Undefeated world champion, role model and entrepreneur; Joe Calzaghe is nothing if not a go-getter.
Fight fans will remember him for a pursuant in-ring style, pro-actively hunting down the opposition. With Sardinian blood coursing through his Welsh veins, Calzaghe would routinely land 1,000+ punches per fight, drowning opponents in the deep waters of a dizzying array of angular combinations.
Indeed, it was this TV-friendly modus operandi that made Calzaghe a household name in the UK, whilst also allowing him to fill arenas across the globe.
Wales’ greatest ever combat sports athlete honed this rough-and-tumble approach whilst rolling around on the carpet at his family home, with his boxing genius father Enzo. Never one to engage in verbal self-promotion, Calzaghe Jr. let his work product do the talking. An intense approach to training led to the ‘Italian Dragon’ retiring undefeated, after 46 fights, winning 32 by knockout.
How did Calzaghe do it? Dave Wood breaks it down for BloodyElbow.com
HOW TO TRAIN LIKE JOE CALZAGHE
Before becoming a mentor to young fighters, in his heyday, Calzaghe excelled at focusing on long-term goals. The ‘Pride of Wales’ was humble enough to recognize that no-one can be on their "A-Game" 365 days a year. Therefore, in his flawless boxing career, he perfected the art of reaching a physical and mental peak on the night of the fight. Embarking on an ever-increasingly intense training program three months prior to showtime, Calzaghe would bulldoze his way through an unrivalled amount of conditioning work, utilizing the undulated scenery of Wales to test both himself, and his training partners, to the limit.
A favourite Calzaghe drill involved pushing a resistant partner uphill, forcing them to make a sprinting ascent in reverse.
Insiders intimate that Calzaghe would engage in daily six-mile runs, regularly breaking into 150-metre sprints, before returning to a steady pace. These morning sessions would then be followed by grueling marathons of afternoon gym work.
"I train twice a day, six days a week," said Joe, in conversation with FHM Magazine in 2008.
Joe's father Enzo elaborated "We do extreme cardio to help fine-tune Joe’s supreme fitness and hand speed. And let me tell you, I put him through hell. I'm incredibly proud of my son but, when he leaves the gym, I want him to go home in pain and feeling physically sick".
"Plus I give myself a week without sex," Joe added to the same discussion "and that really is tough."
HOW TO EAT LIKE JOE CALZAGHE
Now endorsing a range of protein supplements, throughout his active career, Joe Calzaghe was famously disciplined with his nutritional habits.
Consuming large portions of vegetables and pasta, meant that Joe’s training camp diet was always high in carbohydrates and extremely low in fatty foods. Calzaghe would even maintain his dietary discipline for a period after the successful completion of a fight. "There’s obviously the temptation to eat like a pig after all that dieting, but I prefer to wait and just take my time." Calzaghe explained to FHM, emphasising the importance of recovery to high-level athletes.
To this day, Calzaghe cares for his heart by drinking skimmed milk. Many don’t realise that this unassuming low-fat dairy product is connected with significant reductions in the risk of high blood pressure. Calzaghe also recommends swapping a lunchtime sandwich for soup, to lose excess weight by reducing your carb intake.
HOW TO PUNCH LIKE JOE CALZAGHE
Calzaghe’s striking technique was grounded in the solid fundamentals instilled him in at a young age by his father.
By committing himself to mastering boxing's founding principles, such as the "answer the phone" technique – in which a fighter’s non-leading hand is held up close to the cheek – Calzaghe was able to remain unbeaten through an astonishing fifteen-year career.
Calzaghe would consistently have his "phone hand" explode through an opponent’s guard, powered by the combination of piston-like leg-spring and intelligent body-weight distribution. Efficiently screwing the "phone hand" anti-clockwise, Calzaghe was able to regularly make sound contact with opponents' chins, with his knuckles facing downwards. The simplicity of Calzaghe’s foot, hip and hand positioning allowed him to institute positive habits. The Welshman’s varied arsenal of indefensible punch combinations was build on strong, old-fashioned foundations.
So there we have it; cardio-vascular conditioning, lean protein intake and sound technical fundamentals. All of the foundation stones that you need to begin building your career as the next unbeatable boxing champion of the world.