When he was 45-years old, George Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champion in history and did so by knocking out 27-year old Michael Moorer. Even more impressive was the fact that he did this after coming out of a 17-year long retirement, and then went on to fight professionally for another 3-years until he retired once again in 1997.
Think about that: Competing at the highest level of a "young person's sport" well into middle age and beating an opponent who wasn't even a teenager at the time of his first retirement. Could it be that "Big George" is the second coming of Superman? After all, at 48 years of age, most of us would think twice about pickup games in the backyard with our nephews, much less fighting in a heavyweight boxing ring!
Or, could it be that the intense workouts he performed while training for his fights kept him fit and youthful in a way few other workouts could?
Aha, perhaps we're onto something here!
Read on to find out how you can not only enjoy boxing despite your accumulation of birthdays, but how it can help to keep you young—and, tremendously fit.
A Young Person's Sport? Hardly!
No, you won't find many boxing gyms in senior homes, nor will you find many boxing newbies over the age of 30. However, this does not mean that just because you are pushing middle age you are destined to a life at the bingo table.
In fact, as the grey begins to show, there is no better time to get away from the sort of low-impact, steady-state exercise we are often told is best for us at our age.
Why is this, you ask?
Simple. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass which is not being utilized. We can increase muscle mass lost but it takes hard work, planning and dedication.
And, merely running or using a treadmill does little to counter this. In fact, doing so will likely just put you in the kind of rut that has you wondering if perhaps you are too old to see any fitness gains.
However, the kind of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and strength training used to box will do more to counter the effects of age-related muscle loss than steady-state endurance exercise can. This is because intense interval training not only strengthens your fast-twitch power muscles, it is one of the best forms of exercise to increase your body's Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production.
And, as we all know, HGH is the stuff which keeps us young!
Plus, using high intensity weight training, sparring, and interval training will have your metabolism screaming along like a youngster's—something which doesn't stop when your workout ends. In fact, most boxing workouts will have you burning extra calories for hours after completion—even when you have your feet up relaxing!
And more importantly, you will be retaining muscle mass, rather than losing it.
Can I Still Become a Champion?
Of course, the REAL benefit of boxing is…the FUN!
However, you may be worried that you, being a few years older, may never have a shot at becoming a club champion.
But, there is hope--let's go back to George Foreman for a moment, shall we?
Remember that he not only came out of retirement and became a champion again as he was pushing age 50, he did it against a foe who was but a schoolboy when he retired the first time.
However, this doesn't mean that you can (or should) just go up to the youngest, fittest individual in your gym, challenge them to a fight, and win. In fact, doing so would probably be the fastest way to the canvas short of just laying down on it for a nap!
But, by competing within your age range and against opponents at your ability and fitness level, you can experience just how intensely fun and competitive the fight game can be.
Plus, you never know—you may have some of what George Foreman has and be able to move up to more challenging and—dare we say it? --younger opponents!
That said, you need to start somewhere, which, for the sake of your safety and continued enjoyment of the sport, needs to be against opponents you are well matched against. When you keep it fun from the start, you have a much better chance of continuing to enjoy it as you become a more skilled fighter.
So, Just Anyone Can be a Boxer Then?
Finally, let's get one thing straight: Just because boxing has no official age limit, it does NOT mean that it is a good idea for just anyone to just jump in and begin wailing away at a high intensity.
For one thing, if you are coming off a sedentary lifestyle and looking to return to shape, you need to do it slowly, and preferably with an experienced professional trainer to guide you.
Likewise, you need to consult your physician first before engaging in any high-intensity sport. Even if you feel as though you are in shape, such factors as heredity and natural declines due to aging must be considered, and your doctor can best verify whether you are up for boxing.
A good trainer can also be well worth the investment, since they will understand your strengths, weaknesses, skills and ability levels. From this they can not only help you improve in areas which will help you stay injury-free, but that will help you become a better fighter as well.
Sure, George Foreman may be an exceptional individual, although he is still made of the same flesh and blood as the rest of us.
And what does this tell you?
Only that age is a number, and that despite your age, there is no reason you can't enjoy a "young person's sport."
However, ensuring that you are staying within your abilities and that you have no dangerous medical conditions before starting is crucial, even if you are made of the same material as Big George!