Life on both sides of the fence: Jimmy Tibbs Q&A
We hope you enjoyed Paul Zanon's interview with Jimmy Tibbs in the October edition of our magazine. As an 'added extra', Luca Rosi went in search of some further insights from the legendary East London boxing trainer…
BM: A chief executive has to make tough business calls. In your case, someone’s life could be on the line. How do you keep cool under such intense pressure?
JT: Experience plays a major part in any decision making. I was a fighter and have now been a trainer for over three decades, so I’ve seen things from both sides of the fence. I know how a fighter can get into trouble in the ring and how as a trainer I can get them out of it.
BM: Dealing with different individuals – how do you adapt your approach?
JT: Every fighter is different. Treat each individual differently. Some have quicker breaking points and some need to be reined in before they burn themselves out. Being aware of how far to push the individual is very important. You also need to gauge the fighter’s frame of mind.
BM: Boxing is a serious business that demands total commitment. How do you get the best out of your fighters?
JT: It’s a two-way street with fighters. Both parties need to trust each other implicitly. The fighter needs to have total confidence in the trainer – not just in training, but also listening when to rest, which is equally important.
BM: What do you tell your fighters in between rounds?
JT: We’ve only got about half a minute to get our message across, so I’m looking at the fighter during the rounds and am prepared with what I need to say the second they get back to the corner.
BM: What motivational tactics do you use?
JT: They’ve already been motivated before getting in that ring. By the time the bell rings, they know they’ve got to get in there and do their job. Rarely will my fighters be tired as they’ve been prepared physically and mentally to give 110%.
BM: If you were to pick one life lesson, what would that be?
JT: You can’t put a young head on old shoulders. You’ve always got to be guided by someone with experience, whatever game you’re in. Whether you’re a businessman or a sportsman, you’ve got to be guided.
BM: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
JT: Put the hours in and work as hard as you can. As the late Mickey Duff [former boxing promoter, manager and matchmaker] said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
[Special thanks to Paul Zanon, who collaborated with Jimmy’ on his autobiography, ‘Sparring with Life’].