Going From Amateur Boxer to Coach

Someone told me that if a person has had a couple of fights, they can lead others through boxing training. Certainly having ring experience helps, but that’s not the only requirement for being a boxing coach.

A boxing coach develops fighters’ skills, technique, physical strength, stamina and mental game in order to be the best they can be in the ring. A boxing coach fills many roles depending on the fighters they train: psychologist, friend, cheerleader, taskmaster, mentor, parental figure, etc. The coach has to be observant in regards to the strengths and weaknesses of their fighters, and develop methods to help their fighters improve.

The boxing coach also has to be aware of their fighters’ competition. They need to formulate plans to help their fighters overcome any challenge the competition may bring.

If you are already attending a boxing gym, some of the best training to become a coach is to pay attention to what your coach, as well as other coaches communicate to fighters about boxing technique. Being observant about what works and doesn’t work in the ring is beneficial to learning how to coach.

Roles Of A Boxing Coach

A coach in a boxing gym many hats.

Parental figure

This is especially true if the coach is training kids and/or teenagers. He or she may serve as an extra parental figure or the only one (depending what’s going on in the youths’ lives at home). The coach may also act in this capacity towards some adults who may be in need of having their confidence built up. Another part of being a parental figure is to protect others from harm. Sometimes, the coach has to make the decision whether or not their boxer should continue fighting in a match, especially if the boxer has been injured.

Drill sergeant

Even the best of boxers need someone to stay on them to train and remain focused on what they are doing. A coach can serve as an accountability partner to make sure the boxer is not slacking off on what they need to do to win fights.


Boxers need a person to keep them up when it looks like things are going south, especially in the middle of a match. Before the match, the coach will encourage their fighters to do their best, give it their all, and win the bouts.

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In amateur boxing, the coach has a big influence on getting fights for their boxers. They are right in the “war room” before bouts, trying to get the best matchups possible for their boxers.

Being Part of the Corner

Besides learning technique as part of boxing training, another good way to learn more about the sport is be part of a boxer’s corner during bouts. According to USA Boxing, two corner people can be in the boxer’s corner along with the coach.

The number one rule about working in the corner is to remember that the coach is the only person who should be talking during the rest period in between rounds. The boxer will be tired after each round. It is the job of the corner persons to prepare the boxer to go back out and do battle when the bell rings. The coach is the general who gives the battle plan. Too many voices coming at the boxer in the short minute of rest is confusing to the boxer.

Supplies needed most often in the corner are: water, petroleum jelly, towels, icepacks, an end swell (a flat metal object used to reduce swelling on the boxer), gauze and tape.

What you do to assist the boxer in the corner between rounds depends on what the coach dictates. The coach may need someone to make sure a bucket — for the boxer to spit into — is placed between the boxer’s feet once they sit down in the corner. The boxer will need to have some sips of water. Someone needs to be responsible for placing the stool in the corner as soon as the bell rings to end the round. The boxer is going to need to have sweat and perhaps blood wiped off of them. Regardless of what is required in the corner, all corner persons have to be attentive and ready to work.

I was at a casino watching the fight of a boxer I know. The coach was in his corner along with a guy who was helping with conditioning the boxer outside of the gym. When the boxer dropped his opponent right before the bell rang, the conditioning coach jumped up and down in happiness. Problem was, the boxer was back in the corner and needed to be looked after. Fortunately, another guy I knew jumped into the corner to help the coach with the boxer.

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Receiving a Coach’s License

Coach’s clinics are usually held by the LBC (local boxing council). In order to obtain a coach’s license, interested persons must attend a clinic, take a test, and pass it. There is a fee for the coach’s license, which is usually given out at the clinic or mailed to individuals later. A background check must be filled out as well.

There are four levels of coaches in USA Boxing. Level 4 coaches are the people who work with Olympic-level boxers. Usually, a coach on this level is the person who will preside over the clinic. Level 2 and Level 3 coaches can volunteer on regional and/or national levels. In order to qualify for these levels, coaches should have the experience of coaching and working the corner at USA Boxing, Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, PAL (Police Athletic League), NCBA (National Collegiate Boxing Association), or Armed Forces Championships. Level 1 coaches are qualified to work with amateur boxers in the local gyms in the area where they reside. They can also work the corners at sanctioned amateur matches.

The clinics last anywhere from an hour to several hours, depending on how many people are in attendance, and how much material has to be gone over. I suggest before going to any coach’s clinic, contact USA Boxing to get a copy of their most current rule book regarding coaching. Review it before going to the clinic because it will tell you what you need to know.

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by Hillari Hunter