Boxing is one of the sports that scares and intrigues in the same measure. The choreography and the strength in the punches hold you captive although you want to avert your eye from the repeated hits to the head. (Why do they always go for the head?).

Remmy Semwaka, a former boxing champion turned fitness trainer, says these elements that both captivate and scare us are the ones that make boxing a great exercise. “Boxing gives you a total mind, body and soul workout. It does not only boost strength but it also improves balance, coordination, reactivity, and agility,” Semwaka says.

Brain stimulation
He recommends the sport for people who work in mentally demanding professions such as doctors or financial analysts because it stimulates the brain. He says the sport is also good for people who have trouble making decisions because the mental strength gained from boxing will translate into other parts of your life.

Abbey Ssozi, a trainer and manager at Acorns gym in Ntinda, highly recommends boxing because it works out the whole body. “Boxing engages the back, stomach (where most muscles are centered), shoulders, and legs.

Most exercises focus on the lower body, so boxing makes a great cross-training option since it also targets your upper half,” Sozzi explains.

Burns calories fast
Because of the level of its intensity, boxing burns calories fast. “Boxing requires more energy than most exercises which makes the body burn about 200 calories for 30 minutes of punching and 300 calories for 30 minutes of sparring with a partner,” Sozzi adds.

Semwaka also credits the exercise for relieving stress, calming the brain thus giving the individual a clearer outlook on life. “This is an exercise that forces you to forget everything else and pay attention to what you are doing in that moment. For the duration of the exercise, all worries and thoughts are suspended, leaving the mind free. The exhilaration from this exercise releases adrenaline and endorphins that leave one feeling lighter and happier,” Semwaka notes.

The most important benefit of boxing however is equipping an individual to defend themselves. Although it takes more than punching a bag to be able to learn how to defend oneself effectively, consistency and proper training will get you there.

“It will take several months of focused training such as learning proper timing, foot movement, and power for one to get to a level where they can defend themselves against a random adversary,” Semwaka states.

Semwaka, who has been boxing since he was a teenager, says in addition to teaching him mental and physical endurance, the sport improved his coordination and built his self-esteem.

“Boxing simulates life, thus you learn how to intentionally place your self before potential physical pain. It teaches you how to face pain, how to fight back and how to make the best decisions,” he adds.

Punching right
Boxing is best taught by professionals because mistakes can be fatal. Semwaka urges anyone intending to take up the exercise to look for a trained professional and follow instructions to the letter. The trainer says to produce a powerful punch, the individual has to put all their weight in it. “The legs, hips, abs, back, shoulders, and arms have to work together in one smooth motion,” he explains.

What you need
Boxing Gloves : This is the most essential thing you can have for boxing class. Make it a point to get training gloves instead of bag gloves. Training gloves are great for punching the bag and live sparring.
Hand wraps: These keep your wrists from spraining, or worse, breaking.
The mouth guard: The mouth guard will help deflect the blows keeping your mouth and teeth safe.