How to Be Great, Part 5: Dealing with Failure

October 18, 2012 October 18, 2012 by Johnny N Boxing Training, Mental Training 85 Comments

dealing with failure

We’ve all been here before. The feeling of self-doubt, uncertainty, fear, pain, confusion.  One minute I was excited to be the greatest fighter in the world. The next minute, I was wondering if boxing was even the right thing for me.

I gave up on myself a thousand times. I hated my jab, hated my footwork, even hated my own boxing style. I lost all confidence in my own abilities. The sport I had fallen in love with had become my greatest enemy. I was all but permanently retired from boxing when a light shined at the end of the tunnel.

It turns out: failure can be the greatest thing to ever happen to you. FACT: many people actually reached great success AFTER failure.

Here’s how I reached absolute failure within 6 months of boxing…


1. Excitement

Getting started in boxing, living the fantasy…

I’d have to say all failure starts with excitement. You have to be excited about something to ever really “fail” at it.

My first day of boxing was one of the most exciting days of my life. I hadn’t even stepped foot in the gym and already I was thinking, “Man, everyone is going to be amazed by my natural power!” I had seen enough Rocky movies and watched enough fights. I had never boxed before but I certainly didn’t consider myself a beginner. In my mind, I was only a few months away from bobbing and weaving like Mike Tyson.

The first day of training couldn’t gone any better. I was able to follow all my trainer’s instructions with perfect form. The jab, the cross, the hooks, uppercuts, all the footwork. My trainer said my technique was perfect, and my power & speed INCREDIBLE. Considering that other more experienced fighters were watching me, I was turning out to be every bit as good as I had imagined.

I couldn’t wait to come back the next day. I couldn’t wait to buy my own gloves. I eagerly accepted my new identity as a boxer. Not just any boxer, but one of the greatest of all time.


2. Realization

Losing fights, getting embarrassed, realizing you’re not as good as you thought…

Everyone gets humbled at some point in boxing. Sometimes it happens when you get shown up by an old trainer, or even more embarrassing—get beat up by a girl. My humbling moment came at the hands of Rigoberto, a 20-year old middleweight. He was a cousin of one of the pros in the gym and easily outweighed me by 15-20lbs. But still, I made up the betting odds to be in my favor. It wasn’t that I saw him as some sort of handicapped opponent, it’s just that I was disillusioned to think I was better than him. This is why people tell you ego can be the most dangerous thing to a man.

The first round started with me controlling the center and pushing the pace. I walked him down and threw numerous combinations from all angles. I didn’t land everything but I did connect and I definitely was the more aggressive fighter. He seemed to be confused by my speed so I let him have more of it. The more passive he got, the more confident I grew. And as more punches landed, my confidence had swollen like a giant hot air balloon.

In that second round, the giant hot air balloon was popped. He let me chase him onto the ropes where he pulled his head slightly away from my right hand and came back with a huge counter right. When I jabbed, he jabbed harder. When I blocked his jab, his right hand came around my guard. When I tried to block his jabs and rights, his left hook battered my ribs. At one point he rolled under my wide hook and threw a short right straight into my stomach. My body shook in pain and I thought I was going to barf.

I didn’t remember the Rocky Movie to be this painful. I didn’t want to be Rocky anymore; I wanted to protect myself. I cowered up in fear as Rigoberto slipped left and right and rolled under all my counters. Deadly hooks and crosses punished me for every missed jab. Any surface exposed on my head was found immediately. My gloves made a terrible umbrella in preventing his punches from raining down on me.

My trainer had seen enough and stopped the match. He took off my headgear and told me to warm down. He didn’t tell me that I did good or did bad. He didn’t say, “Nice try.” All I heard was, “You’re done.” A lot of people were watching this sparring match; in awe of the mismatch (many of them, fans of my previous battles). My little brother was there to see me slay this giant Mexican dragon, but instead saw me stopped in 2.

And just like that, my ego came crashing down like a burning fighter jet.


3. Fatigue

Getting tired of boxing, mentally and physically…

I started to get tired of boxing. I don’t know if it was mental or physical at first, but it ended up as both. My body was getting nagging injuries. My shoulders were always the first to tire out and my lower back was stiff. I always felt handicapped during sparring matches; always feeling like I could have won the match had only I been 100% healed. It wasn’t only that I never showed up at the gym 100% physically ready anymore, I was never 100% mentally ready either.

Everything bothered me. The gloves didn’t feel right, the headgear was always too loose. My hand-wraps and shoelaces kept coming undone. I swore the universe had conspired to give me a stomach ache and calf cramps before every sparring match. Although I was still one of the hardest working fighters in the gym, I wasn’t excited about boxing anymore. I trained because I had to, not because I wanted to. Sometimes when I lost count of my sit-up reps, I just rounded up the number and finished.

Sparring, for the first time in my life, was starting to feel painful.


4. Insecurity

Self-doubt, damaged confidence…

I secretly hated everything about my style. My jab always tired out my left arm. My head movement was never fast enough. I always had the worst endurance and I HATE HATE HATE when someone slips my jab.

  • When my opponents slipped my punch, I felt I was too slow.
  • When my opponents hurt me with a punch, I felt I had no chin.
  • When my opponents outworked me in the ring, I felt I had no endurance.
  • When my opponents ate my punch and countered back, I felt I had no power.

Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a boxer. Maybe I’ll never be great because I don’t have the natural talent or athletic genes. The more I trained, the worse I felt about myself. Maybe boxing’s just not for me.


5. Quitting

Slowed progress, not getting any better, skipping training…

It didn’t matter how hard I trained, I just couldn’t get any better! The harder I tried, the harder I failed. Everything worked fine on the mitts but never in sparring. I will still making the same dumb mistakes, getting caught by the same counters, and beat up by the same people.

My patience broke when I saw beginners getting better than me. It really hurt to see other beginners picking up things so naturally without being taught. They had such great balance and endurance even with so little training! It got to a point that I didn’t even want to BE in the same ring as these “beginners”.

I started skipping training days and then weeks at a time. I wasn’t man enough to admit to myself that I had quit boxing. I simply made excuses to myself that I was too busy. School, work, friends, life. All sorts of things get in the way when you’re purposely avoiding something.

The greatest failure of all
is never admitting to yourself that you failed.



Failure is the beginning (of greatness), not the end

I thought quitting would plunge me into the darkness forever. That I would never again catch up to my initial greatness, that I would never live up to high expectations I had for myself. But actually, I realized the opposite.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if you walk towards that light, you’ll find a new sun…and a new world, and a new life. You start to realize quitting isn’t the end. Actually, it’s the beginning…of a whole new you.

That’s what success really is: creating a whole new you, OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER a million times. And you can’t really make a whole new you until you quit and give up on your old self. Because the truth is, you were never that good to begin with. And it takes the realization of knowing how shitty you really are in order to grow beyond that.

You have to realize how terrible you are,
to grow beyond that.

Failure was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. I came back a month later with a clearer goal, to get better at boxing for myself. I stopped caring about beating others, or having the hardest punches, or doing the most sit-ups. All I did was listen to my trainer and put in the work. No complaints, no self-judgement, no ego. I relearned all my boxing techniques and became one of the best fighters in the gym again in less than ten weeks.

So go ahead: Get angry AND QUIT. Give up on yourself. Then come back and do everything right, and succeed beyond your wildest imaginations. I’ve given up on myself enough times to know that the way I feel doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is my technique, my training, and my strategy. On my worst days, I say to myself, “You’re a piece of shit” and then get right back to work.

Now it’s your turn. How many times have you quit already?


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!


Kyle October 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Great article! Very true, very inspiring!


Wesley October 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Which Everlast headgear are you wearing in the article picture?


Johnny N October 21, 2012 at 2:31 am

Everlast amateur competition headgear with cheeks.


Frank October 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Totally agree. With target in mind, keep going, never quit. That theory applies to every arena besides boxing.


Jimmy October 19, 2012 at 2:28 am

When is that weight training / workout routine coming out?


Johnny N October 21, 2012 at 2:34 am

I don’t know.


curtis c October 19, 2012 at 2:39 am

To me failure is just the first step towards sucsess look at Micheal Jordan, Steve Jobs, Abreham Lincon they all failed some time but bounced back learned from their past failures, improved saw good karma and use their passion as a springboard to earn their way back in the fighting game. i think this is a class A exsample. to me boxing is more then just winning but sportsmanship or having a flair for showmanship! Being humble and gracious in defeat, learn from the failure and try to embrace it as constructivly as can be. To me you have to perist through failure to make up for your past failures. What I am saying in the most succint way I can put it is that it’s all about how you react to it – so instead of being someone your not quiting and dragging your nose through the mud get up and do something about it show your worth more then what you’ve already got and stand up for what you belieave and value.

and even if you loose you loose on your own merit going out with a bang with your pride, dignity, and honor intact. belieaving, trusiting having confidence and high self esteem all the time will willpower and hope your way through any loss.

to me this how i could embrace any type of failure. what do you think?


Johnny N October 21, 2012 at 2:53 am

I really like the site. Thanks for the link, Curtis.


mach October 19, 2012 at 9:20 am

I would like to differ that faiulure is “only” a perception tho.

But yeah, exellent article.


Anton October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

Omg, you are telling me my story. I distinctly remember when I started training because I felt I had to rather then because I love it. I am back, not as often as before, but it is fun once again and I made more progress in few weeks time the I made in the last months before I quit.


Alejandro October 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

I agree slightly with you but disagree in your way of putting it down. Every boxer goes through that stage of frustration of failing and wanting to quit. And that is when you step back and start to figure out what to do – how to adapt and overcome this defeat in boxing, in other words you the boxer are getting beat, in this activity where it is about hitting, not getting hit, dominating your opponent, and it’s not happening. I’ve learned that boxing, as in war, is greatly dependent on tactics – what are the things to consider (you have to be experienced and knowledgeable enough to know what to consider – it’s unfair to ask this of a beginner) Consider your injuries, how “fresh” you are, what are your weaknesses, your strengths, what’s the ‘thing” other guy got you with, can you handle it now or is it best to train that “thing” for a week or more, finding someone to train with to help your weaknesses, not having someone to help train against the weakness, and the list goes on. And when you go in the ring with someone, you should fresh enough to give it your best! And should be aware of certain things – Have you seen the other guy fight? Is it fair (weight /experience)? Do you want to test yourself and feel you’re ready to stretch to harder opponents?
I am Rocky when I’ve sparred fresh, feeling it, feeling every bit of confidence to overcome the other guys persona or the stuff he is bringing me in the ring. And I’ve also been that idiot failure when I spared the other guy tired, week, injured, unknowing of who he is, a heavier guy, a more experienced guy….I set myself up to fail. You can’t fight a talented boxer when you are not feeling it or at a disadvantage (injury) – don’t do it. If I’m not feeling good or I’m tired, I am not sparing a talented, experienced, fresh, challenging boxer that I know I can beat at 100%. I’ve done it to many times to “test” myself in a dire condition – I thought it would be cool, cool my ass! I got nasty beat, embarrassed, thought I was an idiot for doing it again, and wondered why I’m in this sport and why I chose to beat myself.
Every athletically talented guy who walks in the gym to start training and is full of energy looking amazing and boxing like a pro, I see this “guy”, who is my weight, and say “fresh meat”. And I think I can’t wait to spar him in about two months after he’s tenderized a bit. He has to get Beat down a little with basic training before I go in with him – let the bags do its thing like they’ve done with me. This is an example of matching two talented opponents. I’ve seen good talented boxers walk in off the street, fresh, taking a little time off, and clean house sparring against good boxers that have been training hard all week.
Take all things into consideration when failing, not doing well, or just crashing. I don’t believe in “quitting” as much as adapting, overcoming, finding a way to win. My recipe is resting, healing, learning ways to improve (like coming to this site!) and coming back and doing it better. But in Most cases it’s always been, for me, resting and coming back strong, and not putting myself in a situation to lose. Again boxing to me is tactics to win, setting it up to win, or at your best to win, because trust my experience, that is what the other guy, and the other guys team is doing. And gyms have people who are always looking for inexperienced chumps to get beat on.
Just the other day one of the young bloods in the gym said to me, “hey can you beat that guy?” He was a big bruising tough looking guy killing the heavy bag that has fought a few times. I said “no not today” He said “why not today?” I said “bro I’m tired from training all week and my ankle is killing me. But next week or within this month hell yeah”. (My ankle needed time off) And that is just what happened! The guy was not in my skill but if I fought him at the time I was asked I would have been at his skill level or probably lower and get beat and bruised up by a guy I easily sat on his butt. (and btw if I fought that guy when asked, and gotten destroyed, I would feel like total crap, he would feel awesome, and the rest of the gym would see me as week and I would lose the mental edge I had on them if any) But I did win and I then was rocky, my lil bro was like “you’re the best ” which made me feel good, and I was happy because I did everything right!


Furious Filipino October 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm


First, this whole series on “How to be great” truly can open one’s insights, not just in boxing, but in anything that anyone chooses to pursue in their life.

As a beginning boxer, I can’t say that I can relate my boxing experiences with yours, but as an amateur race car driver, I can 100% TOTALLY relate to your experience. I have gone through the experience you described in this article a few times over and then some.

The only thing I have to add is that some of the things you described are synonymous of “burn-out,” and that ultimately is a lot harder to come back from than any “failure.” It’s o.k, to get mad, angry, question your skills/training/commitment–but the big red flag is if the motivation goes away to do SOMETHING about what went wrong.

Good luck with the rest of this series, and I look forward to reading all the articles on your site.


miguel October 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Hey johnny . U think u can elaborate on how ur new mindset was when u returned after
U quit. What exactly did u change about the way you thinking and attitude about training.


Johnny N October 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The biggest thing was to focus more on myself. I recorded videos of myself in sparring and instead of watching pros and pro fighters, I paid more attention to my own videos and the guys who were beating me. This allowed me to work on my own mistakes and take joy in seeing old mistakes being eliminated as new habits were formed. I cared less and less about everyone else’s progress and comparing myself to them. Naturally, this attitude allows me to go around and get more tips and information because now I’m trying to learn something new instead of just training hard and trying to beat everyone up.

At some point your body will reach its physical limit, and the best way to grow beyond that is to improve your mentality.


Lighting October 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thank you very much , Johnny!!! Such a great article! Exactly my situation! I can change!!!


curtis c October 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

OK i’m moving in to land a body shot but should i focus more on acturacy and save the power for head shots or hitting as hard as i can on two feet with implosive punching (yes ive read all your power punching guides – they rock!) and box them into submission?

And for my next question if you like could give me a exsample to help me understand if thats ok. Can I can with body shots moving backwards could i roll under them and generate enough power? I suppose I am answerring my own question and answering more then one question but what i mean if i could put it in a more succint way could rolling under punches be a suitable way to generate enough power moving backwards to counter punches to the midsection if thats possible? Catch my drift.


Johnny N October 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I’m not sure I understand your question. The universal answer is yes, there is more than one way to do something. Try them all and see what you like best. In general, moving backwards will probably take some steam off your punches.


THEBOXINGARCHIVE October 23, 2012 at 8:21 am



David October 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

I haven’t yet gotten to the point that I’ve fully quit. But I’ve pretty much gone through all of those steps other than step 5. Both for ballet and for boxing. Definitely rings more true for ballet because I’ve been at it longer. I got to the point where once I walked out in the middle of class fuming because I couldn’t handle how poorly I felt that I was doing. And certainly there were many many days that I would show up simply because I felt like I had to. Not because I was enjoying myself at all.

Recently, my bubble burst with boxing too. I realized that even by basic technique is often sloppy. When I thought that I was much further along and my form was much better. And how much hard work I have ahead of me really hit home. It was very disappointing to say the least.

But I think I’ve come up with a way to handle my bad days. Both boxing and ballet really support each other in that way. While I’m doing poorly with boxing, I don’t think of it as doing poorly with boxing. I think of it as teaching myself to relax (relaxation is what holds me back the most in ballet) and building core muscles. While I’m doing poorly in ballet, I think of it as teaching myself flexibility, balance and coordination for boxing.

So, really, neither is actually me screwing up. It’s simply me building the skills to assist with the other activity. As long as I think about it like that, it really helps keep my mind off the fact that I’m having an off day and I can more easily see the good that’s coming from it. Nothing turns an off day into a terrible day like stressing out about it and tensing up.

I don’t know if this is a long term solution for me. But it’s been working pretty well these last couple of weeks. I think that having multiple synergistic activities that you care about is a great benefit in that way. When you focus so hard on one and want so badly to do well, it often has the opposite effect.


DAN October 24, 2012 at 1:52 am

hey man nice article, but i got a problem it`s my feet .. i have flat feet (u should know what it is ) and i cant do road work or jump rope cuz it hurts having those flat feet what do u suggest me to do it`s really annoying and im running out of stamina .. please help ill be grateful ..


Johnny N October 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Swimming? Stationary bike? Don’t focus on what you can’t do. If you can’t do something, then you have to figure out another way.


CB Fighter December 10, 2012 at 9:08 am

Very well put, I hate the word ‘cant’ its such a negative word. If you break the word down into its full form,,, can’t = can not. Then break this word down again, you have CAN as in you can do something, followed by NOT as in your not going to do something. Be positive, been flat footed might not sound ideal for training for better footwork but it can be mastered if you put your mind and body into it and stay positive.


curtis carpenter October 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

did you hear emanual steward has died? From all the fighters he trained what do you think was the most important lesson we could all learn from him?


Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Technically, theoretically, we could all learn many things from him. But I have no idea what exactly because I’ve never trained with him.


JH October 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Thanks for another great article Johnny, once again you seem to have nailed right where I’m at!

After two years I’m starting to fade just how you said; I’m getting beat up in sparring againt guys I used to smash, all the little injuries jurt that much more and where I used to fast and explosive I’m now slow and unfocussed. I’m 22 and I got beaten up by an underweight 17 yr old in sparring last week. My trainer said it looked like after the first punch I didn’t even want to be there, and I guess I didn’t. Every session is torture because I know I’m capable of more than I’m producing these days.

Hopefully a break from the grind will help me grow past this phase!


gerardo October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

I thought I was the only one who felt like this, nice to see am not alone lol


Keith October 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I purchased your video back in August when keen on boxing but something happened at the start of the boxing season that affected my confidence – I had a difficult sparring session with a newer member of the gym. I missed a few sessions after that and it became ever increasingly difficult to get back into the gym. I reached a stage where I had to admit that I was going to quit but eventually found the motivation to have one more try. I’m glad that I did, because I have found that my boxing has now improved because during the dark days that I felt like quitting I dug deep and analysed deeply why my sparring was below par. When I came back my sparring improved and my motivation is high again.
Something may/will happen in the future that will affect my motivation again but I know I will bounce back again.
Reading your article certainly resonates with my experiences and I’m glad I’m not the only one here with this experience.
Keep up the good work with the website


Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I’m happy for you Keith. Every time you overcome a dark time, you emerge that much stronger.


Lighting October 31, 2012 at 6:25 am

Hi, Keith ! I’m very very sorry for being tough in that sparring session. Don’t know what the hell was wrong with me. Glad to hear that you find your motivation! Keep up your training sessions! I QUIT…


Nick O'Doyle November 5, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Hey Johnny,

I’ve only been training for around 3 months and I’ve hit that stage. Your story is almost a mirror of mine (except that I am 31). I come from a martial arts background and had the mindset that I would excell faster than the others due to it. We only have a few members at our club (Owasso Boxing Club), but the “senior” member (age 15 and boxing since 11) is ranked fourth in the nation (I’d have to look at the papers again for more details). I see how he and some of the others move and spar (well) after having skipped days or weeks and I am an “all-or-nothing” sort. So, foolishly, I assume that my dedicated pace will put me ahead of the race. My first sparring session was a mess (2 rounds with two different guys; 1 for 1 round, the other for the 2nd). My rotator muscles in my left shoulder don’t feel like they can handle the impact of throwing hooks and body shots, left inner shin splints, and now been frequently sick despite mainly healthy diet and working out 5-6 days a week for 2 hours each. I’ve gotten sick of approching the coach like a dog with tail between legs about these injuries/excuses so I told him that I needed to take a break till January; I’m still paying off college so holidays drain the account as well. Could I have worked it out still…yes.
He isn’t there that often and he doesn’t approve of sparring without him there. He is the only trainer there; he owns the place. Great guy, but very busy outside of the gym, with family, school, and being an RN. So, pretty much from the start of my training, I’ve been getting input and info any other way I can to grow and progress and yours was the first source. I really appreciate your willingness to stay out of the clouds and share ALL of your experiences with us, not just your triumphs.

In closing, Johhny…you’re the shit man!
A million humble thanks (and I will MOST DEFINATELY be back to the Club in January)


Johnny N November 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I’m happy for you, Nick. Thank you for sharing your story.


curtis c November 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm

As I like to say the greatest sucsess come through the greatest failures. The greater the obstecal the greater the accomplishment when we break through it.


RafaeL November 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thank you very much for this article it really helped me as a amateur boxer.


AMARNATH November 19, 2012 at 4:56 am

Hey Jhonny,

First i would like to thank you for your article’s , they are really very helpful to me.
I have been training from 8 months in boxing. Just few weeks back i was badly injured in sparring(my teeths became disorder due to my opponent punches). I lost confidence in myself and felt as if i didnt learned any thing. After reading this article , feels like i need to be back to my gym Asap to work on my cons…


Daniel December 5, 2012 at 10:13 am

Man this is exactly what i am goin through, but i am still in the part where i lost couple of spar and lost my condident.. what should i do now Jonny Plz help


Johnny N December 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

Take a break and then come back with more determination.


Montesaa December 7, 2012 at 5:55 am

Had my first spar in my new gym yesterday. They fed me to a 13 year old state champ heavyweight. I’m 20. The kid easily had 30 pounds on me and they put me in with him because none of his peers can stand up to the punishment he can dish out. For the first half of the round I was up, controlling the pace and distance and throwing spam combos to drown him with my speed. Somewhere into the third minute I lost my stamina and he backed me against the ropes and let me have it. The trainers had to stop the fight twice to protect me. I was screwed the minute I started to fight his fight.

I abandoned everything about form and defense I had learned in the last 3 months. I was arm punching while against the ropes and my gaurd was low. I didnt throw any tactical combos, just silly slap combos to the head and body to keep him from thowing back. Today, my neck is so stiff that I can barely do anything but sit. I was so wobbly on the drive home that I almost crashed my jeep.

My ego is bruised. Im shocked that I lost to a 13 year old, State champion or not. He did have 30 pounds on me. But up until now I would have told you I was a solid fighter. I could not have been more wrong.

Im not sure if training today is a good idea, I don’t want to further agitate my neck. But I know where my problems are and I’m eager to get back in the gym and fix them. I need to improve my endurance, shorten my punches and most definitely work on defense. I just hope the coaches dont think anything less of me after losing.


Johnny N December 7, 2012 at 9:54 am

You should take a break. 13 year old or not, you got beat up by a trained killer. If anything, you were the helpless baby in this situation. Most trainers would not call you a solid fighter going into your first sparring bout. Keep training and that day will be nothing more than a small insignificant blip in your boxing career.


Montesaa December 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

They want me to spar with him on a regular basis because the coach says he can’t “open up” against his peers. Im not sure how I feel about this. I used to be heavy and cut to fight at 165 to avoid having to fight stronger opponents. I’m pretty big for a middleweight but not as a light heavyweight and most definitely not as a heavyweight. I also don’t like the idea of being food for some 13 year old, I’m not a practice dummy and I’m hoping to start my own amateur career down the line. While I’m not against sparring him maybe once a week, I would like to make it clear to them that I want to fight people in my own weight class. I don’t think I can learn much from constantly fighting someone way above my weight class other than heavyweight can freaking hit.


Johnny N December 7, 2012 at 10:17 am

Yeaup! You’re a developing fighter. Not shark food.


Montesaa January 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Took a little time off for the holidays and got back in the gym two weeks ago. Had my first sparring session since the bout with that 13 year old. Was nervous because I was sparring experienced fighters at the gym but did very well once I was able to over come my nerves. They said my footwork was bad and I aggressively clinched twice when I was fighting the smaller and slicker of the two fighters and lost sight of him, but I feel very well about how I performed. Was even able to cut off the ring and do some real damage on the ropes with left uppercuts to the body followed by an overhand left to the head (I am a southpaw)

David December 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

Has any boxers gone blind , i have some eye problems but i love boxing though , can continuous hit to the eye cause blindness ???



Johnny N December 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I think it’s possible. Although it’s unlikely because of the size of the fist and the size of your eye socket. A punch would be far more likely to hit the bone on the top of your socket than to hit your eye. But yes, I imagine you could go blind if a punch were to strike the eye directly.


andy b December 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

thanks for ur artical 🙂


TKO December 18, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Nice Article Man. Ive read everyone you have written. I’m starting to get bored with boxing now. I love love love boxing but im in that stage where i train everyday i mean everyday. Still feels like im going no where. Cant make it to the gym but like once a week. Dont know what to do. ?


Johnny N December 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm

If you don’t like what you’re doing, then change it up.


Pinky December 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thank you for your very helpful, insightful and inspiring 5-part series. I’m not a boxer but the things you shared ring true for just about any aspect or endeavor in life, and just what I needed to read at this particular moment. More power to you!


Karthik February 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hey Johnny

Thank you…This has been an informative read. I’m not into boxing but I can definitely use the advice for what I do.


Johnny N February 26, 2013 at 10:19 am

What do you do, Karthik? And how did you find my site may I ask?


Karthik February 26, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I am a freelance artist. I came upon your website when I was looking for….actually I forgot what I was looking for. 🙂
But I guess it had something to do with abandoning negativity and fear when it comes to creating.
I believe that nothing happens by chance. And your website was the first result I opened. And I read through all 5 parts of your post. It helped me very much. Thank you.

What is that line? “When you come up against a wall, punch right through it”


Johnny N February 28, 2013 at 1:12 am

Well I wish you the best of luck. If you have a link to your site, share it here. 😉


karthik February 28, 2013 at 1:52 am

Its a link to my online portfolio…which I have not updated in a long time.
Thank you 🙂


Johnny N March 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Nice work, man. Thanks for sharing!


Anil March 23, 2013 at 6:13 am

A very good article – just stumbled on it and it was good that I did.

I am not a boxer, and this article is not about boxing. It is about Life

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and life learnings.


susang bantawa April 30, 2013 at 6:35 am

wow, this is exactly what happened to me too, from excitement, realization, fatigue then quitting, i was making a lot of excuses to myself too college, friends, no time, too much things to do but in my mind i never believed that i stop boxing, (havn’t gone to gym for 7 months) now i red this i m going to start fresh but the biggest problem for me is MOTIVATION (laziness), how do you get motivated everyday?


Johnny N May 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

You don’t need motivation when you’re doing something you love. If you don’t love it that much yet, then you need to find a way to make boxing fun. Stop beating yourself up with impossible expectations. Have fun, find new ways to enjoy it….and then when your motivation is high, you can start taking on challenges.


Boxer Guy August 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

This article really gives the perspective of a fighter. People think fighters don’t think of quitting or giving up. This is a tough mental sport for sure!


Kate August 22, 2013 at 3:07 am

This is the best thing I’ve read about boxing! I went through the exact same thing, except I’m still at the part where I stopped training for awhile and am about to start again when term starts. I’m a girl and I think I’m about the shortest boxer around which leads to a great bashing (more to the ego than anything) during sparring. I train hard and I do very well during practice sessions so it’s reallyyy frustrating when I’m not doing what I thought I knew I was able to do! I think I’ve given up a million times but I love it too much to give up for good!


Johnny N August 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

That’s what I love about boxing. It’s never easy!


Ernest November 14, 2013 at 12:57 am

expertboxing how to get rid of ego any tips?


Johnny N November 22, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Get beat up by somebody far more skilled than you. That should do it.


Tim Carty December 22, 2013 at 5:52 am

Great article Johnny touched on a lot of good parts. I felt the same way about boxing. I would box and get beat like a drum and always question whether I should keep doing it. I think that’s a big reason why most boxers are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, because in order to really get good you have to be able to come back after getting an ass whooping. Unfortunately the biggest problem with kids dropping out of boxing these days is they expect too much too soon. Kids think they are gonna’ be the next Tyson but get scarred when they realize they are gonna have to get their ass kicked for a while in order to get better.


La'Sonne Amos January 13, 2014 at 12:52 am

That’s a real good article for just about anything.When I first ran into this article I thought you were talking to me directly because I have been there exactly more than one time.It take failure to appreciate your success.I sometimes myself have to remember to remain resilient because it’s so easy to get caught up in negativity and give up.Setbacks are setups for comebacks.It’s funny how you talked about how you gave up on the gym and skipped days.I did that a lot when I fought amateur because of being one of the older fighters I found excuse after another.Good advice from you and the others also.


Vlad February 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Thank you so much Johnny, I have read the entire series on how to become great and it has changed me. I used to be so lazy that I would wake up late for school almost every day and skip training days, but then I read this and started getting up every morning at 6:30 and giving it %110 at the gym because you have helped me realize that If I believe in my self I will succeed. Thank you Johnny, keep up the amazing work.


Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I’m happy for you, Vlad! Keep pushing it and see how far you can go. Fortune favors the bold.


Leilani May 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Thank you for this awesome article, it hit home for me; I have been training for 2 years now and although during that time I learned a ton of important things, no one ever taught me how to handle failure..well last month I had my first public fight and I lost, in front of hundreds of people. I really felt like crap. Still do, whenever I think back on it. Since then I have become a bit discouraged with my training, wondering if my mum wasn’t right when she said a girl has no business boxing, ha..sometimes when I’m in the middle of a training session, and I’m tired and I feel like I’m being sloppy, I just want to take off my gloves and never touch them again. Not because I’m afraid of fighting, but because I’m afraid that I’m a crappy fighter, and that I will never change. The crazy thing is, I love boxing; I’m a volunteer missionary and odd as it may sound, boxing helps me deal with my strange, stressful lifestyle, it is something that up until now I have enjoyed and craved doing. So feeling that I was losing hope as a boxer has been something very painful, especially thinking I was a odd case and that if I really had what it takes I couldn’t possibly feel this way. But this article has been truly inspirational, I want to say thank you over and over, because my mind is blown and I can feel all that hope and inspiration coming back to me.


Johnny N July 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

So happy for you, Leilani. No matter what it is…keep fighting. Sometimes you get the feeling that it isn’t worth it and it feels like the whole world is telling you not to do something but honestly, you gotta tune that stuff down and make a promise to yourself that you’re just going to do what you LIKE to do.


kritika June 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

Thank you for such an inspiring article. I have quit my work (pursuing PhD in biotechnology) mentally 100 times My boss is always criticizing me for the mistakes I have done. His tone is worst!! He always make me feel that am good for nothing. I sometimes feel I am the worst person in this field. I dont understand why the hell am trying so hard?Lost all the enthusiasm …just dragging it. But somehow reading ur articles uplifted me. So am very thankful and grateful for sharing your feelings with us and helping people like me, who lost their passion just because of the people around them. Thank you!


dally August 3, 2014 at 6:07 am

First of all, thanks for the raw honesty you have brought to boxers alike, as we share the same ring,fears and struggles mentally and physically. I’ve experienced moments just like this, over training and becoming lost in the commitment of training, feeling like I have to be there to improve. when simple fact is you have to want to be there, Without the “want” we lack the inspiration creativity to improve, we can’t become lost in ruitien and step through those ropes without the inspiration and creativity to progress, without this we are shark food for the hungry.


dally August 3, 2014 at 6:32 am

I’m training for a fight this year and have been put through my passes at the gym by some pretty skilled near pro fighters, four sparring sessions in a row now I’ve been served, and there is one thing in common in my mindset before each one of these heavy sparring sessions, I’m here because my fight ruitien says I have to be! And I’m stubborn as hell, I’d rather brake a rib than sit one out, well I’m taking this heavy session off, going to work hard on some other areas I need and want to improve on, partake in the milder sparring sessions during the week and create develop the “want” to challenge myself in these harder sparring sessions, instead of standing there frozen and outclassed, no passion or drive, just driven by squedule and the stubbornness to put my body through traumatic situations.


Ever Warrior September 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm

nice article


Desiree September 9, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I’m still pretty new at boxing, only been at it for three months. I’ve only “quit” once so far. As a female boxer at a small, dirty, hole-in-the-wall gym, I don’t have many other women to spar against. At the time I just had two – one was better than me, one was about the same. One day I went in there in a crappy state of mind. I felt weak and insecure before I even started. I felt like the old me – the one who never succeeds and always quits at whatever she is working at just as things are about to get good. I wasn’t in the ring for two seconds before I took a hard, knock-me-to-my-knees punch straight to the head. I crawled out immediately, pathetically defeated. A joke. The hit had validated how much I just suck at everything I try to do. Poor fucking me, right? I heard Coach tell the other two girls, just loud enough for me to hear in the other room, “Now she has to decide if she’s the kind of fighter who keeps going or not.”

I left. Angry… mostly at myself. I went home and told my husband I was done. I think I even posted on one of your blogs that night, bitching about how my coach seemed like he just wanted me to compete and how I wasn’t ready.

The thing is that I’ve had a lot of shit this past year – like, a crazy amount of it. Watched my one year old struggle for his life with pneumonia in a hospital, nearly lost a new pregnancy multiple times, dealt with three suicide attempts of my only sibling, developed some extraordinarily rare autoimmune disease than none of my doctors had even heard of, almost died due to medical negligence during a “routine” hospital procedure 6 weeks after delivering my daughter, and forever lost my ability to every have more children. That’s just the cliff notes.

So, what made me get back in the ring? I got angry. REALLY angry. At everything. At life. At myself. I wasn’t a victim, damn it. I’m not weak, damn it. I’m done being the “old me”, DAMN IT.

Back in the ring I went. A new opponent entered the scene – younger, faster, stronger, and better trained. But mentally I was ready for her. Instead of cowering, I stood my ground, absorbed my fears and fought the best I ever have. Talk about a high!

I have no doubts that I’m going to hit that low point again… that point where I question my resolve and my worth and my abilities. But I’m already far stronger mentally (and physically) than I have ever been in my life. And I love it. I’ve finally found something I’m good at, and as long as I don’t let my worst opponent (me) take me down, I plan to go all the way with it.

Cheers. And thanks for your blogs.


Johnny N November 25, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Wow, Desiree. What a story. You’re an inspiration to many. Keep fighting the good fight, in AND out, of the ring.


Robert April 27, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Man you really helped me with this article. Im a beginner, i started boxing 2 years ago couple of months when sparring started i quit. I got depressed turned to alcohol and drugs and went on a downward spiral. Now ive been training again for a couple of months and today my trainer asked me if i wanted to fight in two weeks i said yes and got really exited at first started shadowboxing then mit work and then sparring. Man i got punched hard haha i sparred with three guys only the first was about the same weight as me the others were a lot heavier and man the punches hurt haha i was so afraid of getting hit i got so discouraged came home ran a little on the treadmill then i started to doubt myself all my high hopes and expectations where crushed and i went mad for a like an hour until i came here for some advice and this article really helped me man thank you very much i can relate to your experience so thank you again i will do my best any advice for my first fight? its in a couple of weeks. Again thanks man God bless you.


Aanaco August 3, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Thank you so much for this article!!! Your insight is so truly correct, uplifting and inspiring!!!!


Aanaco August 3, 2015 at 6:44 pm

I will apply this insight to my passion for my studies!


Gordon October 27, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Just came across your articles while looking for ways to improve my mindset for pushing myself further in my exercise routine. I recognised that I could do more but I wasn’t pushing myself and I had to find a way to get my head in gear.

Your articles are excellent, good and honest advice without ego! Thanks for taking the time and effort to write this stuff out! Its a great assistance in so many areas of life not just boxing.


Ann May 5, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Been reading your articles at least once a day. Thanks Johnny, especially for this! I’m a start-up female boxer here in the Philippines and I’m really finding it hard to find someone to spar with. Also Amateur bouts are not very common. My coach wants me to train for Pro right away since it’s really difficult to look for amateur fights here in the city. I’m working towards that since I also have a day job.Anyway, happy to have found this site, I’ve been following lots of your advices and it’s really helping me improve every single day. I agree to everything you said. I hope many more aspiring boxers can check your website and find inspiration in every article. 🙂


Johnny N May 6, 2016 at 8:46 am

Thank you, Ann! And good luck to you out there!


Johnny N May 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Happy for you, Ann. Keep training and post up your wins!


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