The skirmish to be sculpted

2012-05-19 19:28

Physical conditioners, or the lack of them, could explain why local heavyweight boxers are flabby, whereas rugby players are superb physical specimens.

This was the perspective of the University of Pretoria’s sporting director Kobus van der Walt.

Top boxers fight for 12 rounds, engaging in brutal battles involving blood, sweat and tears, but they look like retired fighters who suffer from atrophy.

On the other hand, rugby players are awesomely built.

What amazes about their intimidating physiques is that they are not boxers, and therefore do not need the strength to hurt each other deliberately, although it does happen.

“It begs the question whether boxing has the condition specialists, because they are highly qualified and do not come cheap,” said Van der Walt.

“The problem sometimes lies in having former athletes who think they know but lack acumen.”

Tukkies Rugby assistant coach Bart Schoeman echoed Van der Walt’s sentiments, saying: “If you don’t involve conditioning specialists in contact sports, you are bound to fail, and we are fortunate to have the best in the industry.”

“Rugby training is a bit different from boxing because it is a team sport, unlike boxing, which is an individual one.”

Being fired up or apathetic explained the physical difference, according to internationally acclaimed Professor Timothy Noakes, head of the Exercise and Sports Medicine Research Unit in Cape Town.

“Heavyweight boxers are not inspired to be fit because their opponents are not fit either, unlike rugby players,” said Noakes.

“Athletes become motivated to surpass their rivals if there is a mountain to climb – this is reality.”

Noakes also said that the turning point for rugby players came about when they took part in the World Cup – they won as hosts against New Zealand in 1995.

“Our men realised that they were facing formidable opposition and were forced to dig deeper into their
reserves and ultimately accomplished a historical feat,” said Noakes.

Norman Hlabane, who trained multiple world champions Dingaan Thobela and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, attributed boxers’ flabbiness to laziness, gluttony and a lack of sponsors.

“Rugby players are committed to training because, unlike boxers, they have sponsors and can take care of their diet,” said Hlabane.

If two-time world champion Francois Botha ate as much as he liked but emulated Bryan Habana by not swallowing it, he would be a well-sculpted heavyweight.


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