By: Vinny Cappuccitti
Boxing… The sweet science… The squared circle… Whatever you want to call it, boxing has been an intricate part of my life.
You could go as far as saying that boxing is my life. That’s how important it is to me. From day one, boxing has been a fundamental part of my life…as basic and essential as walking and talking. Let me elaborate on that. My father, Danny was a nationally-ranked boxer, fighting at middleweight. Along his journey of amateur boxing , he won very many prestigious awards and received accolades from his peers in the squared circle. To this day, my father still boxes and trains every single day of his life. You can imagine how important and dear he holds boxing to himself. So, like most young boys do, they gravitate to their fathers. Whether it’s wanting to shave alongside of them, dress like them or follow them in their business footsteps or line of work. Furthermore, in some cases, even follow them in their social activities and hobbies. Fortunately enough for me, my father’s passion was boxing, hence my passion became boxing. Ever since I can remember being able to walk, my father taught my older brother and I how to throw a punch. And it was not just any punch… a proper punch, with proper mechanics. We eventually learned to pack a punch that was enough to make you think twice about picking on either of one us…should we choose to use it. Ironically enough, my brother and I mostly “practiced” on each other, even to this day… with or without gloves; it didn’t really matter to us. Very fond memories of my childhood involved spending time at the boxing gym, either hitting the bag or watching my father. I would give him water in between rounds of action. He would make my two brothers and I analyze his training sessions, day in and day out. And when my father, a hulking 200+ pound man of solid muscle, would finish his grueling training, I would be assigned the task of rolling up his hand wraps. At home, my father and I would watch the latest pay per view fight whenever it was on TV. I would sometimes fall asleep because of how late in the night the main event would be on, but once that bell would ring I’d jump into action and watch eagerly! The venue for viewing the fights was and still is our basement…we had and still have a treasure trove of boxing memorabilia both in our basement and my bedroom. When I was alone with my father I’d ask him about many of his war stories. And when listening to them, I’d imagine with vivid detail how the scenarios would play out in my mind. In the end, my father was always the victor and hero. I idolize my father, so it’s a no brainer that I wanted to put on a set of gloves and actually train for real. Growing up I was bullied a lot in school. So this made me a shy and apprehensive kid. My life was a living torture day in and day out. For some reason, I was unable to stand up for myself. It became so bad, that my mother talked about me switching schools and running away from the problem. My father would have no part in it. In my family, we don’t run from our problems, we face them head on. So my father would train me when he had the time to do so. He taught me the fundamentals, the foot work, the movements. He’s engrained combinations into my brain, so much now that I can throw them in my sleep. Although the training was hard, my passion and love for the sport grew. Boxing’s a physical sport, but, in my opinion, it is much more mental. Mentally, I grew stronger and more confident with each day that I trained. Strong enough that one day when my tormentors were picking on me, I had had enough and challenged them to a fight. As everyone knows, when fights happen in middle school it is the biggest attraction to happen during recess. So as most of the school yard encircled to watch the spectacle, with my older brother in my corner, me and the young bully went toe to toe. Yes, it was a very frightening experience for me, but once I started swinging the butterflies went away. I was throwing combos like they were going out of style. I pummeled my bully so bad, he eventually submitted mid fight. This taught me a valuable lesson in my life. And it’s a philosophy I use to this day. When things get tough, buckle down, dig in your heels and come out swinging. This motto has served me, time and time again. With both success and failure! A lot of the life situations that I’ve faced, I relate them to a boxing match. If I didn’t have a physical opponent, my opponent became life. Like a good trainer does, he watches previous fights of his opponent and looks for flaws and mistakes. I would translate that to life situations. You can use the same analogies in life as you can in boxing. I’m sure everyone’s heard sayings like “Keep on swinging” “Rollin with the punches!” “Being down and out” “Stick and move” or even the terminology, one would refer to such things as a “Knock-out”. Boxing is a sport, no doubt, but it is also a way of life. Growing into my teens and early twenties, I used boxing as a different tool. After being bullied and on the receiving end of punishment, I used boxing a lot in the streets. I got into a lot of fights, mostly because I was known as the kid who was a boxer. Whether it was defending myself when challenged or if things were instigated by friends and got out of hand, everyone that knows me knows that I can handle myself pretty well. Some would even go as far as nicknaming me Rocky. Oddly enough, due to my deep Italian voice I even sound like him. I took that as a huge compliment. Boxing would sometimes work in my favor and sometimes it would work against me. None the less, I never stopped loving or practicing it. When I got suspended from school my father would give me the option to go to work or to go train at the gym. What do you think I would choose? When in my days of trouble I would use boxing as a gauge. When I noticed my life getting out of hand, I would go to the gym and train to try and keep myself sane and out of trouble. And, if I was partying too much, I’d go to the gym and box to see how bad of shape I was in. When my life went off track, what do you think was there to save me? That’s right. BOXING! Not only does it keep your body in killer shape, it also keeps you mentally sharp and mentally tough. And, in my opinion, for living a successful and happy life, you must possess these attributes. Boxing has taught me a lot about life and myself. To be good in boxing, you need many things. But it taught me mostly about hard work, dedication and discipline. When I look back, when my life was out of tune, guess what else was out of tune? So my training in boxing would translate over to my life. When I wasn’t training as hard as I could’ve been, and I wasn’t doing all the essentials of boxing training, my everyday life began to suffer. Boxing to me is like a religion. Thus making the gym my church. Some people worship Gods, I worship fighters. I found that as my life progressed, so did my love and passion for boxing. I began to get involved with fight stats, as well as learning the history of boxing and certain boxers. Being Italian obviously I would favor the Italian greats like Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Willie Pep, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Arturo Gatti, to name a few. I would watch endless fights and training techniques by the greatest of all times on YouTube. Something I do even to this day! I’ve had the benefit of being trained by an assortment of bona fide professionals and world champions. Not only was I a disciple to these great men, I have the privilege of saying they are my dear friends. Now at 25 years old, I’m fortunate to say I train every day at Lanna MMA, and I practice my boxing as much as I can. I use road work as a form of meditation, and getting in touch with my inner thoughts as well as a form of reflection. Every week my father and I go back to the same old boxing gym we did my whole life, and we train together. Sometimes we’d work out simultaneously or sometimes he’d train me just like old times. And even to this day, when I get the opportunity, I’ll sit and watch my idol train, watching the tricks of the trade performed by a seasoned vet. This occurrence is the highlight of my week. Those sweet Sunday afternoons in the back room of the gym, where you hear the sounds of skipping ropes purr, the heavy bag being wailed upon and the speed bag as if it was a roulette table. Every day I live my passion and learn something new about my passion. How lucky of a man am I? When I reflect back on it, it seems that every single aspect of my life involves boxing. And if you ask me, I wouldn’t want to change a thing! Some people ask me how I can be involved with such a brutal sport. If you ask me, boxing is poetry in motion. It takes a certain kind of person to want to fight and train in such an engagement. Some see total brutality, I see endless beauty. What’s more natural and primal than mano a mano? Will vs. Will? Skill set vs. skill set? Such a thing of beauty! I’m glad my father decided to take up boxing for a passion. Because if he didn’t, who knows where I would be right now? But I know, wherever that may be, it probably wouldn’t involve such an important aspect of my life. My life would be empty. A normal person wouldn’t choose boxing as a love, but then again boxers and fighters aren’t normal people…they are a different breed of warriors. I know I sound like I’m talking about a relationship, but in a way, boxing has been for me. I would sometimes pick boxing over girlfriends or dates. Or, if my love life was in trouble, I’d go to the gym and train. Not a day goes by when boxing isn’t on my mind. Love it or hate it. Boxing is very important to me. This is what boxing means to me.