The train ticket
Boxing knowledge, patience and people skills... Glenn McCrory looks at what makes a great trainer.
Last Updated: 13/09/12 1:58pm
Rob McCracken did a wonderful job with the British boxers in the lead up to London 2012 and it got me thinking how important it is for fighters to have a great trainer.
The best trainers have an innate knowledge of the game; they don't have to have been a fighter but they need to have been around gyms for most of their life so they pick up the little trade secrets and extras that you can't really explain.
But they also have to be pseudo-psychologists; they have to fully understand their man's personality and mentality and know exactly how to motivate their fighter.
That can take a few sentences, like when the late, great Angelo Dundee famously shouted: 'You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!' to Sugar Ray Leonard during a bout with Tommy Hearns, a yell that inspired his charge to go and win.
But it can also be something long and Churchillian, such as the words Teddy Atlas used to direct towards Michael Moorer.
Atlas knew Moorer could get a bit lazy so needed to stay on his case and that worked to great effect when the New Yorker beat Evander Holyfield to win the world heavyweight title.
Patience is also a must-have quality of a good trainer, while you also have to be a realist and know that if your man does not have the abilities of a Sugar Ray Robinson there is no point making him box like him.
Some coaches get their stable of boxers to fight in exactly the same way, but the best ones take time to understand each guy's individual skills and what style will serve them best.
And finally, and perhaps, the most important factor of all, is hard work; nothing beats putting the hours in and striving to make your guy, or group of guys, better.
David Haye is angling for a fight with Vitali Klitschko and said this week that if the big Ukrainian retires now, he will leave the sport without having had a defining fight. I'm not quite sure a fight with David would be that defining, though...
Vitali, who conquered Germany's Manuel Charr on Saturday, has been the best heavyweight in the world for a decade and that is what has defined him, not one-off bouts.
I can see why David wants a fight with Vitali, though, because, due to the Briton's youth and speed, he would have a chance of handing Klitschko just his third professional loss.
Vitali has deteriorated over the last year or two and has begun to show his age, and signs that perhaps his heart is not in it any more; he may be there for the taking.
However, Klitschko's manager Bernd Boente is very smart and is not going to put Vitali in a fight just for the sake of it. I'm sure he wants the 41-year-old to retire peacefully, so it might take a lot for Haye to lure Vitali into a brawl.
If it did happen though, it would be a much bigger fight for David than it would be for Vitali. Vitali has been eating up people like David Haye for the last 10 years.