When Juan Manuel Marquez was training for his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2011, he enlisted the help of a ballet instructor to help him strengthen his legs and improve his footwork. Timing, balance and footwork are all essential facets of boxing and could mean the difference between winning or losing a fight. Boxers tend to spend hours skipping rope and running through a variety of drills to improve their footwork, which is one of the hardest boxing skills to develop as there are no real shortcuts to it.
While traditional footwork exercises may feel cumbersome after a while, dancing could very well be holding the key to the exact training boxers are desperately seeking. Many forms of martial arts have been compared to dancing in some form with Capoeira even having some dance moves included in it.
How can dancing benefit boxers?
Dance styles such as ballet and ballroom dancing can boost the value of any exercise program by teaching boxers technical dance steps, balance and rhythm. These newly acquired skills will not only help improve footwork but hip movement as well. Dancing is also invaluable as a cardio workout, especially when engaging in styles such as tap and hip-hop. Coupled with a fat shedding diet, dancing can have a significant impact on a boxer’s physique. Ballet, on the other hand, can teach boxers improved self-control, flexibility and improved balance.
Dancing not only benefits your body, it benefits your mind as well. By increasing serotonin levels your mood will be enhanced, making you feel happier and more confident, both of which will improve your performance in the ring.
Some types of dances require fast decision making as you change positions which will be beneficial to both a boxer’s mind and feet while fighting. This can be especially of benefit to boxers who take a lot of hits to the head.
Why aren’t more boxers dancing?
The answer to this question is more than likely two-fold. A lot of men steer clear from dancing because they do not think it befits their masculinity. Boxing is the epitome of manliness and somehow sweating it out in a ballet studio simply does not carry the same appeal as doing shadow-punching in a gym. The second reason dancing has not become inclusive in the training programs may be due to the fact that most boxers have simply never given it any thought. The fact that renowned boxers such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Laila Ali and Floyd Mayweather have all participated on the hit TV show ‘Dancing With The Stars’ should have hinted that boxing and dancing do complement each other, whether you consciously acknowledge it or not.
Apart from the physical benefits dancing can hold for boxers, it can also benefit them psychologically as it is a great stress and anxiety reliever. Taking all the benefits of dancing into consideration it is surprising that not more boxers have taken to the sport to help swing their odds in the ring in their favor.