How to Be Great, Part 2: Strengthen the Mind

January 11, 2012 January 11, 2012 by Johnny N Boxing Training, Mental Training 92 Comments

The great Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

We can only accomplish what we THINK is possible. Your mind sets the goals in your life and determines whether you’ll get there. If you dare to be great, how strong must your mind be?

strengthen the mind

Better yet, how do you strengthen the mind?



Boxing Life is 90% mental and 10% physical.

Your whole life will be a collection of emotions, thoughts, and memories. What you did and how you did it, will never compare to what you felt in the moment. A sad memory is a thousand times more painful than a broken bone. Human beings are emotional creatures; our lives will ALWAYS be more mental than physical. Our strength is our minds, not our bodies!

Everyone works out the body, but how often do you work out the mind? Your mind is your health, your capability, your human identity. A strong mind can overcome fear, paint a picture, strategize a fight. If your mind can do it, then yes — YOU can do it!


LESSON TWO: Strengthening the Mind

Do you remember that time when you couldn’t do something? It was something you’ve never done before like jumping in the water or getting on a bike. You were so afraid and your mom had to tell you, “You can do it. It’s all mental. It’s all in your head.”

Your whole life is going to be that moment over and over again. For the rest of your life, you will be forced do things that you couldn’t previously do. Not just you but everyone. We will forever be faced with the moment of truth, day after day after day…this is, of course, assuming you’re living the life of greatness.

Back in high school, I was facing my very own “moment of truth” on a daily basis. And I’ll tell you exactly how I dealt with them…


Auto Suggestion

Auto-suggestion allows you
to control your self-conscious and strengthen your mind.

Auto-suggestion is a concept commonly toted of all time as one of the best ways to mentally train yourself for success. The concept is simple, you keep telling yourself the same thing over and over. It’s a form of self-hypnosis allowing you to control your sub-conscious, and empower yourself to do the impossible. There’s an entire field psychology and countless success books established around this concept.

I never heard of the term “auto-suggestion” until about 3 years ago. The funny thing was, I was doing it long before I started boxing. When I was 15 years old, I built a reputation as being one of LA’s best young skateboarders. Everyone called me “Crazy Johnny”. I was notorious for jumping down long flights of stairs, leaping off rooftops, and other dangerously high drops.

But nobody knew my one secret…

Before every jump, I was scared out of my mind!!!

I am not fearless. I’m made of flesh and bone. I bleed just like all other skaters. I had to talk myself into the stunt several hours before attempting the jump. I would stand at the top of the stairs for hours, repeating to myself over and over with this one poem I made up:

I have no fear.
I feel no pain.
I cannot bleed.
I will not die.

…am I being a sissy? YES. Am I freaken insane? YES. Did my silly poem work? YES!!!

I had to repeat the poem maybe a hundred times, sometimes for a few hours before I was brave enough to jump. I recited it in my head at first. Then saying it out so that I could hear it. Then I yelled it for the whole world to hear. My friends loved it, they knew the poem meant that I was going to jump after all. The jump seemed less daunting after every time that I recited the poem.

At some point, I stopped reciting because the poem echoed endlessly in my head. Ok, NOW I’m ready.

Johnny skateboarding

This is me on a skateboard.
2 hours of mental preparation, 10 seconds of physical execution.


Mental Exercise

Treat the mind like you would your body. It needs regular exercise. If you don’t strengthen your mind regularly, it grows weak. Your mind forgets what you’re capable of; it lets you down when you need it most.

We all need mental strength. In the most precious moments of our lives, we become more human than ever. More afraid and more alive than ever. These moments will shred you to pieces if your mind isn’t strong! But if you’ve been strengthening your mind, your fear WILL be replace with peace, confidence, and guidance. The LAST thing you need during your moment of truth, is a little voice in your head telling you that you can’t do it.

You need to tell yourself over and over:

You can do it!
You can do it!
You can do it!

Recite this in the locker room before your fight. And don’t you DARE leave that locker room until you believe in your victory 100%. I mean, if you can’t even convince yourself that you’re gonna win, you have no business taking the fight. Don’t expect in others to believe in you, this is YOUR FIGHT, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, YOUR VICTORY. The greatest fights you will have in life will be won alone. So start now, start today. Tell yourself what you need to hear, what you need to do.

“You can do it.”

It’s awkward at first. You feel stupid. You feel like you’re lying to yourself. That there is no way you can ever be good. That’s ok, I felt just as stupid the first time I tried push-ups. My arms couldn’t hold my body but I kept trying. A few years later, I held the record in my army platoon for most push-ups in one minute.

Work out your mind
just like you work out your body.

You can do it, keep saying it. At least believe in the words, if not in yourself. Little by little, you start to think success MIGHT be possible. A few more times and now you’re sure it’s possible. Then you keep saying it, and you say it louder and prouder because now you KNOW you can do it. You’re not only sure it’s possible, you’re certain of victory. It’s in these moments of self-conviction, that one becomes great.

Look yourself in the mirror. Look at yourself dead in the eye and tell yourself, “You can do it!” Do it now or cry later when you lose. One way or another, you will have to face yourself.


Coach Yourself for YOUR Future

No champion ever says after his victory, “I was so afraid I wasn’t going to win. I never thought I could do it. I’m so lucky to be champion.”

It’s usually more along these lines of…”I worked hard and I deserved it. I want to thank everyone for their support. I’ve been dreaming of this day for a very long time.”

Becoming great takes a long time. If I want a sandwich, I can make one in 15 minutes. But if I want to be great, it will take me years, maybe decades. If you want to win that fight tomorrow, your mind should have been strengthened a long time ago! It would have changed the way you trained up until this moment. And you wouldn’t be nervous now.

“My passion is my strength.
I’m dedicated and motivated.
I work hard and I deserve it.
I use my resources to overcome challenges.
Success is my reward, my right, my future.
I can do it.”

– Johnny Nguyen (I made this up right now)

Tell yourself what you need to hear. Say to yourself what you wish people would say to you. Motivate yourself, compliment yourself, strengthen yourself. Take care of yourself and be responsible for YOUR future.

You’re not being great for others,
you’re being great for yourself!


Self-Coaching for Greatness

You’re going to be alone if you want to be great. You will be training when no one else trains. You will have thoughts no one can understand. You may ask for help one day and no one will be there. Be prepared to cry alone. Without a strong mind to guide yourself, you will not survive the path to greatness.

Being great is more than overcoming the odds, achieving the impossible, or proving people wrong. Being great means having a strong mind and working for what you want in life. I didn’t tell you about auto-suggestion for you to inflate your ego. Use auto-suggestion to become great, instead of just thinking that you are great.

I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.
– Muhammad Ali

Want to know the real secret to strengthening your mind? You don’t wait until right before the fight. You do it when you wake up and get dressed in the morning. You do it long before training starts, before you even step into the gym. You have to remind yourself every day and every second of your life, what you’re capable of.

You can do it.


Read the other parts of this series:

boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
Did you learn something? Share It!


curtis c January 11, 2012 at 10:36 am

what do yout hink of packmans body attack I think it puts the marvel into marvelous, what your opinion, of that and its sequal?


Jacob January 24, 2012 at 4:21 am

Hey! It is a brilliant video of Manny throwing punches to the body, but I wouldn’t consider those body punches to be “putting the marvel into marvelous.” Joshua clottey is a solid fighter, but he lacks skills and against pacquiao, he was a nothing, but a mere punching bag, having no head or upper body movement. He just stood there to get punched. You don’t see those punches landing against Marquez since Marquez was constantly moving and not giving Manny the targets that can be hit.


curtis c October 19, 2012 at 3:23 am

a strong mind makes a strong body what the mind can concieave the body can achieave!


Adam January 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Johnny, great article! I’ve been boxing now for around 4 months and want to eventually compete (amateur, I’m not a huge fan of pro boxing although I do watch it). I think mental strength is one of my current weaknesses. This advice definitely does not just apply to the ring either, being mentally strong and resilient is one of the most useful attributes to have in any situation. Thanks.


J January 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Knowledge is power! Dont forget that ladies and gentleman, your mind a muscle, and what happens when one fails to work or exercise the mind? just like any other muscle it loses its strength some are fortunate and naturally have a high intellect, but the best way to expand ones mind is to read newspapers, watching the news, documentaries, book, websites such as this, the encyclopedia, etc. and the most important thing is to remember USE THAT DICTIONARY you will be surprised what you can find out and learn in a dictionary, sometimes it will define a word you dont know and the definition is a word you might need to define, opening your minds to new words and teaching your minds to exercise it. it will also lead you to understanding more complex conversations or complicated information, raising your vocabulary will open the door, with a strong mind, one will have a better chance of controlling ones emotions which is important in life especially in sports, by controlling ones emotions and keeping there mind focused the opponents attempts to “get in your head” will not prevail. Beautiful article Mr. Nguyen. i send my appreciations in full for the time, dedication, and knowledge you deliver to others.


J January 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm
moses January 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

What an article ! I think I’ll apply this to not only boxing , but my studies as well


Gordon January 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

That sandwich comment threw me off! It was good, though.

I, too, have brainwashed myself into confidence in sparring with guys bigger than me. I imagine myself fighting bigger people all the time. Not that I always do well against them, but I no longer have that fear I used to have. Your comment of 2 hours of mental preparation for just 10 seconds of action is truly inspirational.

Here’s Mike Tyson on confidence:


sicnarf January 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I love the article johnny. Thank you coach


Radd January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm

That Bernard Hopkins photo when he is strengthen his mind is made my day, thats how real man strengthen the mind lol perfect finding 🙂


stephan richardson January 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

love it


Steve January 13, 2012 at 2:28 am




Johnny N January 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm



Gil January 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

Wow, Johnny..powerful, man!


ArifG January 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Thanks Johnny for taking the time to write yet another deeply insightful and thought-provoking article. Your advice is sound as it shows awareness outside the ring and I agree with others in its application in all aspects of life. Interestingly I have trained in other martial arts (shaolin, jujitsu, mauy thai) and this is a common theme where the focus is on mental strength and developing the same attitude that where the mind leads the body will follow. As ever looking forward to your next instalment!


Brian January 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Johnny, in your punch breakdown, you never mention the right hook (from an orthodox stance). Would it make up .05% of your punch output?



Johnny N January 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I don’t talk about the right hook because it doesn’t have much variation from the 2 more common right hand punches which is the right cross and the right uppercut. If you’re throwing the right hand to the body, it’s going to be thrown more like a right uppercut. If you’re throwing the right hand to the head, it can be thrown as an overhand right…which is like a right cross but with more of a bend in the elbow.

I would guess the reason why a pure “right hook” is seldom used is because your opponent’s left shoulder would get in the way. In theory the right hook would never hit anything except your opponent’s back…because of the way he stands.


saber khan January 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm

exactly my thot on the right hook coach… the textbook method simply makes no sense. its hard to get it across the opponents shoulder .but it can be thrown at a southpaw tho. still i think it generates less power than throwing the overhand right. the version of the right hook that works for me is a chopping hook that is a hook but its angled so its going 20 degrees from up to down (the uppercut is down to up, the shovel is 45 degrees the hook is 90 horizontal). its such an unexpected punch its devastating and it clears that shoulder, gets good power. slow tho. i can do it if the opponent has tried to slip weave or is down lower than usual and and my left hand is busy. also if we are both coming in and he wants to get up close so he is trying to walk me down. its really an unusual punch and if one does it on the heavybag it has less impact than one would think like a chopping overhand. i think the right hook to the body as u mentioned is naturally going to turn a little bit but in its pure form it can be landed. again i found that version is slooow better to let the body naturally change the punch motion


Brian January 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Ok, thanks Johnny and Sabre. I used the punch chart breakdown, and believe it or not, it worked in so many different sparring matches. I mean we think because we have so many weapons or a guy is tall to uppercut, but what worked nearly to perfection was the advice you gave about DLH and Ali using their jabs alone to win (well it was more than that, but you get the idea).


saber khan January 15, 2012 at 3:27 am

btw brilliant article coach it sounds SO SILLY but i know man just how true it is. specially the feeling stupid part when going up against a guy twice ur size… yeah its a journey all right 😀


curtis c January 15, 2012 at 9:13 am what do you think of roy jones jr and his skill what are his top 10 trciks? I think Roy Jones must be the most skilled and gifted boxer in the ring i have ever saw with my own two eyes, what do you think?


Johnny N January 17, 2012 at 9:19 am

Roy Jones is skilled but I wouldn’t say he’s the most skilled out of everyone I’ve seen.


Manex January 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

One of my favorite aphorisms:

“Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought” … Sun Tzu


saber khan January 17, 2012 at 2:05 am

curtis, i think the definition of boxing skill needs to be defined first i think youre confusing it with effectiveness 🙂 skill in boxing means technical ability, correctness. roy and ali are among the MOST technically incorrect aka unskilled fighters to ever hit the ring and win. but i agree that roy is the 2nd most GIFTED boxer ever even in the history of boxing. after sugar ray robinson. cuz sugar ray had speed, power, endurance AND chin (and roy barely even has a glass one he has more of a whipped cream chin 🙂 id say in terms of speed pound for pound no one ever has come close to roy footspeed handspeed reflexes anything. and even overall, he’d be in the top 5 ever even measured against flyweights and bantamweights. while he was a 1-punch KO artist for sure a lot of that effectiveness came from the shock of his speed. as his speed as decreased his power has gone too-and its a well known fact proven over and over true heavy handedness goes away much later than quickness. roy’s also an incredibly smart boxing thinker, when ever he commentates he can tell what the pivotal point of the fight will be and the fight turns out the way he predicts.

since im a huge roy fan, id say he is simply a boxing savant hes done things once which he never repeated again. but a few common things

* the lead left from an extremely forward position to the body or the head (he’s way over onto his front leg when throwing this shot). this was his jab and his counter punch and finishing punch and combo punch most of the time. i think roy has the most versatile left hook in boxing history by a mile. lead hand down made it so much more effective. he also throew lead left uppercuts the same way. head and body and solar plexus punches. and the secret would be how straight his arms were when he threw. no one else ever did that. it gave him length on those short punches.

* the lead left feint. it would make people jump around backwards and roy would take a small step forward then throw his real left from the slightly closer posiiton. and the opponent is offbalance allowing for a better punch.

* the solar plexus punch, a rare punch for other fighters but roy did it a lot (an uppercut to the body but at the midline)

* inviting the punch by sticking his chin out, being way out on his front foot. this was his style of course, he was much more lethal as a front foot puncher. and he could outspeed anyone if it came to a counterpunching match so he would slowly back away with that chin forward, and then suddenly leap forward with that left hand or the feint. the thing that killed him against johnson.

* the right lead to start a volley of shots (he would circle to his left and right as he threw it so if he could go left uppercut at an opponents lowered head or a left hook if the head was up high). it was a changeup for jones, and very unexpected because jones’ left hand commanded so much attention. roy did potshot with the left (throw it then either sidestep or clinch up, waiting to see if the opponent got hurt). but with the right he liked to circle and keep going throwing combos. it allowed him to close distance without getting in danger and he did an awesome job slipping the counter right slipping outside it. allowing for a left uppercut or hook follow up.

* leaning back and throwing the right lead like ali and floyd (the fastest of them all).

* the bolo left uppercut while showboating with the right and the reverse

* the 4 hook or 8 hook combo he loves (2 or 4 to the body and ends with 2 or 4 the head). he does this at a distance because he keeps his arms nearly straight when hooking roy always kept himself away from danger

* those ridiculous one handed combos. 3-3-7-5 like machine gun fire. they were so impressive specially because they contrast so much with those 2 handed combos. and these are not shoeshines, these are all power shots.

* rolling with punches (not shoulder rolls) nearly every time a punch was in range of his head. along with barrera probably the most ive seen a fighter do it. and floyd.

* a different way of holding his guard. when he was getting hit in the middle of the ring he would cross his right glove over his left wrist which covered his chin. roy took a lot of hard shots on his body and i never saw him suffer from it, i think roy had very high body resistance.

* peekabooing which roy did well up close roy did a wonderful job guarding up top no space between the gloves.

* pushing with the elbows in close, and the right glove on the opponents head so as to keep his elbow near his body and protect his chin. roy could push off and instantly throw a short right punch.

it would be nice to dissect what roy did, but i have a feeling top 25 would be better for a guy like roy 🙂 just so talented.


Alex January 17, 2012 at 7:24 am

Hi Johnny,

Great techniques and impressive execution on the site, i was hoping that you would be willing to become a strategy columnist on our boxing news website?

Drop me an email if you are interested mate.



don January 18, 2012 at 1:02 am

another great article Mr.Johnny, and Its cool that your an expert skateboarder too. In my first and only amateur fight I stepped into the ring with great confidence and thoughts on being great and winning. But I didnt do good because my enemy was really strong besides my body cant cope up with his strength. All I did was to eat all of his punches.

What to do if the mind is strong but the body is weak?


Johnny N January 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

Use that strong mind to build your body, Don. Keep working at it.


don January 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

Mr. Johnny yes I get your point, so I will just wait till the time comes when my mind is body are both strong. But what about the spirit? How can I make it strong, and what is the spirit anyway? Isnt it great to have a strong mind, body and spirit. Is this included in the topic or a separate subject? How about in shaolin, they use qi-gong is it a component of the spirit? If a person achieve greatness in all aspects he is on the top of his game?


Johnny N January 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

The mind is what you think, what you perceive, they way you define and analyze the things around you. The body is your physical essence to express and be controlled by your mind. Your spirit is your unique identity, your energy form. This could be expanded into an entirely different series of articles.


Gene January 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This is the greatest advice I have ever understood.


ODOLLA January 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for the article..cause I honestly thought that “dancing around the ring like a gangsta” made you great. Really didn’t help me much today. Awesomess as usual, nonetheless…can’t wait for the book, buddy.


curtis January 21, 2012 at 2:24 am why dont you write about punch recovery like they have hear? Is all this true does this help me recover punches more quickly to reload and refire the next? what’s your opinion? Hope to hear from you soon.


curtis January 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

why dont you write about motivation and the correct line of postive thinking like as my trainer says what you dont achieave you dont gain and this motvates me to be postive look on the plus side and look forward and work much, much harder! like in this getting outside the box i think it would really help during fight preperation and in the build up to a fight and its hype. I seriously think this would be a very good artical. hope to hear from you soon.


Alejandro January 22, 2012 at 3:31 am

First of all, Thank you Johnny, I discovered your website since september I think, but this is the first time I leave a comment, your articles are great, I appreciate that you take the time to teach us and share the love for the sport, sincerely.
Recently I’ve been fighting with myself and I keep arguing with me too much about WILL and DISCIPLINE, this last one beats the first one almost everytime it stands up, you know what I mean? I’ve been boxing “since” I was 12 years old (now im almost 21) but I mean “since” because first I’m like “yeah, lets do it, lets train hard and be a champ, no matter what it takes” but eventually months later I “forgot” what I said, and sadly I quit for stupid reasons I manage to build up; Then months after that, I return and I train hard for a while and then again the same story, I truly feel that I have a passion for the sport, even when I dont train I think in boxing all day, I shadowbox everywhere too, in every city I travel I search for a boxing gym and train with the people there even if im there for only a few days, in fact I love to train in different gyms, every day I watch a fight on the internet or tv, I love to talk about boxing even with my girlfriend my grandmother haha, with everyone… I love the sport, I love to learn, to share, but that things keeps happening to me, and that is very… discouraging. I’m planning to return next month because I will move to another city and you know “new city, new life, new opportunity” but this time I dont want to fail me again, this article truly inspired me, but can you give me any other advice? how do I preserve that flame?, please.
Thank you for reading!


ali January 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

first of all thank you Johnny, i have been using this website for more than a year now.
i just recently had my first fight and got out boxed by a much taller opponent but it was a good fight and i enjoyed it.
Can you please do and article on how to deal with a loss and the come down after a fight?


Johnny N January 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

That was your first fight and you had fun, which is GREAT! You’re on the right track. All the pain you feel, remember that when you train. Remind yourself everyday how much you hated losing. As for dealing with the loss, go home and cry about it. Cry out all the pain you felt and then move on. Good luck on your next fight, ali.


Johnny N January 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

Alejandro, maybe you just love boxing but not training. Amazingly, I would argue that a good work ethic matters more than boxing talent because 99% of preparing for a fight is training hard. The fight itself is the last 1%. Maybe you can look at other ways to be a big part of boxing without having to burn yourself out in the gym. I made a website to share my passion for boxing. Maybe you can figure something out for yourself…. whatever it is, you definitely have the passion for it and you’ll be the best.


Ryan Collins January 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Johnny, I’m addicted to this website. You writing is capturing and no-nonsense and you tell us the things we want to hear! I have been on and off training for 3 years for fitness, confidence and now I want to experience a bout. I work in a casino so my hours are all over the place, it means im tired alot. This is the main excuse my brain sends when I’m due a session, that or maybe I can only attend one in a week and I’ll tell myself I’ll go back when I can attend all 3. Is it possible with these shift patterns and maybe a possible 50% attendance to the gym I can prepare for novice boxing? I’m not dreaming of becoming a champion, I just want to prove to myself and my friends that I can commit to something and see it through. I just want my few minutes of fame in the ring. I want to achieve something!
I write this at 5am, after 5 hours sleep, right before my shift ;). Happy days eh?
Johnny your an inspiration and a tutor, keep it up.

Ryan C


Johnny N January 28, 2012 at 12:39 am

Thank you, Ryan! I’m honored to be part of your boxing journey. With enough determination, you WILL make it through. Remember to come back and post your fight video. Get some rest and good luck!


Ales January 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Hi Johnny, what Bernard Hopkins do in the picture? What muscle does he train? And for what? Thanks


Johnny N January 28, 2012 at 12:27 am

Ales, he’s doing neck exercises. It builds a strong neck, good for absorbing punches, deflecting punches. Good conditioning for the muscles around the head.


Ales January 29, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks again Johnny 😀


latebloomer February 14, 2012 at 2:30 am

Very Moving and helpful! Thank you, Johnny.


Leo R. March 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Man I had my first knock down of my life and it was during a sparring session against a different gym. But this article is very helpful from now on I will say to myself I can do it. Thx Johnny. By the way do you know any exercises I can do to prevent from me getting K.O.??


Johnny N March 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm

DEFENSE EXERCISES! hehehe. Skills, not muscles, will prevent you from getting knocked out.


Alex May 21, 2012 at 12:13 am

Great article Johnny, i believe everyone needs to read this article. ive been boxing for about 2 years now and ive done other martial arts as well but a true fighters strength is definitely in the mind. thank you for taking the time to make this. the only person that can stop me, is me.


Austin May 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

Hey I really want to start training but my parents won’t allow me to. I am 17 years old and won’t be 18 until April of next year. The more I read the more I would like to become a fighter one day. I need advice to either convince my parents or should I wait till I’m 18? The money is a hard part also. I don’t think I can afford equipment or a gym at this moment. Kind of stuck right now but I am willing to try almost anything. Thanks for this wonderful article taught me a lot of different things.


Johnny N May 31, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Looks like you need to train on your own until your parents let you do it.


Austin June 1, 2012 at 8:56 am

Thought so. I’ll just keep training on my own thanks :). By the way what bag size is the best to start out and what are excersises I can do without too much equipment? Thanks again.


Johnny N December 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Start out with whatever you have. Generally I recommend for fighters to work with something around half their weight. If you don’t have equipment then start with shadowboxing.


Jay June 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Couldn’t agree with this article more. Mental strength and power of positive thought is the key to life. I spent a few years in the army starting at the age of 17 where I learnt that the body is a machine that will do anything the mind asks it to do, you’ve just got to know how to get the mind to ask it.
I carry that with me now, 15 years on, in my current job where I deal with some horrific incidents that people end up in and look to me to get them out of it. Mental strength is the key, saying to myself “there is nothing that can’t be done, just got to work out how to do it”.

Congrats on a great website I’ve recently found. Some great stuff on here I will spend hours learning from.


Gerardo June 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

Really wise words Johnny, but the thing that sucks is that sometimes even when you do all of those things you still don’t quite make it :/ what do u do after that? how do you prepare your mindset for things like that?


Johnny N June 22, 2012 at 3:36 am

Failure is part of the learning experience. If you don’t like failure, avoid difficult things. Most champions take 10-20 years to realize their dreams. And most people quit before even trying at 100% for 5 years.


Ramzi July 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Hey Johnny,

This article was fantastic, and it kind of made me realize what I have been doing all along, preparing myself

and convincing myself that I fear nothing using auto-suggestion. The only issue is it takes me half of the

first round of a bout to realize that I should not fear to use my abilities. Sometimes I forget what I am

capable of doing to my opponent and just hide in a shell and wait for him to come to me. How do I break

out of this shell and unleash what is within. I know I am capable of unleashing it because I have seen

myself do it time and time again! (devastate other fighters in the ring). But when that confidence isn’t

there I find myself getting caught with lazy punches and stuck in the corner because that tiny amount

of fear still lingers within me. So, my question is, how do I get rid of this fear or is this just a natural

occurrence that all fighters have to deal with? It only seems to happen the first two rounds of fights.



Johnny N July 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Everyone deals with some form of fear. Keep working at it!


Joshuah M July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Thanks Johnny for the great article, i’ve been reading your stuff for about a month and i love them all!
For me if i was about to be in a street fight or a hitting drill in football (by the way i was the shortess kid in football 5-15 and i was the shortest in school or at least 2nd or 3rd, til 11th) I would be nervous and scared not of getting beat up but of the embarrassment of losing it would make me mad, i don’t really say you can do this ect. i tell myself about the embarrasment til it makes me “crazy” and i can say i was probally the hardest hitter in football and have never lost a fight. So do you think i should stop the anger prep i’ve been doing? or does that work as well as the positive mental prep?
Im 6 ft now 🙂


Vato Loco July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I actually think more people fear failure, losing, or looking bad than they do physical pain. Sooner or later we all lose whether it’s a boxing match or something else. Just like people get angered more by being laughed at than even insulted. Rocky Marciano was vicious in the ring but he was so relaxed before a fight that he would actually fall asleep in the dressing room.


Johnny N July 26, 2012 at 3:22 am

Do whatever works!


vvtill July 25, 2012 at 5:33 am

sorry this question may not be related to this topic, but may i know will anger make us lost in any fight? But it is hard to control our anger in a fight especially street fight, and sometime when you fight in the ring, your opponent may say something to insulted and provoked you.


Johnny N July 26, 2012 at 3:29 am

Anger can be used in your favor or against you. You will lose if your opponent has more control over your emotions than you do.


vvtill July 27, 2012 at 6:43 am

Since i seldom go to gym nowadays, i seldom sparring and just practice at home. But i notice that i’m still in fear despite so much training, i dun understand why? How do we overcome our fear? (A fear of lose, a fear of being hit, and a fear of injured)


Johnny N July 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Fear can be a result of lack of confidence. You have to learn how to be confident even while losing fights. If you can do this, you will never fear anything again. Training harder helps, and training with the right mindset helps. If you are TOO afraid, maybe you’re training too hard for yourself. Turn it down a notch and give your skills (and confidence) a chance to catch up to the competition.


MadSamurai September 1, 2012 at 10:31 am

Love this article. Very inspiring and intelligently written. Well done!


FELIX November 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm



Tyler Shinn November 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I just wanted to say thanks for all the time you have put into this. I find things through your articles that teach me things or refine my mind/game often. God bless ya man. Keep following your dreams..


Johnny N November 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thank you, Tyler. Good luck in your future as well. 😉


Frederic December 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

Johnny what a great piece of advise. YOU are very smart and you’d make a great corner man or psychologist for fighters. As a fighter myself i can testify that boxing has nothing to do with physicality at some point the body will do the work but if the fighter is afraid or has a weak mind he can not perform i was there, I’m still there today but i overcome this before each sparring session i have to go through a mental preparation of probably 3 days as i spar tough opponent 6’3 guys 200lbs and up. “The fight game is won in the mind game” ( just made that up) so before i step in the ring i fought the fight probably 10 rounds in the my head prior to the real fight and i already beat my opponent, i picture myself as this elusive, super athletic boxer that read movement bob weave and is amazing, the truth is when i step in the ring that is exactly what i do even against all odds when the whole gym wants you to loose, you still come out victor c’se self coaching brings greatness. What normal peoples see as cockiness we fighters use it to fortify our spirit and mind, you can’t be humble in the ring you have to fight for survival and be confident. Generally speaking i went through your website and I’m amazed by the accuracy of your knowledge. This article I just read about strengthening the mind is a masterpiece my friend. You made my day sir Johnny Nguyen


Johnny N December 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm

“The fight game is won in the mind game.” – I like that. Keep doing what you’re doing, Frederic.


james January 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

hey johhny i need help i been doing boxing for 1 months i learn to trow hook and learn upper cut very easy but the right strait is giving me problems of learning it i can execute the right strait but iam comfuse on what to think before trowing it i use to think my elboy and shoulder is this right


Johnny N January 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I have some videos on the ExpertBoxing youtube channel demonstrating the technique for right hands. Please watch them carefully.


james January 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

thanks for replying bro i see the video to stretch the inside and outside iam more comfortable strething the 2 smaller knockels than the 2 big one

P January 4, 2013 at 7:36 am

This is the greatest article I have ever read in my life. No joke. Thank you so much for providing the inspiration and brain food that I need to achieve success in my life. You are truly a great soul and wise to an extreme. :-). I wish you a lot of success in life, Although through internet, you’re truly one of the most influential and inspiration individuals I’ve encountered in my life. THANK YOU.


Roland Allen January 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hi Johnny
I’ve just taken up the sweet science, and I have to say it has really helped me in every single aspect of my life. I was worried that I was too old etc, but reading your articles have really helped me overcome my self doubts and all the other info on this site is SO useful, not only to boxing but also applicable to almost every area of life. I would like to echo P and say THANK YOU too!


Brendon January 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Thank you for the example with the bike… That made me realize that there’ve been so many times I couldn’t do something, I thought I’d never be able to, but when I gave it a try, it was a lot of fun and not at all as hard as I’d thought.


james March 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

This has really inspired me! Great stuff. I really appreciate it. I’ve designated you a place in my mind as my imaginary coach. You can do it, I love it!


Andrew March 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Hi johnny

Thanks for the advice, this will work both in and outside the ring


Stan Levin March 23, 2013 at 1:49 am

Johny I read your site all the time. Really good advice. I think you are a genious in the way. I also think you are a great guy. Thanks for doing it. And please keep up the good work.


Dom March 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I gotta say thank you, I grew up in chicago and when i was young i fought a lot and won a lot, I am about your size, as time went on i stopped of course but still always die a little more inside when i am bullied or see that happen to someone else and do nothing. I do still train cqb and etc. but to put my mind back to being a highly motivated individual that can and will produce when called on will bring me the greatest pleasure in life. next week i have a weld test for a 80 k yr job that aint common for welding, I bet i pass and if not im damn sure goin out like a man. thanks again.


Johnny N April 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Congratulations, Dom! I wish you the best.


Zoe May 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm

thank you for sharing your thoughts! this series is an inspiration to me and is exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m an opera singer, not a boxer- but the process of ‘how to be great’ is the same, and I think we under-estimate how much we can change for the better by changing our mindset and mastering our thoughts! Best of luck to you in all your endeavours & thanks again. 🙂


Lucy May 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

Love your poem. I’ll use it when I have to spar with a 80kgs guy XD


Johnny N May 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

Lucy, you’re fighting 80kgs men?!


Damian July 22, 2013 at 5:41 am

Hey, Johnny.
I truly appreciate your articles mate, they’re great motivators and sources of knowledge.

A “true” thank you, for all your work and dedication.


Ankur July 23, 2013 at 6:44 am

Johnny, I like your thoughts. It is very essential that we train our mind as it is all mental. If we want to achieve anything in our life, only if we set our mind towards it i.e. as Napolean Hill says that we use auto-suggestion to make our subconscious mind believe that we can do ‘it’; and once we’ve set our mind on that goal, if we ACT and take the necessary actions, we can accomplish that goal and in fact any goals that we set for our self.

Here’s my 2013 Just Do It List.

I’ve just decided that I’m gonna go out there and just do these things. My biggest help has been my mental training. So anyone who’s reading this, train your mind and you shall train yourself for life.


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