I had the pleasure of interviewing Highland Sizer, a Washington DC area boxing trainer. Highland took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his company, the current state of boxing and its future.
Keith: What is it about boxing that peeked your interest?
Highland: What got me interested in boxing was the focus on just the individual. I played some football in high school and even though you learn teamwork being with 10 other people, boxing offers that one on one aspect. You only have yourself to rely on; you’re offense and defense, so it brings out the best in you.
Keith: Name some of the boxers that had the most influence on you growing up?
Highland: I have to say being a native Washingtonian, Sugar Ray Leonard had a tremendous influence on me growing up. I loved his style which had the speed, grace and showmanship that few could match. as far as heavyweights go, I loved Ali, and Evander Holyfield.
Keith: Of today’s breed of boxers, which ones strike you the most?
Highland: I’ve got to say Floyd Mayweather is the most talented out there right now. The way he dominated Juan Marquez in their fight was incredible! He is that “phenom” type fighter that has speed and skill. He’s a nightmare for the opposing trainer because it’s difficult to prepare your guy to deal with him. He always boxes like he’s in control and he really doesn’t worry about what the game plan of his opponents. He fights his fight from beginning to end. I think he has a real shot at retiring undefeated. I also like Paul Williams! Look for that guy to be one of the best.
Keith: Which boxing class is your favorite to watch?
Highland: That Light/Welterweight division is a beast right now. You got Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto. You’d better be ready to box in that weight class.
Keith:Tell me what Thorobredz Boxing is.
Highland: Thorobredz Boxing is the name of my training company that I started about 5 years ago. When I decided I wouldn’t have a career in boxing, I started training fighters for competition. I train people who want to compete as well as any guy or girl who wants the experience of what a boxer goes through to get ready for a fight. The concept of Thorobredz Boxing is that anyone can be a Thorobred. It takes hard work and dedication; there is no magic involved becoming a fighter, just persistence and effort. Thorobredz’s motto is that “Every person has a fighter inside of them”.
Keith: When training, what is your greatest satisfaction and your biggest challenges?
Highland: My biggest satisfaction is when my clients are able to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. In boxing, the drills are very intense, so it takes time to build your stamina and skill level to be able to compete. For example, just hit the heavy bag correctly for two or three mintues. I really get a kick out of seeing someone come in totally out of shape, then becoming a machine after a couple of weeks! I really enjoy helping with that transformation.
My biggest challenge as a trainer is to find that something that motivates the person that I’m working with. Most folks that I work with have never boxed before, so the concepts and training is very different from what their used too. It can be very tough because boxing is a mix of cardio and strength training. Sometimes the gentle approach works, and sometimes you have to scream a little bit to get people pumped up!
Keith: What advice would you give someone who is considering boxing training for what ever reason?
Highland: I would say the most important thing to do, is to find a trainer that you feel comfortable with. Some boxing trainers can be a little rough on you, so keep that in mind especially if you’re going to an old school boxing gym, where pros train. Decide also if you want to do it for just exercise, or you want to get in the ring and spar. Some trainers don’t have competitive experience so you don’t want to have a trainer that has you doing Tae Bo rather than giving you good technical instruction to make sure you’re ready for the ring. Boxing as a form of workout is second to none, but if you want to do it in a competitive fashion, you could of course get hurt, so make sure you get a trainer that specializes in either or.
Keith: As a trainer and knowing the dynamics of being in that corner, what boxing trainer on the professional level, do you respect the most?
Highland: I have to say Emmanuel Stewart, even when he’s doing color commentary he always gives the average fan, good insight into the technical aspect of boxing. Not all trainers are able to articulate the intricacies of boxing, like Manny Stewart. He’ll let you know if you’re dropping your jab hand before you throw it, or if a guy is squared up, and turning on his punches. Most folks who don’t have a clue about the technical part of boxing would get a good lesson from listening to him when he’s working a fight.
Keith: Where do you see the sport of boxing going in the future?
Highland: Sky is the limit! There has been resurgence in the interest of the sport, because it’s now the hottest way for people to get in shape! The rise of MMA has also been good for the sport, because it includes boxing skills in it. MMA has also put good pressure on boxing promoters to give fans better matchups, so people are watching boxing more than ever.
Keith: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Highland: Thanks a lot for giving me a chance to talk about what I do, and encourage people to support their local amateur boxing programs. Boxing is an effective way of keeping our young folks out of trouble. There are some great people who volunteer their time to train kids in the sport of boxing.
By Keith Madyun/Highland Sizer