As our latest Fight Skool intake kicks off, we thought what better time than to tell you a bit about the fight skool journey.
Dan Cloak has being undertaking this journey regualry since 2017. We asked him to tell us his story, what does he get out of putting himself through 10 weeks of intense training and getting regualry punched in the face? Quite a lot it seems.
Check out Dan’s inspiring story below.
When did you first do Fundamentals?
March 2017. My most vivid memory is the intense fear – I walked past the entrance to the gym 4 times and was about to just write off the money I had paid and get straight back on the train to the safety of home before I finally plucked up the courage to walk up those stairs. Best decision I ever made!
How would you describe yourself before you started boxing?
Shy, unfit and pretty unhappy in general. Nothing too dramatic but had had a few setbacks which had knocked my confidence and I felt like I was sort of drifting through life a bit.
Also I was seriously unfit which didn’t help, I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in literally YEARS before 12 Rounds. I had resolved to get fit at the start of 2017 so had made a few token gestures to start, some light running here and there, got a cheap bike machine for Christmas which I had used a couple times. But no-one (including me) actually believed I was serious about getting into shape until I started boxing!
If memory serves when I walked through the door to start Fundamentals I was about 76kg, down from my peak of 80+ the year before, which might not sound huge but since then I have fought at 61kg so for me it was pretty big!
What attracted you to do a fight?
So one of the reasons I took up boxing was because I was in the process of joining the RAF and I needed to get fit for that. I’d finished Fundamentals in mid-April and had been training normally at the gym for a few weeks when I had a major setback and the job fell through in incredibly frustrating fashion (long story!). This was a major setback in career terms but also meant I had lost my main motivation for getting fit. I think in previous years that would have set me off into a major downward spiral.
But I guess I must have picked up a little bit of the resilient boxing spirit already from my first 6 weeks at 12 Rounds because after the initial strop, I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin the progress I had made and that what I needed was a new motivation, a new target to aim for.
So that very night, while part-way through a large bottle of whiskey drowning my sorrows, I e-mailed Kat to ask if they did any white collar fights from the gym. By freak chance, the next fight camp started the following week. I signed up (after finishing the bottle) and the rest is history.
How do you feel now, 10 fights in?
It wouldn’t be at all an exaggeration to say it’s completely changed my life.
I’m a much happier, more confident and more positive person now than I was pre-boxing. I guess fighting is a weird kind of soul searching because you find answers about yourself in that ring and it’s hard not to be a bit more upbeat and positive about yourself and what you are capable of doing when you get through something as daunting as the experience of the training camp and the fight night.
But it’s more than just the fight, it’s the whole experience leading up to it. The team bond you build up in camp is like nothing I had experienced before, a 10-week camp is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and you spend a LOT of time together so from total strangers you end up as a very close group. I’ve made so many friends for life in between smashing each other up in sparring.
And obviously I’m much fitter and healthier now (well, most of the time anyway… we won’t talk about the bits in between training camps!).
All of it – being more positive about yourself and your capabilities, the confidence in meeting new people and making new friends etc – it all carries over into your life outside the gym and it makes you a better version of yourself. It might sound a bit daft but I’m convinced that I’m a much better person than I was before 2017 thanks mainly to boxing. Maybe I’m not as entertaining on a night out these days though…
…let’s talk about those bits in between training camps…
Well my favourite boxer was always Ricky Hatton and I guess he influenced more than just my style in the ring because I tend to let myself go a bit in between fights. I’m a VERY target-oriented person so I need to have a specific goal to work towards to stay motivated.
As soon as I finish a training camp and don’t have that fight date to work towards I’m back on the takeaways and beers. It’s good and necessary to have that downtime because the intensity of a 10-week camp isn’t sustainable without it, but it would be fair to say I’ve been known to overindulge a little TOO much. I regularly put on 10% or more of my fighting fit body weight in between camps so each time it’s a bit like starting again from scratch!
Signing up for a fight is uniquely motivating though, there’s nothing quite like knowing that someone is going to try and knock you out in front of hundreds of people to incentivise you to work hard.
In truth, it’s not just the fear of the fight that motivates you, at least not after the first one or two fights. Nowadays I’m as much motivated by being a good team-mate and trying to set a good example for less experienced fighters on each camp.
And also I’m motivated to improve each time, to take what I learned from the previous camp to make little changes to my style or to the ways that I train and recover to be a slightly better version of myself each time. I want to keep improving and pushing myself, fighting tougher opponents and testing myself in longer fights. That’s the great thing about boxing – no matter how well or badly you did in the last fight, there is always the next mountain to climb for you to focus on and work towards.
Once I have a fight date, no-one takes the training and dieting more seriously than I do. My record is dropping from 75kg at Christmas to fighting at 64.5kg in March… certainly made for a good before and after photo!
What advice would you give someone starting out on their boxing journey?
Make sure you walk up those stairs and don’t bottle it and get the train back home like I nearly did!
That’s just the first step of course but facing up to your fears and pushing through them is a common theme on your boxing journey so get used to taking a leap of faith every now and then.
I was terrified when I first walked into the gym; terrified when I walked into my first sparring; terrified when I arrived for my first fight; terrified when I went to my first conditioning circuit (actually I’m still terrified of those!).
Trying new things is scary. Sometimes boxing is a bit scary too.
But the sense of achievement and confidence boost you get every time you face down your fear and walk up those steps into the gym? That’s priceless.
We are pleased to say that Dan is a bit of a permament feature down at 12 Rounds. You’ll often find him shadow boxing in reception and helping out in the gym. He’s also about to turn his hand to some coaching and complete his England Level 1 course later this year. We are sure his personal expereince and boxing ability will make him a fantastic coach and look forward to seeing him teaching some classes in the near future.