T Nation

Time boxing Champions Trained


Those motherfuckers were tough! :wink:)

Lets start will James Jackson Jeffries.He became World Heavyweight Champion in 1899.
This a video of him training.


A bit of info about his training.Not sure its legit.



thanks for sharing, interesting stuff!


From everything I've read about Jeffries he sounds like a one-in-a-billion freak of nature. With modern training/nutrition he could probably be a world-class athlete in a variety of sports.

I wish we had more/better footage available of his earlier fights and training. A lot of people seem to just remember him for losing to Jack Johnson.


Awesome training. To be a champion you need to train/condition yourself like a champion. The old-timers knew this, a lot of modern day fighters are lazy in comparison. That 14mile run with 100meter sprints without stopping to walk sounds like some kind of HELLISH workout.

But it's a laughable idea to think he's a freak of nature or 1 in anything. hunter-gatherer's and tribals are almost universally capable of physical feats that surpass even our greatest athletes. feats of endurance, speed, and conditioning that seem beyond human to us. The human body evolved to do these amazing things, that most of us have lost the ability to do, living in civilization from birth. So when some people "re-gain" the ability to do what they were born to be able to do, they are called a "freak of nature"

most healthy people who trained that hard would end up comparable. Most people just won't train that hard/long day after day unless they are forced. they don't have the will-power or psychological intensity.


Oh,yeah?! There are many hunter-gatherers and tribal men in subsahar Africa and Latin America,so where the fuck are those tribal people capable of suprassing our greatest athletes that seem beyond human???? I imagine,they would somehow appear on antropologists videos on Youtube by now.


Yeah,its fascinating what those people did over 100 years ago! :))

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUjVK6Lsj28


Jeffries 1899.

  1. and look at the size of that ring! :)))

  1. and look at the size of that ring! :)))


He was the best, apart from my great-great grandfather, who did 10000 pushups & pullups each day.

Man, the 19th Century was full of awsomeness.
Even with modern training science and PEDs, we still can't touch these heroes.


Baron Minhauzen is your great-great granfather?? wooow!!!! :)))))

Its what you did under limited circumstances with limited resources is what counts.And I think theirs performances were impressive taking that into account.


My point is:
We don't know.

People exaggerate - a lot.
It's a feature of homo sapiens.

Call it make belief, creative reality-shaping, lying, the cultural momentum in a society when the loudest shittalkers get the greatest attention etc

I don't say that there couldn't be great athletes in the nearly forgotten past.
And sometimes it's a blessing for an aspiring athlete to have only limited resources, just like you said.
(Eg Schwarzenegger. Rural childhood with no T-Nation or fancy stuff. Although on closer look one has to wonder if his real talent was his unbreakable liver)

But most legendary feats -let's say over 95%- are fabricated. Not even with bad intentions.


Sure, why not.


I don't want to derail your thread as I am in agreement that old-time fighters were in a class seperate from most modern athletes, that they trained hard, that they were tough as nails, none the less:

You're right, a lot of modern day tribal and hunter-gatherer's exist. You ask me where is the videos of them performing these physical feats. (though the videos themselves aren't always taken by anthropologists but other scientists as well, ethnographers, etc)

tara humara for running: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnwIKZhrdt4

lol, "weird or what" (I know, a ridiculous show) but the info is fairly accurate enough.

I was watching a video the other day (BBC human planet, maybe), of some tribal, spear fishing in the water, he was just walking around on the bottom of the sea floor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgRpwESWPLM

(like the video points out, hold your breath with this guy see how long you can do it, just sitting there watching him)

You can also watch a lot of documentaries or specials on tribals/hunter-gatherers that highlight some of their physical abilities with or without weapons.

It's beyond impressive. The guy in the water, his heart rate goes to 30bmp, he goes 20meters down to the sea floor where the pressure is so intense that it "crushes" his chest, and squeezes the air in his lungs to 1/3rd of it's usual volume. I would venture to say the average man or athlete, would be hard-pressed to DO ANYTHING under those circumstances, let alone hunt, under-water.


A tribe that's genetically geared towards running and in fact, does run a lot*, can excel at it?

(*because it's the only pastime and they had to yield from "evolutionary pressure"/more warlike societies)

Fact remains: the average 21stCentury champion of any sport wipes his ass with the average 19thCentury champs and their lofty claims.


The tribe isn't "genetically" geared towards running. humans are "genetically geared" or "adapted" to run. They may have slight adaptations that other human populations don't have that make them better runners, but the majority of their running skill is natural, possessed by all humans. Most humans just don't run on a daily basis, so have lost the ability to do so. It's not a special ability this tribe possesses, they are just using the biology that all humans are born with.

maybe the avg 21st century athlete would beat the avg 19th century champ, but some fighters from the early 20th century like dempsey would have wiped the floor with most modern day fighters.

Also the "strength" champions of the 19th century, like Arthur Saxon, make a joke out of almost all "champion" lifters of the modern era. I don't see anyone putting up a 400pound bent press, and I probably won't see it in my life-time, either. The old-time strong-men were capable of feats of strength that modern day lifters (outside of all but the most accomplished strong-men) can't.


Of course some guys are genetically superiour to others when it comes to specilized tasks.
Same with groups.
Eg, Turks, on average, make better oly weightlifters. Their leverages make them less stellar swimmers, however.
And the Tarahumara have better running genes then others.
It's silly and pointless to even deabte this. Grow up and deal with it.

Also, most haven't "lost" the ability to run.
We aren't meant to run per se. If we would have, there'd be an extra pair of legs or two.
Sweat glands are a sweet substitute, but that doesn't make us runners.
We excel at walking at all speeds.

In his (nonheavyweight!) weightclass, Dempsey would have probably done fine. That's all we can say.

Arthur Saxon et al.
19th Century was the century of early cheap, mass (live) entertainment and scamming.
Most of the stuff you read is way overexaggerated or outright fabricated.
If we look at the data that's reasonable to believe, like early olympic games, we can see that the average elite athlete from around 1900 was far less impressive then what some dusty memoirs want you to believe.
Hobby athletes today can often beat those numbers!

Of course, feel free to believe in ouijaboard-seances, they were mighty popular back then and there's TONS of literature out there verifying it.


You excel at setting up straw man arguments and then cutting them down. No one ever said that there wasn't genetic differences between individuals and populations that make one or a group of people better suited to X task. This is always going to be true. Like I mentioned, the tara humara might have population level characteristics that make them better runners than X other tribe, however, most of their ability is just what humans are born with. It could be equally the case (though I doubt it) that they possess population level characteristics that make them shittier runners. Allegedly they have only been in this area for 500 years, not enough time for any relevant sweeping change throughout the population. (it could be that this population ended up in this area due to the fact that they already had genetic qualities that made them good runners.)

Their ability is some-thing that all human's are born with.

Secondly, whether a creature has 2 or 4 legs isn't a determining factor in whether or not they have adaptations from head to toe for running. When I say we're "built" for running what I mean is that there are skeletal structures, muscles, ligaments and etc that humans have because our ancestors ran a lot, on a daily basis, because running was a necessary physical requirement for survival.

The ostrich doesn't have 4 legs, but it can out-run many that do. Many four legged creatures can't run all that fast. Humans are an upright two legged animal, none-the-less humans evolved to run, and many of our bodily structures and adaptations have almost no use outside of running. A look through some basic evolutionary biology textbooks should drive that idea home hard enough.

Thirdly, dempsey would smash most fighters in or out of his weight-class. I am not saying he would have went toe to toe with the likes of Tyson, Lewis, Klitschko and etc but he'd make a mockery of most heavy-weights through-out history, including modern day ones.

Hell, he'd probably have even smashed up some of those fighters. It's not like he couldn't have gained 20pounds if he lived in the modern day, hell, he probably wouldn't even have needed it.