet. Twist the neck until the chin almost touches the front shoulder. Lower the chin until

your eyeballs are looking up to see straight in front. Place your rear hand above your jaw


and below the top of your ear. Place your lead hand a few inches in front of your nose.

Make a fist by rolling the fingers closed and covering the index and middle fingers with the



This increases stability by allowing the boxer to use their back leg as a pilar to stop them

getting knocked backward. Getting knocked backwards decreases chances of landing clean

blows and controlling ring positioning – ring generalship. Putting one leg forward has other

impacts. It increases the reach of the lead hand. It decreases the available power of the lead

hand. It allows the boxer to face their opponent through the side of their body, presenting

the opponent with a narrow target. It places the rear hand farther away from the opponent,

making it more difficult to land. It increases the available power of the rear hand.

Basic techniques

A brief list of boxing techniques.:

  • Blocking - A defensive technique used to stop or deflect an incoming punch by using the boxer's arms and gloves to create a barrier between themselves and their opponent.

  • The jab - A quick, straight punch thrown with the lead hand to keep the opponent at bay, set up other punches, or score points.

  • The cross - A powerful punch thrown with the rear hand, which can generate a lot of force and is often used to finish combinations.

  • The lead hook - A punch thrown with the lead hand, which aims to connect with the side of the opponent's head or body.

  • The rear hook - A punch thrown with the rear hand, which aims to connect with the side of the opponent's head or body.

  • The lead uppercut - A punch thrown with the lead hand, which aims to connect with the opponent's chin or body from an upward angle.

  • The rear uppercut - A punch thrown with the rear hand, which aims to connect with the opponent's chin or body from an upward angle.


As a beginner, you can expect to spend a lot of time working on fundamental techniques. These skills provide the foundation for all your boxing training, and it's important to practice them regularly to build your muscle memory and improve your technique.

Boxing Fitness.

In addition to fundamental techniques, you can expect to work on your fitness through conditioning drills such as jumping rope, shadowboxing, and hitting the heavy bag. These exercises will help improve your endurance, strength, and overall physical fitness.



Boxing heavy bag routine

Skipping technique: Boxers approach skipping as a warm-up exercise to get their heart rate up and improve their footwork. Skipping also helps to improve their coordination, rhythm, and endurance Explore skipping with my skipping fundamentals videos

This is a technique where boxers practise their movements and punches without hitting anything. It helps them to work on their technique, footwork, and combination of punches. Boxers approach shadow boxing as a way to visualise their opponent and work on their defensive skills.

Boxers approach hitting the heavy bag as a way to improve their punching power, speed, and accuracy. It also helps them to work on their footwork, balance, and endurance. Boxers hit the bag in different combinations, such as jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.

Boxing strength and conditioning

Boxers approach strength and conditioning as a way to improve their overall physical fitness and endurance. This includes exercises such as weight lifting, plyometrics, and cardio workouts. It helps boxers to develop the strength and stamina needed to last multiple rounds in a fight.


How does mobility affect boxing? What's the difference between mobility and flexibility? A former bodybuilder who used to train with me was unable to punch normally. Due to his lack of shoulder and chest mobility he was unable to bring his elbows close together to maintain a tight guard, and unable to release the tension to allow his limbs to whip while punching.


Together we did drills and stretches that relaxed his rotator cuff muscles and adjusted his weight lifting training regime to be boxing orientated, which delivered more improvements.

The sparring continuum

Partner drills are between two boxers. The amateur boxing association of England defines it as a continuum of technique. From technique sparring all the way to competition.

Technical sparring

Conditioned sparring

Body sparring

Static partner drills are good for practising a more realistic version of the technique. England boxing describes technical sparring as:


“In technique sparring, a specific skill is developed. The speed is usually controlled, and the sparring partner usually acts in a semi passive role. e.g. lead hand to the head with a block as a defence. Technique sparring is to develop movement control of the skill.”


They are good for getting your eye and mind to recognise the body shapes of your opponent and what goes with them, as well as preparing the body to execute techniques in a safe and controlled manner.

For example, I may have two boxers stand in the middle of the ring and take turns to jab and parry alternatively or you could have a controlled spar where the only punch they are allowed to throw is the jab.


England boxing describes conditioned sparring as:

“​​Conditioned Sparring In conditioned sparring the coach sets a condition (or several conditions) that each boxer must adhere to. The speed is more realistic than a technique spar but the power is usually kept quite low. The sparring is generally geared to skill development in an individual. Developing adaptability, decision making and tactical awareness . Skill Adaptability Training Adapting & Learning Movement Variability Perception (see) Decision & Action (Do)”


This provides realistic repetitions, you get the feel, you condition your body and you learn the technique in a relaxed way, as the threat your opponent provides is limited.

Before you start full sparring, you'll likely do some body sparring to practise your techniques at a reduced intensity with a partner.

Body sparring is a simulated fight where boxers are limited to punching the body only. Body Sparring allows you to experience the intensity of a fight without worrying about getting hit in the face.

Open sparring

Once you've built up your skills and fitness level, you can move on to full sparring with other boxers in the gym. Sparring is where you put your skills to the test in a simulated fight situation, with a coach present to ensure your safety.

England boxing defines open sparring as
“In open sparring the range of punches and defences are unlimited. Punches and footwork are full speed. Even in open sparring the power is often reduced. Open Sparring still has a level of learning and development. Boxers to refine their skills, apply new skills and adapt to meet the demands of the situation. Performance Training Performance Optimisation Performance Stability Deception Reflect – Post Session: “


Conclusion every individual has their own circumstance they will be attracted for different reasons. Everyone can box to a level that delivers what they are looking for, be that fitness, confidence or competition.


If there is one universal principle to take from this post it would be to make sure your coach has boxed and has experience in coaching 


and second make sure to enjoy your boxing!

Sparring FAQ

A very controversial question. Some would say whenever they want to, some people would say whenever the coach is ready. I personally try to juggle the two.  The most important thing for me is that the participants want to spar. I try to hold them back until I feel they have some basic elements of defence. 


However, everybody learns differently. There are many people who look great on the bag, hitting pads or in controlled sparring, but struggle in open sparring and there are many who struggle with all the training methods apart from sparring. 


But the main thing is that the person has to want to spar.

Q. What are the risks of sparring

Q. What attitude should I take towards injury?

Q: how should I approach sparring?

Q. When should somebody spar?

Concussion, hand injuries, facial injuries are risks, but with a good coach these risks are mitigated.

My opinion is that it’s the coaches responsibility to reduce injury. That means making sure partners are evenly matched, if one boxer becomes tired i stop the session, if another is hitting too hard for their partner i intervene. I don’t believe that the boxers should focus on injury, it’s the coaches responsibility to create a safe space. As a boxer you should only focus on your performance.

You should speak to your coach, and ask them if they think you are ready and how they want you to behave. Fundamentally your coach should be somebody more experienced than you, with a lot of sparring experience. They’ll be able to give you instructions to get the best out of you.


A realistic expectation is to perform the techniques you have learned on the bags, pads and shadowboxing to 50% your normal level, when you first spar.


Even though I was a successful professional boxer, Boxing was never competitive for me.


 I viewed it as something initially difficult and intimidating. I felt that if I was good at getting into a confined space with somebody who can fight and handle myself well, then that physical conditioning and mental composure would serve me well in every other area of life.


For me boxing was a competition with yesterday's version of myself.


Although I understand some people are highly competitive and for them boxing is a great outlet, They can express their competitive spirit and gain great benefits to their personality. Boxing competition develops mental resilience, results in high levels of concentration as well as getting into the best physical condition possible.


Ultimately, whether you are trying to better yourself or everybody else, competition pulls greatness out of us. It pushes us to train at our hardest and we learn our own capabilities.

Q: What kinds of competitions can I enter?

Q.What is Unlicensed boxing aka white collar boxing?

Q. What is amateur boxing?

You can join your local amateur Club where you will be officially carded and match to someone of the same level as you where it goes on your official amateur record. if you become a registered amateur this gives you the opportunity to enter amateur tournament such as the under 10 bounce national competition, or the national competition, the open class national championship or the Masters national championship. and then of course there is always the option to go professional if you have the mineral sun.

When you start boxing there are many options in this day and age. you can begin with unlicensed aka white-collar aka charity boxing aka semi professional boxing at most local MMA clubs and leisure centres or you can become a registered amateur boxer and compete in the divisions regulated by boxing england

When you start boxing there are many options in this day and age. you can begin with unlicensed aka white-collar aka charity boxing aka semi professional boxing at most local MMA clubs and leisure centres or you can become a registered amateur boxer and compete in the divisions regulated by boxing england

How do I become a professional boxer?

Once a manager is willing to sign you and on occasion the British boxing board of control will come and inspect your training and sparring to ensure you are good enough. This inspection is is especially the case if you have had 0 amateur experience 


University of boxing - what is a lineal champion.

Is it too late to start boxing?

If you think you’re too old, then you are. If you think you can learn then you can. Every circumstance is individual, some people feel too old at 30, some people begin at 30. As long as it works for you, do it!

Older man hitting a heavy bag under supervision of dan sarkozi

Not if you have a decent coach. You should be eased into everything. Ofcourse, the body recovers at a slower rate as we age, but that shouldn’t stop you from training. Some 25 year olds are unfit and some 40 year olds are athletic. Whatever your level of fitness you can still learn to box.

As a coach's age is irrelevant to me, when I work with a new boxer the first thing I ask is, what is their goal? 


If it’s to compete, then amateur competition is available until 40, unlicensed bouts (aka white collar boxing) have no age limitations, therefore with a good coach any age can enter into competition. Darren Hamilton started at 27 and won his super light championship at 33.


If the boxer's goal it’s to get fit I'd look for the biggest obstacle. If they can't perform the warmup then I'd focus on developing their cardio. If they can’t perform a press up then  we work on their strength and conditioning. If they have a bad back and can’t touch their toes then we work on mobility.


And if it’s to simply learn the sport out of love then there is no limit. If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can’ then you can’t

Q. Is the risk of injury higher?

Q. is 30 too old to start boxing?

40 is the maximum age for amateur boxers. In amateur you are matched against a similar experienced opponent. Here is a link to the amateur boxing age brackets.


England boxing states: 


Q: What is the age at which a boxer must stop competing, under AIBA rules?

A: The current cut-off for boxing at the age of 40 is 31st December of the same year that they have their 40th birthday

For example:

  • 40th birthday is on 5th June 2015 – they can box until 31st Dec 2015.

  • 40th birthday is 10th Feb  2015 – they can box until 31st Dec 2015

  • 40th birthday is 1st Dec 2015 – they can box until 31st Dec 2015 "


You can find the full amateur boxing rules here.

Q. Is 25 too old to box?

bottom of page