Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 weigh-ins (Ryan Hafey/PBC)
Boxers all prepare for fights in different ways. It might be an intense training camp and a strict diet. They might study videos of their opponents, attend fights and even psyche themselves up with trash talk. Anything that can give them an edge, build their momentum and hopefully see them to victory is worth a try, and sometimes, the more unusual rituals are worth examining.
Timothy Bradley, one of the few men to beat Manny Pacquiao, wouldn’t wash for a week before a fight. Wilbert Johnson used to arrive to the ring in a coffin, whilst Juan Manuel Marquez was pictured drinking his urine before a fight. Those are perhaps some obscure picks, but even the biggest names in boxing had their unique rituals. Here are four of the best fighters of all time and their rituals.
“Iron” Mike Tyson, the one-time “Baddest Man on the Planet”, was a human wrecking ball in the late eighties and early nineties, one of the most explosive, devastating fighters you’ve ever seen. He had raw aggression perhaps unrivaled even today and reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. He won his first 19 fights by knockout, 12 in the first round. How did he prepare for such amazing boxing feats? City crying. “I always cry before I fight,” he told Essentially Sports. “It’s just who I am. I’m getting ready to change into somebody I don’t like. He brought like, jealousy, envious, guilt, he brought a lot of stuff.”
It’s hard not to think of Ali when the words ‘boxing greats’ get mentioned. Like Tyson, he defined boxing during his time in the ring and was rightly nicknamed “The Greatest”. He was one of the first real showmen of the sport, an outlandish character with as many words pre-fight as punches thrown during a bout. He lost just five of his 56 bouts, three coming after he turned 36. Ali had a pre-match ritual he strictly adhered to: sexual abstinence. He would avoid his wife for up to two months before a big fight; something that Gala Bingo explained Manny Pacquiao also did. It served both men well; they’re two of the all-time greats of the boxing ring, with more major titles between them than any other two fighters on the planet.
Pacquiao is rightly revered as one of the greatest boxers of all time, a six-division champion. In 72 fights, he racked up 62 wins, 39 by knockout. How did he prepare for his fights? He did avoid his wife, only seeing her with a chaperone, but he had another ritual as well. He enjoyed slurping down Bulalo; a native Filipino soup made primarily from bones. Nonoy Neri, his personal chef, prepares the meal with cabbage and spices.
Tyson Fury is perhaps the most exciting boxer in the heavyweight division today. He’s pure showbiz, retiring when he wants, stringing the media on whenever he has something to promote. He’s also an incredible fighter, a powerful puncher who can take punishment and still beat the best. If things go well over the coming months, he could become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world this century, and he’ll use an unusual pre-fight routine to do so. It’s the exact opposite of Ali’s – Fury likes to masturbate to increase testosterone levels. “I gotta, to keep active and the testosterone flowing for the fight,” he said. “Don’t want the levels to go down.”