Simon Ekin

What two boxing bouts in the Army taught me about resilience

Resilience: 5 lessons from boxing in the army
Inter-Company Boxing Night – Photo courtesy of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

I didn’t have a very long or illustrious boxing ‘career’ – in fact it lasted just two bouts – but I remember it well. Whilst attending The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – where the British Army trains it’s officers – we were introduced to ‘milling:’ 60 seconds of non-stop ‘controlled aggression’ against your opponent, with boxing gloves. With a twist: the ever-watching training staff would pair you up with a friend. This video will give you a sense of what it’s like.

From this process, a few of us were selected to box in the inter-company boxing night, along with all the pomp and ceremony that is the British Army. The day before, I discovered that my opponent had boxed no less than 32 times for the Metropolitan Police.

It was not a long fight. I ‘telegraphed’ my punches and he saw them coming. A jab here, a jab there (repeat) and after 2 rounds my nose exploded, covering the canvas with bloody crimson dots. My nose felt like a rock for the rest of the week with all the congealed blood.

But I didn’t give up and I didn’t shy away from the ‘milling.’ I was shit-scared of looking weak or beaten as adrenaline coursed through my veins, but it taught me the power of resilience or ‘getting stuck in’. The dictionary defines resilience as: the ability to recover from, or adjust to, misfortune or change. It has been an essential skill for me over the years; a faith and belief that everything will be okay in the end.

And this time of the global Coronavirus pandemic, with change and uncertainty rife, I believe that resilience is about the most important skill we can posses. Check out this post for some sound scientific tips on how to build it.

Now get out there and knock ’em dead, and shout if you need help. If you are looking for some inspiration, watch this remarkable short video on an exhibition of boxing resilience.