The coach every boxer is looking for! During the end of the quarantine period we had the opportunity to speak to a very talented and special coach that is responsible for a bright new generations of young athletes. Coach Haniver comes from England and boxing is his life! Dive in!
JabtiJab: Can you please give us a quick synopsis of your career in boxing- from how it all started until today?
Coach Adam Haniver: Sure, but let’s start with what I’m doing today. I’m a boxing coach with a couple different roles for England Boxing, which is our country’s national boxing organization. First, I have my Amateur Boxing Club down on the south coast that I manage most nights of the week. But, I also have a full-time role working for England Boxing in a Brighton college conducting the Dise Program, which is a Sports Education diploma program for sixteen thirteen-year olds selected to study excellence in sports.
Performance-wise, I was a boxer for eleven years at the Hastings West Hill Boxing Club. I had 45 bouts as a light heavyweight under 81 kilos. I held my own in the Nationals, although I didn’t manage to win a belt, I gained invaluable experience for my educational roles today. I also have a degree in Sport Exercise Science from the University of Brighton, as well as a teaching degree that is called a Post-graduate Education Certificate.
I try to provide a very holistic approach to our sport and its application to life’s lessons. I like to make sure that everything flows naturally, so boxers have a real contextualized learning program, like the Dice Program.
Describe a typical (busy) day in Coach Haniver’s life? Each morning, I drive to Brighton and plan the daily sessions for my 16-to-18 year old boxers. The training modules are diverse, and include: (physical and mental) strength and conditioning; nutrition; lifestyle; and focusing on career. I try to provide a very holistic approach to our sport and its application to life’s lessons. I like to make sure that everything flows naturally, so boxers have a real contextualized learning program, like the Dice Program. So, I run a couple of sessions a day and then pop back home before going to work out around seven o’clock with the youth and senior boxers at my Amateur Boxing Club. Our club is proud to say that we have had a few national champions over the last few years. At the same time, we welcome a lot of beginners in our gym. All-in-all, it’s a long day. but really enjoyable, so I can’t complain.
How can boxing physically and mentally impact a young boy or girl? Does it helps develop special skills that other sports don’t? I really try to take an autonomous approach, where I try to get the boxers to learn from themselves- to think and develop by themselves, and, to take a lot of ownership and responsibility in their own development. Of course, I am here to support them. This approach, on purpose, will raise questions and challenges for them; needing the kids to use their problem solving skills. We do our best not to always problem-solve for them. It is not a good approach to constantly give them all the answers; I guess this applies outside the boxing gym, too, but we like to practice it here. There’s lots of different sorts of metaphors you can use.
If someone’s doing reps on the weights and they’re trying to do 10 reps, there’s no point in trying to do the last two reps if they’re struggling at the time- doesn’t help at all. So that’s what we are trying to do. Sort of a mindfulness approach- to tie the mental with the physical reps, knowing where they are in the moment, and making sure that they are autonomously making decisions of where they are on that moment.
We always try to invest in the person not just the boxer. If thing aren’t happy in their home life, and they don’t have that balance in their home life, then they are not going to perform well in the boxing ring. It is a thorough sport, and they need to have full attention on what they are doing. They need to realize that they need to have a balance, and that one thing about their life can affect other aspects. So, they need to learn how to adapt so other things are not affecting their preparation and performance, and maybe boxing can help them deal with other aspects of their life with this approach. We can think about real boxing icons like Mike Tyson, and even fictional boxers like Rocky Balboa and his coach, Mickie, working through life issues with their relationships in the gym and outside it. It is really important to have a trusting relationship between a boxer and a coach. And if you have trust, I believe you can go very far in the sport as a partnership.
And I will say get yourself a coach who is looking out for you as a person first. Who really, inherently and genuinely, looks after you as a person. If it is just about business, you might make money in the short-term, but you’re going to get hurt in the long-term.
What advice can you give to a boxer for a long (and possibly professional) career? Understand that learning the sport is really important; understand learning and you’re going to progress. And I will say get yourself a coach who is looking out for you as a person first. Who really, inherently and genuinely, looks after you as a person. If it is just about business, you might make money in the short-term, but you’re going to get hurt in the long-term. A good coach really needs to be helping you develop as a person first, and then as a boxer, and, yes- looking out for you when your career in the ring ends. Because at the end of the day, it is a hard sport, you can get hurt, you can’t do it forever in the ring, and so you need to think long-term about your life and where and when boxing fits into it.
Tell us about the British boxing style. What make it unique and different from others like American, Cuban or Mexican? I think it used to be that English people were sort of rigid and by-the-book. But really, now I think it’s starting to evolve, and coaches are really starting to realize that they need to involve the boxers in decisions. They need to talk to them, listen, and not just tell them what to do. So, with that in mind, I think it is really important that with British boxing we keep going with this athlete centred approach. You know, you could say that all boxers are this-and-that, and then perhaps the coaches aren’t doing their job. That’s because they are not really tapping into their personalities and are not tapping into what’s already there.
I think British boxing is really starting to be unpredictable, because you don’t really know what you’re going to get anymore. If you look at the amateur international stage, we are up there with the best of them now. We started medalling, especially in the Europeans. We’re coming in second and third often, especially in our junior and youth ranks- which is all impressive.
I think it is because we treat our boxers like individuals. So, it is really difficult to pigeonhole “what is a British boxer”. It is really hard to plan how you run a boxer against a British boxer.