No Cornerman in the Ring

Those who know me, know me as a betting man. I take risks with business, in sparring, even with the path I choose to walk. And especially when it comes to sports, I will bet someone in a minute. Not that I always win when betting, but I am a strategist, and I appreciate the act of carrying out a fight. Whether that fight is on the football field or the boxing ring, I study what is being done and what could be done to win. I’ve done this so much that my friends often ask me to analyze upcoming fights and fights that we’ve just seen.

So occasionally someone will ask me, “What would you tell him if you were in his corner?” And my answer is always the same…

If you are a true fighter and a trainer of fighters, your answer will be like mine. Want a test?  Take Mike Tyson versus Lennox Lewis. How would you answer the question? (scroll down after you answer, I’ll wait!)










See, if you has prepared him correctly, the guesswork and training for the correct strategy would have been done weeks before the fight. If Iron Mike had been trained correctly, his corner would have been a lot like Bernard Hopkins’ or Floyd Mayweather’s corner. Have you ever listened to Bouie Fisher, Roger Mayweather or Freddie Roach during a fight? They are very calm, have little to say other than, “How you feeling, Champ?” (Fisher) or “Okay, whip his ass.” (Mayweather) or “Now it’s time for plan B… turn the lights out on this guy.” (Roach). Really profound lessons, these guys are imparting huh?

Not really. See, these trainers understand that the only reason they need to be there is for moral support and because the Boxing Commission says that they should be. A responsible teacher teaches his fighter to analyze and think for himself. And just in case he needs a little help, the trainer chooses the best two or three tactics to use against the fighter he is to soon face. And for the weeks leading up to the fight, they focus on those things needed to defeat the opponent. And they hone it to such a high degree that none of us–with all our skill and knowledge in the martial arts–could step in the ring with that same opponent and duplicate what we see every month on Pay Per View. The result over a career of fighting different opponents and fighting styles, that by the time you have put in a good 8-10 years of fighting, you’ve seen it all and no longer need the famous “drawing board”.

This is why I advocate learning from former fighters, if you want to excel in the art of pugilism. It’s not one of those things easily dismissed by the “anybody-can-teach-art-you-don’t-have-to-be-a-fighter-to-teach” crowd. Yes, you can learn to box by anyone. It’s true that not every great boxing trainer was a great fighter. I didn’t say you had to be a great fighter, just be experienced. Now, how many of you “I’m-not-a-fighter-but-I’m-a-good-teacher” pukes are experienced stickfighter the way Emmanuel Steward was an experienced boxer before becoming a trainer?

You know, the not-a-fighter-but-a-teacher people love to throw Emmanuel Steward’s name out there, because he was never a professional fighter. But what they don’t realize is that as an amateur he fought 97 bouts, winning all but three of them.

How many fights did you have?

See, fighting is not something you can just think up on your own and in order to properly prepare a fighter to be able to think for himself, you must have been in his shoes many, many times. We want our fighters to understand fighting so thoroughly and be trained so well, that we do not need to accompany them into the ring. Honestly, there is nothing you can tell a fighter to do that will save his butt if he is not properly prepared. The only thing you should be doing at that point is to ask your fighter how he’s doing, to “whip his ass”, and to say, “okay it’s time for plan B…”

In other words, your fighter really shouldn’t need a cornerman. If he does, he’s in trouble.

As my Si Hing (older brother) Terrance Robinson use to say, “You can’t take your corner with you into the streets”. Terry use to train his full contact fighters to think like streetfighters and he never had to carry a fighter out of a ring.

In part II, I will talk to you about the exceptions to the rule. This is for those of you who want to train fighters, yet you’ve never been a fighter yourself. (I’m not counting 8th grade streetfights, people…)

Thanks for visiting my blog. If you like this article, please check out my book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months, available on the “Offerings” page.

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

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