Old boxing exercises and training?

Where does on go to find a book or DVD on Old fashioned boxing training.Becuaes as far as I'm concerned the Boxers from the early 1900's seemed alot more tougher than the present boxers we have to day.

I've heard stories that some of these guys use to fight up to 30 rounds in a fight.I really couldn't see that happen now adays.

If fights today were 30+ rounds, good fighters would adapt by doing more roadwork and throw fewer punches per round.

Guys like Bernard Hopkins would be good in any era.

But to answer your question, a book you could check out is Prof Mike Donovan's "Scientific Boxing."

William Muldoon had John L do manual labor on his farm to prepare for the Kilrain fight. James Jeffries did 15 miles of roadwork a day before a fight. Jack Dempsey ran 7 miles the morning of his fight with Jess Willard.

I heard that Jack Dempsey built a special room that was about 5' high,and it was buit for the purpose of shadowboxing.

Here's a link to an article entitled "How I Got and Keep My Fighting Muscles" by Jack Dempsey (scroll down the page a bit.)


I train at a JKD school and are primary instructor(pretty much my instructor's instructor)is Larry Hartsell(Whom is inhis 60's now) in his younger years had the oppurtunity to train with some of these old timers.

I've always been anti-machine.So if anyone knows where I can find some books on this stuff It would be much appreciated.


The old timers trained for stamina mostly and felt
everything else would follow. Nat Fleisher wrote a
book on boxing training many years ago which is
still available through used book outlets. It pretty
much covers how the old timers trained.

Maybe i dont want to know, bear in mind there are children on this site.


Interesting thread.

cool links ta, but one minor point about this;

"Becuaes as far as I'm concerned the Boxers from the early 1900's seemed alot more tougher than the present boxers we have to day"

learning how old-timers trained is interesting, and their methods undoubtedly have some worth still today. But I wouldn't get too misty-eyed about the superior 'toughness' of these men. Training methods have evolved for good reason - they produce better results. 15 miles steady pace running for instance isn't really that applicable to any kind of fight sport. I'm not saying reject everything old-timers used to do, but be wary of turning into a Matt Furey-esque "the old way is the only way" type bod.


You make a very good point BUT one thing I've found in researching this topic is alot of the old-timer didn't really train all that differently then alot of the fighters today, some were just more consistent in their training (training even when they didn't have a fight).

Also the roadwork varied, some old-timers advocated long distance running others didn't.

I've found that training even among "old-timers" varied from boxer to boxer from trainer to trainer.

m.g. - do you have any other links etc to stuff about this? I do find this kind of stuff genuinely interesting. Maybe I need to get out more.

Title Fights today are 12 rounds.

Title Fights 100 years ago were 45+ rounds.

There is no doubt in my mind the figherrs of the
past had better stamina than do today's fighters. In
those days the purpose of training camp was to
get as light a weight as possible without loosing
strength. Today, fighters go to camp to bulk up.
Marciano could have easily weighed 205 had he
wished, but he would reduce to 185 or so,
because that was the prevailing thought on how to
best prepare for a fight. I remember hearing Joe
Louis comment one of Foreman's early fights
where Foreman weighed in at 220 and looked
great. Louis said, in his mind Foreman should
never weigh more than 212. That was their


The fighters of the past may have had better stamina then the fighters today because they simple trained and fought more often AND more consistently.

I was watching a Sport Century show about Rocky Marciano where his friends, family as well as coaches confirm the fact that Marciano was a fitness nut and essentially trained ALL the time even when he didn't have a fight. Rocky apparently care about the shape he is in. This was also stated in a biography about Rocky Marciano.

One of the links above is to an old strength and conditioning magazine where Jack Dempsey talked about his training. He, like Marciano, liked to keep in shape and essentially trained ALL the time even when he was competing.

The problem with todays boxers, if they actually have a problem, is they only train when they have a fight. They only work when for the two or so months of training camp. this would account for the flactuation in weight.

I serious doubt that Marciano would go into training camp with losing weight in mind. Why? Because since he was already fit and at his fighting weight before training camp there would be no need to lose weigh during the training camp. The training camp wasn't meant to get into shape BUT rather to take one shape to another level, that is, to peak it.

Also if Joe Louis actually said that I think it is a stupid statement which has no logic to it. George Foreman is simply a larger man. I think 220 is a good weight FOR HIM and a natural weight for him. For Foreman to come in any lower than that is just plain dumb. What would be the point? See, I think Joe Louis is trying to impose onto Foreman a body weight which may have been good for Louis or perhaps some other heavy weight boxer but not necessarily for George.

If George was fit and trim at 220 then that's the weight best suited for him, he should have to come in any lower than that.

If George Foreman trained as hard as Rocky Marciano (and consequently came in 10 pounds lighter) he would have beaten Ali in Zaire.


Although Louis was much quicker (supposedly) he was still at a weight that was natural for him. It would be ridiculous for Foreman, who was a much bigger man than Louis, to lose weight or get down to a weight that is much lower than his natural weight just be alittle be faster. I guarantee for a man of George Foreman's size and built getting to and maintaining a weight that is so much lower than his natural weight range will be waaaaaay to much trouble than it would be worth.

See, that is another problem with boxers who fight at a weight that is lower than their natural weight. Even if it has some benefits it will cost them in the long run BECAUSE it takes alot of energy and effort to not only get to that weight from their natural weight BUT also to maintain it.

You can't use fighters like Louis or Marciano as an example primarily because they never really flactuated much in their weight which is a very good indication that they fought at their natural weight. So for fighters like them it wasn't much of a struggle them to maintain that weight.

Bottomline I think it is dumb to try to fight at a weight that isn't ones natural weight, I think it is stupid to advise a person to fight at a weight that isn't within their natural weight range.

The Mike Donovan book is actually "Science of Boxing", and it's a fascinating read.

I don't know how much good it will do you to try and emulate it, though. Do you really want to have a glass of Sherry with a raw egg yolk for breakfast?




I don't think Ali and Louis were the same height. I think Louis was 6 foot maybe 6'1" Ali was about 6'3". Ali also had a naturally bigger frame than Louis. Foreman was about the same height as Ali maybe an inch taller BUT he also had a thicker frame.

Clearly out of the three: Louis, Ali, Foreman, Joe Louis was the smaller one, height wise and frame wise.

You also have to keep in mind people "shrink" as they age. So Ali in his 20s and early 30s may not be as tall as he was in his late 30s and 40s and he definitely wouldn't be as tall in his 50s and 60s as he was in his early years. The same came be stated about Foreman and Louis.

Also I don't think Louis ever fought at 220. I have to look it up in the Boxing Register but I think his heaviest weight was 210 or some where around that. And this weight was when he came out of retirement. Louis for the most part of his boxing career fought at a weight which was natural for him, and that weight was about 185.

Anyway for Foreman to lose that extra 1.5% body fat and come in at 212 instead of 215 is downright stupid to me. I don't think it would have made that big of a difference. Foreman is just a big man and trying to artificially to get him to come in lower than his natural weight just can't be good for him. First off I think it would be a great effort for him to come in any lower that 220 and I think it would be even more work for him to even maintain that weight.

As far as Foreman's frame and Louis frame I don't think they were even close. I know they have full body stats on both of these fighters floating around and if they were to be compared, I'm sure Foreman would be shown as the large of the two in all if not most of the body parts measured.