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Fit Five: Boxing champion Gennady Golovkin

Five questions with the world middleweight champ and his trainer Abel Sanchez
Nathaniel Wood

Boxing trainer Abel Sanchez may have a job as a fortune teller if this boxing thing doesn’t work out. Sanchez has trained 14 world champions in 25 years with the latest being a 32-year old middleweight knockout machine from Kazakhstan, named Gennady Golovkin. The reigning WBA and IBO middleweight world champion is undefeated in 30 fights with 27 knockouts including KO’s in his last 17 fights.

Golovkin’s punching power is the stuff that legends are made of. But Golokin is also known as a workhorse, training at The Summit in Big Bear Lake in California, nearly 9,000 feet above sea level.  Golovkin’s training style is nothing if not old fashion. Most of his training involves boxing-specific work, bodyweight exercises and virtually zero tradition weight lifting.

We talked to Golvokin and his trainer Abel Sanchez about how the world’s most avoided fighter trains and the moment that Sanchez made a prophetic prediction on Golovkin, who is set to defend his titles against Marco Antonio Rubio Oct. 18 at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif.

Men’s Fitness: Abel, talk about the first time you met Gennady Golovkin and realized his incredible punching power.

Abel Sanchez: When I saw him hit the mitts I sat him down and I showed him a tape of Edwin Rosario and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and I said, this is who you can be. If you ever saw that fight it’s like a classic Mexican-style fight. I said this is who you can be except your going to be able to knock people out with your power. If you give me three years – I put the number 1 through 12 on the board, I put Muhammad Ali on the top, I left number 2 vacant, number I put Floyd (Mayweather) or maybe Sugar Ray Robinson and went down the line. I said to him, I promise you if you give me three years, you’re going to be right here at No. 2. You’re going to be the best middleweight in the world, you’re going the most avoided fighter in the world, you’re going to be world champion, you’re going to be undefeated and we won’t be able to get you a fight. He looked at me real sheepishly and said C’mon Coach. He didn’t’ think it was true, like he never imagined that.

Gennady, you are one of the busiest fighters in the sport. You fought four times last year. How do you stay prepared?

I want to fight. For me, it’s very hard to train too much, just sparring, sparring, sparring. It’s boring. I want to fight. I know training is important because (it’s something I must do) but today will be like “OK guys, show me your new ideas. Show me some different positions.” I’ll look for my problems. I’ll work them out and then by Friday it’s like “OK guys (let’s do it again).”

Abel, what type of training schedule or regimen you have for your boxers? Does it depend of the fight?

I don’t have one. They never know what’s coming. I don’t want them too. All they have to do is show up at the time that I tell them too. What we do that day depends on how I feel that day. They know they are going to run three times a week and they are going to train. That’s it. Each day is different.

I’ve heard you repeatedly stress the importance of stretching to your boxers. How important is that in the fight game?

We stretch at least three times a day. It might sound silly but you have to think of your body like a stick of gum. If I give you a stick of gum and ask you to stretch it, what happens? It’s going to break. But if I chew that piece of gum for a few minutes then what happens? You’re able to stretch is much farther. It doesn’t break as easily. It’s the same thing for your body. I’m not saying that we never have injuries but it happens a lot less frequently.

These fighters are going through 10 weeks of intense training camps, what’s the importance of recovery and how do you advise your fighters to make the most out of their recovery time?

Everything is here. There’s ice, an ice bath, steam room and a sauna. The stretching does a lot for them as well. Listen, I’m training these guys to take care of themselves. They have to take care of their bodies. I’m not going to baby them. I think too much emphasis is put on science. They know what they have to do. Sugar Ray Robinson didn’t have all this. 


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