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I read something interesting about Brendan Ingle's fighters:

Dancing turned into fighting and pretty soon Ingle, a free spirit, a maverick, the great improviser, was combining the two to concoct a boxing style all of his own, a style imprinted on each of the men he trained, from [Naseem] Hamed and [Herol] Graham to [Johnny] Nelson and [Ryan] Rhodes. Even his lumbering heavyweights boxed the same way. They were all light on their toes, in and out, masters of range and timing, each of them utterly comfortable with their hands down by their sides. They were ostensibly matadors with gloves. Hit and don’t get hit was their mantra...

"It’s all about time and patience,” he said. “I’m in charge. If they look good, I look good. It’s simple logic. If they make money, I make money. Who wants to finish up with a flat nose and cauliflower ears? People don’t realize that a few years ago I started the Sheffield, Rotherham and District Ex-Boxers Association. I came across so many people with flat noses, cauliflower ears and a croak in a voice from being punched in the throat. I wanted to do something to help them.”

Perhaps the greatest testament to the Ingle way – to be elusive, to be defensive-minded – are the coherent voices and clean faces of his retired former pupils.

For example, Hamed, though now as wide as he is tall, is just as brash and fast-talking as ever while the likes of Rhodes, Graham and Nelson have all appeared on television as pundits. What’s more, Nelson now enjoys a role as a boxing presenter on Sky Sports.
- Source

It is beyond doubt that Hamed, Nelson, Graham, and Rhodes have come out of their careers in apparent good health and still mentally sharp. It is at least plausible to suggest that Ingle's style - i.e., hit and don't get hit, using reflex and head, body, and leg movement to avoid punches rather than trying to absorb or block them with gloves - might have something to do with this.

Is there any reason to believe that Ingle's fighters do better than average in avoiding serious, lasting damage from injuries in the ring?

  • Just to add some details about Ingle style, I hear many saying it could be done Only by Hamed, even though only one man made several men world class boxers. But many of the trainers out there do not get to make even one a world class boxer. SO I assure that his style is superior. Of course Hamed was special, but his style can be mastered at the certain level like textbook boxing is. – Shawn Apr 10 '18 at 21:13
  • Another thing to consider is the opponents those guys fought. Prince Naseem (who was mentioned in your quote), for example, notoriously only fought cans. When you have a big time trainer and manager you get set up for a lot of easier wins, and take less damage than the guys going to war with fighters on their level. – coinbird Apr 11 '18 at 15:30
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I'm not familiar with Ingle but in general: Yes, fighters who are trained explicitly with defense and mobility in mind will keep their health longer. Examples include Floyd Mayweather and many Cuban style boxers.

As dangerous as striking arts are - if you decide for yourself that defense and long term health are your priority, you will stay healthier than 90% of fighters out there. You'll make better choices in sparring partners, gyms and styles. You'll outdo everyone who's in there with the "brain damage is part of the package, oh well" mindset.

My favorite is Mike Tyson who, when he had Teddy Atlas yelling "move to their side! Get beside em!" would show amazing defensive footwork and head movement, proving that great defense doesn't exclude offense.

Stay safe!

  • Do you have evidence to support your answer? What makes you assert that Mayweather (for instance) is healthier than other, similar, boxers? – Mike P Jan 2 at 11:03
  • Hey Mike, not sure how to respond directly, hope this works. Evidence of the gist of my answer: There are plenty of athletes, gyms and perhaps even styles with little regard for athlete's health. While most gyms do parrot the 'good offense has defense built in' cliches, few emphasize or practice this sufficiently. So I'm convinced that a trainer, gym or individual athlete who trains with focus on defense and mobility is helping their health. As for Mayweather, all I know: Very long career with relatively few hits and knockdowns. – Kalle Nijs Jan 3 at 18:27

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