T Nation

Kevin Rooney, Tyson's Former Coach On Training

Interesting read. This comment made me think quite a bit: “Nothing can prepare you like sparring can, pushing weights and all that bulls*** has about as much to do with boxing as cheesecake.”

“If you want to be the best you can, then you have to spar every f***ing day. None of this one day on and one day off crap. It’s gotta be an all-our war EVERYDAY. To be a great fighter, you have to spar. You gotta spar every day, day in day out, week after week, 52 weeks a year. If you wanna be sharp in the ring and stay sharp at your boxing - you gotta spar. You gotta go spar til just a couple of days before the fight, man. Nothing can prepare you like sparring can, pushing weights and all that bulls*** has about as much to do with boxing as cheesecake. If your fighter gets a little cut over an eye or a bloody nose and wants the sparring session to end, you gotta say ‘f*** that s***, you fight on, if you get a bloody nose on fight night then do you want me to stop that too?’, what that does is teach ‘em to move their head more! The average person does not know what it takes to become a great fighter, it takes discipline and repetition. It takes mental patience and gives mental pressure, but it’s how you handle that - do you say ‘Ah f*** it’ and have a few beers instead like I did when I was fighting? Or do you dig deep for determination to stay dedicated like Mike Tyson did before he left the Catskills? You see, boxing is 80% mental and 20% physical. Anyone can get in shape, but it’s what you have up there that really counts. All of Cus’ fighters over-achieved with the exception of Mike, Mike was the one guy who had all the physical gifts. All the other fighters who came to Cus were those who had no physical gifts, or the ones Cus would pick out would be those who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag… and he’d transform them over years and years of hard work and repetition. He’d turn very raw material into Golden Gloves winners, from guys who couldn’t skip at all into finesse fighters. He was like a magician or something. He would sort out the mental aspect and give them the right advise and they’d be competitive over time. But this was a guy who thought more about principles than anything else, he genuinely cared about his fighters an awful lot. Cus couldn’t give a rats ass about money! Money meant nothing to him, he wouldn’t sacrifice his fighters health for money. He would never put his fighter in unless he knew his fighter could win, not ever, no matter who it was and even he was a real good fighter, he would never put his fighter in unless he knew that his fighter could win. He never advised pro boxing as a living, it was down to the fighter what he wanted to do. If he wanted Cus’ help, Cus would give it. He wouldn’t give it unless it was wanted.”

“Look, man. As Cus always used to say ‘If you gotta pair of fists and a beating heart then you gotta chance to beat anybody. If you have self-belief and the three D’s (dedication, determination, discipline) on top of that then your more than likely to become the champ!’. The only guys who stuck it out though and stayed on the right path with the three D’s were the Jose Torres’ of this world and people like that, you know. It’s true ya know that we are all human, none of us are made exceptional to the rest. You know, it’s all in the head, boxing is like 80% mental. Yeah, I mean, every fighter has fear and doubts, but Cus always said that ‘fear feeds the fuel’. And once you learn to control the fear, then the fear becomes your friend and will help you. If you let the fear take over, you freeze up and you’re gonna have a problem. If you have self-confidence though, you have some real advantage there and need to make the most of it in the right way - you have a real advantage because why do most people start boxing? It’s because they lack self-confidence! So if you have that aspect, you got advantages there. OK you go find someone who believes in themselves, trains their ass off every day and knows the right tactics. Now if you can find that person, I guarantee that he is a world champion - no s***! Cus never knew anybody in all his years who had the three D’s, self-belief or ability to control fear, and the right tactics who wasn’t a world champion. If a fighter came to Cus and started moaning that they weren’t getting anywhere, Cus would always find faults in the mental aspect. There are so few that have the three D’s, self-belief and right tactics, they are very, very rare. Those that do have that though, are the champs. If you have fear you need to learn how to control it, and if you can control fear then your halfway there already. It’s no good training your ass off every day and thinking your gonna kick everyone’s ass though if you don’t know what your doing, if you don’t know the right tactics… but to be honest with you it is very simple to know what to do. You’d be suprised just how many people don’t stick to simple things, and then moan that they aint getting nowhere. The s*** is as follows: ‘don’t drop your guard… dont ever neglect your jab… move your damn head… hit the body and the head will fall… don’t throw singles, use combinations…’, those are the right tactics, doesn’t sound much does it? But you’d be suprised just how very, very few keep to all of those tactics. If you keep to those tactics and you got the three D’s, and you know how to control your fear, your gonna be the champ!! I swear! I won’t say ‘it’s that easy’ because it’s easier said than done actually keeping to all that, keeping to that is not actually easy you know… you gotta work for it, you gotta work like fuck!”

I would agree that in boxing, strength is less important than in MMA. No doubt.

But it’s important to remember that they are different sports.

I also think that strength is way overemphasized by people on this site.

I also know I quit lifting while training more technique, and my technique suffered. Because, while you want good technique, strength within technique is the best technique.

It’s all about finding a balance, man. And it’s very individualized.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
I would agree that in boxing, strength is less important than in MMA. No doubt.

But it’s important to remember that they are different sports.

I also think that strength is way overemphasized by people on this site.

I also know I quit lifting while training more technique, and my technique suffered. Because, while you want good technique, strength within technique is the best technique.

It’s all about finding a balance, man. And it’s very individualized. [/quote]

Amen.

And to the OP- thanks for posting that. I dug it.

He was such a good trainer-

Tysons head movement has always looked like shit since leaving Rooney.
(not to mention everything else)

kmc

Same philosophy followed by Straight blast gym.

padwork is great for conditioning and working on a few timing/distance aspects but primarily your skill set comes from live sparring. There are things developed there that cannot be developed through padwork and what not.

Imo you don’t need to spar brutally hard, hell you’ll just be banged up and run out of sparring partners eventually. I like the Thai philosophy of bangin hard one time a week (their fight usually) and light sparring the rest of the time.

the reason for is timing… relatively slow motions so you eventually learn to attack AND defend while slowly raising the pace.

That way you take athletic attributes out of it. For example I’m fast as hell and I know I can make up for improper technique a lot of time by just overwhelming my partner.

That said eventually I’ll fight someone faster and if I can’t fall back on proper technique then I have nothing.

So technique first.

Also sparring should involve using different strategies… and these are all vastly different in the different sports

thai boxing

boxing

mma

They all vary just as much as the skill sets vary.

This is very true, the more you practice your event your going to get better at it. Spending all your time in the weight room will make you better at lifting, but its not going to make you a better fighter. The brain works really well the more you do something over and over; then fighting becomes instinctive.

I do think you should practice your style of fighting daily, maybe not to the fullest but you should get the reps in to allow it to remain instinctive. Even if not at the gym, you should do your shadow boxing, visualizing yourself in a fight ext.

This is really true with anything, the more your practice one thing the better your going to become at it.

[quote]Xen Nova wrote:
Same philosophy followed by Straight blast gym.

padwork is great for conditioning and working on a few timing/distance aspects but primarily your skill set comes from live sparring. There are things developed there that cannot be developed through padwork and what not.

If your fighter gets a little cut over an eye or a bloody nose and wants the sparring session to end, you gotta say ‘f*** that s***, you fight on, if you get a bloody nose on fight night then do you want me to stop that too?’, what that does is teach 'em to move their head more!

Imo you don’t need to spar brutally hard, hell you’ll just be banged up and run out of sparring partners eventually. I like the Thai philosophy of bangin hard one time a week (their fight usually) and light sparring the rest of the time.

the reason for is timing… relatively slow motions so you eventually learn to attack AND defend while slowly raising the pace.

That way you take athletic attributes out of it. For example I’m fast as hell and I know I can make up for improper technique a lot of time by just overwhelming my partner.

That said eventually I’ll fight someone faster and if I can’t fall back on proper technique then I have nothing.

So technique first.

Also sparring should involve using different strategies… and these are all vastly different in the different sports

thai boxing

boxing

mma

They all vary just as much as the skill sets vary.[/quote]

Muay Thai you probably could not spar hard all the time because of the blunt force trauma to your legs and arms etc.

Boxers though are different. They have the whole gym wars thing going on. Like bragging rights.

Great article. Kevin Rooney is a good coach and Cus D was one of the greatest ever.

[quote]otoko wrote:

Muay Thai you probably could not spar hard all the time because of the blunt force trauma to your legs and arms etc.

Boxers though are different. They have the whole gym wars thing going on. Like bragging rights.[/quote]

You could spar every day in Muay Thai, no problem, just gotta be padded well on the shins. Thighs if you’re going all out but getting kicked too often in the thighs is a good indication that you’re not checking and hence why I believe in the bare essentials of padding.

I’m with the CUS philosophy about head gear. You become a sitting target and don’t move your head because you think it’s all protected. You take punches you don’t need to take and come fight time you think you can take the same punches (subconciously) and don’t move your head as well.