Belief Syndrome in Boxing

Belief Syndrome in Boxing

Over the years countless notions have been gathered by boxing experts about the ingredients required to become a world champion.

Speed, accuracy, technicality and stamina are vital; some will mention heart and courage aided by an iron chin, while others swear by power mixed with raw aggression.

But the most important component of all is an invisible force that is the least talked about, belief.

Ask any inspiring youngster in boxing clubs up and down the country why they took up the sport, and most will tell you they believe one day they will become champions.

This belief is installed into boxers naturally at an early age and is the driving force behind all the long morning runs and countless hours in the gym.

The principles of this belief have existed since the birth of boxing when John L. Sullivan standing on a saloon bar stool would shout “I’ll lick any son of a bitch in the house”. 

For some the belief factor ensures they fulfil their dreams and become champions, while for others it becomes a focal point of their lives, overshadowing their judgement and reason, hence becoming a syndrome.

This belief syndrome has accumulated many more illustrious victims in the past such as James J. Jefferies, Joe Louis and Mohammed Ali.

An old, fading Jefferies was battered to defeat by a younger, fresher Jack Johnson, a tired, worn out Louis was stopped by the powerful Rocky Marciano and the shadow of Ali was embarrassed by an average Trevor Berbick.

Ali at 39 was already taking medication for what turned out to be Parkinson’s disease when the belief syndrome took over his focus and distorted his judgement.

Do these pugilists prolong their careers for financial gain? Of course the money is a factor but the reason these warriors continue is they believe they can again become kings of the world.

They have that same belief which inspired them the first time they entered a gym and put on the sacred gloves, their bodies and physical attributes may diminish but sadly their belief to succeed does not.

As for Holyfield he remains adamant that “one day I will become champ again because I believe in myself”.

It is frightening to think that the same belief which inspires youngsters to become great, if not controlled, can physically and mentally damage them for life.