Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee (below)
offers tips to young fighters, as he once did
with Muhammad Ali & Sugar Ray Leonard
As a boxing scribe, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet with some of the greatest boxers and maestros of the sweet science. As a fledgling trainer, I always press the elites for some tips that they would be willing to share, or as I put it to them: "If you were teaching a class on boxing and you could only pass along a couple of points, what would they be?"
I recently chatted with Hall-of-Famer Angelo Dundee first about his superb memoir, My View from the Corner (McGraw Hill), and then about the state of boxing in general. In the last round of our discussion, I peppered him with questions about technique. He gave me a few tips to take back to my little gym – which happens to be in the basement of a Mexican market “La Esquina” in Northfield, Minnesota.
The professor lectured, "It is a cliche but true; in the ring, everything works off of the jab. You use it like a stick to keep your opponent at bay, and you use it to get inside and throw combinations. The key to a great jab is first to make sure that you are in position to throw it - which for righties means- your left foot is inside your opponent’s feet and that your body is at an angle - like a blade not squared up.”
Dundee continued with something more controversial. "Now, most trainers will tell you to slide in when you jab. Not me. I don't want my guy to throw until he can reach his man without stepping in. When you move in with the jab there is too much of a risk of falling forward and getting clobbered with a big shots.”
He continued, “The key is to have a good bend in the knees so that when you go to fire the jab you are not going to be loading up from the legs so that the other guy can see the punch developing. Also, make sure that you are bringing the jab up and down. To the body and then the head. That’s when you will start opening some windows for bigger shots.”
Pestered for another tip, Dundee offered this advice, “Teach your guys to slide over after every combination—just a little, maybe six inches -- that is all you need to create an angle. But you have to slide, not step, because when you step one foot is going to be coming off the ground. Of course never cross your legs. When you are going left- left leg first. To the right – right leg first. And when the other guy drops to shoot to the belly – slide right and throw the right.”
I asked Angelo how to create some openings for a fighter I am training who has a cannon of a right hand. He suggested, “Throw the jab, hook, and right a few times. And then have him throw a jab, right hand, feint the hook, and come back with another right. After the first right, the guy will be expecting a left hook, and will move his head into your guy’s right hand.” With that, I let Angelo slide left and away from this nagging reporter, who remains ever so grateful for the great trainer’s insight and generosity.
Other articles by Gordon Marino
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A former boxer, Gordon Marino
was head boxing coach
at Virginia Military Institute
and now runs a boxing program
in Northfield, Minn.,
where he teaches philosophy
at St. Olaf College.
He also writes about boxing
for the Wall Street Journal.
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