(cover photo c/o Through Chito’s Lens)
Last Friday November 9, 2013 I was fortunate enough to take part in a media event/boxing clinic/meet and greet with Alexander Gustafsson that was organized by Balls TV. It was held at FitBox Technogym (you can read about the my review of the gym earlier this year) which is (fortunately) where I train and would explain why I got to attend the event. I’ve got to admit that I’ve only become a Gustafsson fan after UFC 165; that for me, was ONE OF THE MOST AWESOME fights I have EVER witnessed in the UFC! Accurate boxing, great takedown defense, great movement, strength plus the fact that he damaged and pushed Jon Jones like no other. I found it hard to fall asleep the night before because I was so excited (and was too tired from the long drive from earlier that day), I kept thinking how cool it would be to be in the same room with an awesome fighter like him! Not to mention being able to shoot pics, blog about the event and get his autograph!
We were notified a day before by the FitBox Technogym Facebook page that it would be open to members who wanted to workout from 10am-3pm and that the event would start at 3pm. I arrived at around 3:30pm thinking I was late but it turns out that the 3pm call time was for the staff to be able to prepare for the start of the event at 4pm. While waiting, I got the chance to meet with Chito Luna and his team as they were setting up for the shoot. We chatted for a while and got photography tips from him (especially about Tamron and Sigma lenses :p). Gustafsson arrived at around 3:45pm and I tried to take a few picture but I found it hard since I only had the Canon with the 50mm with me. I forgot my Olympus cam (which was what I used for the wide angle shots) at the gym’s lobby/couch where Alexander and his team were lounging. I couldn’t get my stuff while he was there and surrounded by his bodyguards so I just waited until the event started to quickly get my cam. It was actually my first time attending a media event and I was clueless. People were running around placing banners, setting up photo/video equipment, removing gym equipment to clear some space so I just tried to be ninja-like and not to be in anyone’s way.
There were only a small number of gym members who actually went to the event. There were some who signed up but didn’t show up. At least the familiar faces were there so I wasn’t as lonely as I thought I would be. Lol.
At around 4pm we were informed that the event was about to start, so I prepared my cameras. The host introduced Alexander as he walked through the gym’s door and the event was in full swing. As I was happily (and star-struck) clicking away, I was told by Gerry that I should change my clothes and take part of the Boxing Clinic (good thing I brought clothes!). So I quickly left my gear with him, changed quickly and jumped into the fray.
I’m sorry, I don’t have lots pictures of the clinic since I was participating in the clinic. To make it up to you, I’ll try to describe the clinic as detailed as I can and promise to post another article if I get to borrow photos from Through Chito’s Lens(Chito Luna and co.). Ok, so onto the clinic proper…
Alexander made us do some warm ups (calisthenics) first then some footwork while doing punches/upper-body movements/combos inside the ring, promptly telling us tips like “guard your chin” (and sometimes saying “chin down!”), “protect your body, body shots hurt”, “the most important thing is balance” and “mix it up”. Whenever he observed us doing movements that could be corrected, he would stop us and demonstrate how it should be done. After that we were grouped by twos and were instructed to act as leader and follower in a footwork exercise that he likened to dancing. The leader would either move forward, sideways, backwards or angle out and the follower should be able to respond and mirror the move while promptly maintaining striking range (Maai or whatever term you want to use for distance). After a few back and forth sessions, the exercise was modified to allow the follower to have the chance to respond and attack. Alexander would signal the leader(s) to step-in and the follower would respond by angling out and attacking from the side. He stressed that for this exercise to be effective, the leader had to be really good at leading in order for the follower to be able to learn. For the last exercise, he made us do some sort of sparring session: we had to touch our opponent’s shoulders (to simulate an attack) and at the same time defend our shoulders. It was a fun exercise. I realized how I’ve grown with boxing with the activity. Its not much but I did make some progress.
In summary, my favourite takeaway is “always master the basics, then develop your own style”.
After the boxing clinic we were asked to fall in line for merchandise signing. Most of the items that were brought to the event were of course boxing gloves.
One of the instructors Mario “The Monster” Sismundo, a celebrity of sorts because he looks like Manny Pacquiao; the resemblance is so uncanny that Alexander even joked about it.
I forgot to bring my FitBox shirt so I was forced to use my gloves for the autograph. From now on, I have to use my gf’s gloves for practice… I sure hope they fit!
In closing, I think Alexander Gustafsson is a good guy and an awesome athlete. He taught us the best he can in a humid tropical boxing gym coming from Sweden. I wish for him to succeed and gain the UFC Light Heavyweight championship, I hope he takes that belt from Jon Jones and I’m hoping to see an awesome KO the next time they meet up in the octagon. I’ll be rooting for him!
Thank you Balls TV for bringing him to the Philippines! Thanks to the FitBox Technogym family: Roco Cruz, Gerry Azarcon, Aizza Baltazar, Chito Luna, Mario Sismundo, Jayson Rotoni, Wow Cruz, Jojo Apas.
So… when will the Korean Zombie and Edson Barbosa visit the Philippines?
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