Boxing club keeps the focus on the work, not the past

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Washington DC – In the sport that helped launch a superstar known around the world for both his boxing and the social stands he fought for there are few people left who are drawn to the ring because of Muhammad Ali.

We visited the Downtown Boxing Club DC Sunday to get reaction to Ali’s death.

Most people in training are doing it for the good of their health. ESPN ranked boxing as the toughest sport to participate in based on skill, strength, agility and several other factors. ESPN called it a tougher sport than hockey and football which came in second and third on the list.

One young woman told me she’s more inspired by Ali’s daughter Laila, who retired from the sport that made her father world famous as an undefeated fighter.

Most of the 20 or so people who worked out for an hour to an hour and a half were focused on the interval training that comes with practice.

They’re paired up and work from station to station– juking, punching and boxing with a variety of bags until an electronic bell rings.

It gives their body the feel of being in a ring for competition. Three minutes of sweat and quickening heartbeats, a minute or so to rest as if they were between rounds of a bout before starting again.

Most don’t waste the time talking and save their air for the next round.

The most vocal person in the gym is an aged, former Texas Golden Gloves champion who wears heavy pads on his torso and hands as he brings each boxer into the ring for a round.

Sometimes Dave White grumbles as he encourages boxers to keep up the pace, other times he shouts at them to put more power behind each shot or keep their eyes on the target.

White seems to work the same way with both amateurs and budding professionals. He expects boxers to commit to some rules like not lifting weights (weight work can tighten muscles that could tear during training) and always investing in good equipment.

It takes a lot of endurance to make it through 60 or 90 minutes with White.  Most power through the punching exercises, the jump rope rounds and the mat work just to wheeze out a thank you before leaving the gym.

White admitted this Sunday he saw a larger than expected group come to the gym. Maybe that has something to do with the death of Ali and maybe it does not.

White will focus on what he can control—things like good footwork and keeping an eye on a boxers’ hands when they’re not punching—and look forward to those returning to his gym or visiting for the first time to see if they can do what came so easy to people like Ali.