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This Guy Fights Kids Half His Age

When most boxers are considering retirement, this coach decided to pursue his dream of stepping in the ring.

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Brian Grasso doesn’t have to do anything. Having been a strength coach to elite athletes as well as founder of the premier authority on youth training in the fitness industry, his legacy is already secure. But a life-long passion for boxing has driven this Canadian to transform his body and lay it on the line in unsanctioned bouts against men nearly half his age. And now he’s hungrier than ever. Always an athlete, Grasso competed in various martial arts matches through his 20s while building a reputation in Toronto as a trainer to Canada’s Olympic teams. Recognizing the area of youth sports conditioning as one of the most underdeveloped in the industry, Grasso educated himself to become perhaps the world’s foremost expert on the subject. In 2003, he started the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA), which is now widely recognized as the go-to organization for youth fitness information, even certifying trainers to work with kids. Grasso has lectured around the world and helped rewrite P.E. curricula in middle schools.

THE WORKOUT
A sample of what Grasso did to drop weight and build a boxer’s power and stamina 1a) SQUAT 1b) BOXJUMP - Do 4 sets of 12–15 reps each, resting 0 sec. in between and then 45 sec. after both. 2a) PUSH-UP 2b) BURPEE - Done the same as above. CIRCUIT 3a) TUCKJUMP - 20 reps 3b) BEARCRAWL - Walk for 20 feet. 3c) PUSH-UP INTO BURPEE - 5 reps 3d) PULL-UP - 8 reps - No rest between exercises. Rest 45 sec. after each circuit, and repeat for 3 total circuits.

“I had the pressures of my career,” says Grasso, “so I never got into fighting as much as I wanted. But when I was 34, I decided it was time to get back into boxing.” He hired a coach and got to work. “At an age when most people would be shutting it down, I wanted to kick it up. I wanted to be fluent in a sport that I loved.” Weighing 240, Grasso wanted to slim down for the sake of his health as well as to be a more efficient fighter. In the mornings, he performed various super- sets (see his workout at right). In the evenings, Grasso’s boxing training provided the perfect cardio—he did intervals of bag work, mitts, and sparring. His diet centered on lean protein and vegetables, with some healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil at every meal. By Christmas of 2007, about six months into his regimen, Grasso had carved himself down to 185—a big-framed and hard-hitting middleweight (after cutting down for a weigh-in). Consider this: Grasso often trained on the road while lecturing in faraway places like New Zealand. “People allow more time than is necessary to get things done,” he says. “I never did. I was still able to take a 45-minute nap every day.” Although Grasso has amassed several wins in interclub matches (some with minimal rules and rings that consisted of only a square on the floor) during the past four years, he’s still looking for a chance to prove himself in a public event. “Turning pro means getting a sponsor, and nobody’s going to pay a 38-year-old to fight,” he says. If the chance does come to compete in sanctioned amateur bouts, Grasso insists on fighting the same kind of opponents he spars with—18- to 22-year-olds. “A guy fighting a kid he could have fathered—most people don’t think that’s something you’d want or that could even be possible. But I refuse to believe that age has to be a prohibiting factor. I can still do it.”

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