“The boxers will bring to the fight everything that is themselves, and everything will be exposed—including secrets about themselves they cannot fully realize.” – Joyce Carol Oates “On Boxing”
If you have googled “boxing in Joburg”, or a similar phrase, and you’ve landed here and you’re reading this, you’re almost there, “there” being a combination of the fittest that you will be since you played sport in high school, and an appreciation of the pugilistic arts that listening toJoe Rogan’s MMA commentary will never provide. Basically, that was just a fancy way of saying that you will stop being a fatty and you’re going to f*cking love boxing. Verbosity is out and “fancy” is not what you need. Boxing is not fancy or pretentious and it shouldn’t be. Once you’re hooked and you’ve read enough Joyce Carol Oates et al, (don’t buy that craft beer and organic jalapeno & bree burger, box and buy literature that you can relate to) you’ll know that a boxing gym shouldn’t be a sterile Sandton-based, white collar, add-some-wheat-grass-to-my-organic-smoothie, hipster’s excuse for a trendy place to Instragram about your pseudo-exercise endeavours. Thank your lucky little stars that you’re thinking about boxing and that you live in Joburg (are there many reasons to celebrate a city that has a penchant for reminding you that “Africa isn’t for sissies”?) because then you have a chance to train at JAB.
Context is important. Just based on its surroundings, you will know that JAB is a genuine boxing gym. It is opposite a construction depot and just up the street from what is, de facto, an urban truck stop. The gym is on the top floor of a nearly empty building that, true to its surroundings, has a few blue collar businesses that will, on occasion, make use of the parking lot for welding. You will be doing lunges past them and you will be running up and down the stairs that lead into the gym until you feel like Deep Heat has been spread into every lobe of your lungs and you won’t remember how long you have been at it for…and you will be happy.
Do not just read this. Go to JAB, head up the stairs (you’ll hear the “shtick, shtick, schtick…” of the skipping ropes and the “thup, thup thup…thup” of gloves against the bags) and tell the coaches (there are three of them, Grant, Shane and Shanna) that you want to train. Be honest. Adopt the Delphic maxim and “know thyself” because you are overweight (a polite way of saying fat and lazy) and the clock is spinning (2010 feels like yesterday but it isn’t) and soon you will be past the point of ever seeing a six pack in the mirror. I know that you want to do more than head to that franchised gym near your office to “lift” because you know it won’t work. Mens’ mags lie more than “Honorable” Ministers…you know exactly what I am talking about.
Like the gym itself, JAB coaches are genuine. They know boxing (Shane is the American Sniper of bad technique…he’ll spot it from 3 clicks away) and they know what it means to push yourself until the tank is empty. They will train with you and they will push you with unequivocal demands for faster and harder arm-burning combinations on the bags. They will make pool noodles of your limbs and you will learn that they know that you have more in the tank than you think you do. They knew that about me and they know it about every man and woman who has walked up the stairs and said that they want to train.
The coaches will be right next to you at 05:30am when the cold morning air is its own form of Deep Heat and you’re dying for the road work to end…and that’s when they’ll push you harder than you would push yourself. Yes, boxing is a solo sport, in that you alone have to confront the fact that you don’t (yet) know how to hit, or take a hit, like Brad does in Snatch. However, training to get into the ring can, and should be, a team sport. The training sessions are like poker nights with your mates…full of banter and taking the piss. Of course, you can cheat and you can choose not to hit the big bag until you reach that point where you will struggle to turn the steering wheel after training because your arms are shivering from exhaustion…but you risk not being invited back to the table because it’s is a hell of a lot harder to cheat, or lie to yourself about how tough you are, when you have knowledgeable coaches watching you and team mates who know when you’re slacking.
A world champion boxer has autographed the wall next to the entrance of the gym and he added the following words: “Train more, bleed less.” That truism applies to you. You will most likely never compete but the more you train the less fat you will be and all the other things that made you google “boxing Joburg” will have changed. Give it a few months and what you will have, because you earned it through sweat and biting down on your gum guard and going another round when your legs felt like they were strapped to two separate skateboards, is: better fitting clothes (a very underrated experience); a stronger stomach (“dad bod” is not something to be proud of); better sleep (way better); a new Whatsapp group of “Regular Diehards” (provided you train hard enough to earn the invitation) who will banter about who was or was not working hard enough at the gym or how to stream GGG’s latest fight (google him); the knowledge of how to hit and be hit; and the knowledge of what it feels like to train, to truly push the physical thing that is your body. That thing that you are sitting in right now is the only body that you will ever have. Digest that.
There is a line in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (I repeat: buy some literature) that I think applies to training at JAB, namely: “We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.” Right now you are ignorant. You don’t know what it is like to turn your body around from its journey into obesity and to live in a healthy machine that works like it ought to and to have your endurance and mental strength tested. There is a whole bag of reasons why intelligent people like Mandela loved what is affectionately called the Sweet Science. It takes bravery, intelligence and skill to be a good boxer. The JAB coaches and boxers can help you when it comes to the last two of those traits; the first one is in your hands.
If you … if you do more than google this, what follows will change you for the better.
The author is nearly forty. He lost 27 kilograms in 6 months. He will box for the rest of his life.
Luke ‘The Hammer’ Havemann
Here’s a pre-holiday shoutout to JAB – I miss the workouts, the team and all the JAB action! A few months of training with you in 2016 were the best! Great motivation, great spirit, great people! And great results!! For me, the experience at JAB was truly life-changing. Shanna, Shane and Grant – you all rock! Wishing you great success! We’ll train together again, I am sure.
JAB – making the bad days good and the good days better.
At Jab Boxing Fitness Club you get the all round package, the trainers are friendly and motivate you to achieve your goals you have set out for yourself, the people you meet while getting fitter have changed my life not only socially but personally as well definitely a must for any person who is keen to train and keep fit as well as meeting awesome people along the way!
Thanks to Jab Boxing, I’ve lost 9 kilos since Jan 2013 but also gained a lot of great mates!! It really is an awesome training experience and allows to you push yourself beyond what you ever thought you could do! If you want to find out what it means to feel alive, then come do a few workouts at the club! LEGEND!!
The trainers are amazing motivators and you meet the most divine people who are always st friendly
Everyone is always ready to help and it’s the best place to reach your goal in loosing weight
So glad to have found such an amazing fitness club! The work out is great, and the trainers are friendly and do their utmost to try new exercises and keep it interesting. I’ve made some wonderful friends and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been
Jab isn’t only about losing weight and gaining fitness, but making friends for life and having fun well doing it! Its made exercising a highlight of my day and boosted my confidence, I’m not the shy girl I used to be, that’s for sure, and jab boxing had a big part to play in that
I started training there at the beginning of 2012. What a transformation! Lost 13kg’s and I’m now in the best shape and fittest I’ve been my whole life! Confident and strong is my new drug
Having lost 24kgs in 9 months with Jab Boxing Fitness Club training only, I am feeling brilliant and i can honestly say its the best and most fun type of exercise I have ever done. All the trainers are brilliant motivators and the different training techniques keep it interesting and fun;they are great people too, except when they catch me cheating in some of the tougher exercises.
Love it! Definitely has improved my fitness and strength levels.
Jab Boxing Fitness Club has changed my life for the better . I’ve lost nearly 10kg to the classes , motivation of the trainers and all round workouts, which all have produce positive attitude and vibes . It feels good going to boxing and knowing that I’m in an environment that is refreshing , motivating and an over all excellent club . The facilities are welcoming and offer everything that is needed to help you achieve your goals . The trainers are well qualified , friendly people , who work with you for your best interests . The classes and one on one lessons are fun and hard work at the same time , and you don’t ever feel left out no matter your fitness level . Jab Boxing is the place to be for an all body workout with a touch of fun . Love it , keep the amazing work up