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Nathan Cleverly

Nathan Cleverly

Nathan Cleverly
Danielle de Wolfe
23 October 2012

David Haye and Dereck Chisora might have done their best to fumblingly tarnish its reputation in the past, but British boxing is actually in decent health. Wales’ WBO light middleweight world champion Nathan Cleverly (who even has a maths degree to fall back on) is just one of a number of exciting UK fighters taking on the world. He’s currently preparing to fight Ryan Coyne in Los Angeles next month – if he can get through his hill training…

What’s the toughest element of your pre-fight training?

The hill runs. There are a few hills near me and we do a set of 10 reps sprinting up each hill. It’s demanding on the lungs and I’ve come close to throwing up a few times. I try to do two a week. The rest of my training is based around five-mile runs. It’s just a matter of mixing it up.

What are the oddest training methods you’ve employed?

My dad, who is also my trainer, has put on some high platform shoes [in training]. It’s for the pad work to replicate what it’ll be like if I’m facing a taller fighter. It’s strange, but it does help. They’re disguised quite well and look like normal boots despite the fact that there’s a six-inch heel in each one. But when he first wore them half the battle was keeping a straight face [laughs].

Have you ever accidentally caught or injured your dad while sparring?

A few years ago I caught him a few times and chipped one of his front teeth. He forgave me and he encourages me to open up on him and let a few power punches go. It is difficult. I’m not a big fan of doing it, but sometimes it’s been my only option so I’ve had to do it that way.

What’s your most valuable workout?

Sparring is important because that’s the closest you get to a fight. But strength and conditioning is also vital. I’d recommend getting the kettle bells out – it’s good for your core. I do a lot of abdominal work as well as lower-back exercises. Try holding yourself in a plank position for those. Sledgehammer work [hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer] is good as you’re bringing power all the way from your legs and using your lower back.

Have you ever done any Rocky-style meat-punching?

Not quite that, but I think it’s nice to always have a Rocky element to your training because it is boxing. My favourite thing is going for a run very late at night – at about midnight. I go along a trail that’s very dark, so I follow the road but only by the white lines I can see by my feet. I just put my music on, pull my hood up and that gets me in the zone. I do my training later in the day – I’m nocturnal.

Do you ever do anything special to lose weight?

Every so often I’ll put a special sweat suit on. I don’t go overboard because it can dehydrate you. But occasionally, normally in the last couple of weeks before the weigh in, I’ll put it on.

Is there a psychological trick that helps you get through a particularly tough gym session?

It’s getting to the venue that’s the hardest bit. Once you’re in the right environment everything will be all right, so it’s just a matter of getting there.

What food will you be binging on after the fight?

You have to sacrifice so much as a boxer. I absolutely love Chinese takeaways and they have to go while I’m training. I’ll definitely be having a few of them.

Do you use any special recovery techniques, such as ice baths?

Not really. On the odd occasion I’ll have a cold shower just to get the blood circulating quickly. But it’s more recovery shakes and anything to get the electrolytes back in your body. Maybe a protein shake or body fuel.

What music gets you in the zone?

Before I go to the gym I tend to put a few songs on in the house. It’s got to be upbeat to get the vibes going. I like Akon, Sean Paul and any music with a good beat – party music to put me in a good mood.

Nathan’s killer tip

The start of a day’s training is so important and I’ve learned that a breakfast always helps massively. It sounds boring, but I always get the best benefits from a bowl of porridge. It’s a slow-burning carb and I find that very beneficial.

Cleverly vs Coyne is live on BoxNation, 10 Nov;

(Image: Rex Features)