Tuesday, 7 September 2010

My Mate Dave: 'El Gringo Loco'

'The reasonable man adapts to his surroundings, the unreasonable man adapts his surroundings to suit him." - George Bernard Shaw

Ordinary people doing ordinary things. Thats what its about. These 'ordinary every day' people have every reason not to do what they do. But they choose a different path, to go beyond and challenge their comfort zones. To grow a little, inspiring others along the way.

Meet Dave Rogers, a father, a husband and entrepreneur, also known as 'El Gringo Loco'.

El Gringo Loco

Cj: Hi Dave, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule. Recently you competed in your first white collar boxing competition. Tell me how you got involved in that?

Dave: CJ , first of all it is an honor to be interviewed by you, thank you. I became involved with boxing, first by using kettlebells to lose weight(weighed about 225lbs when I started Kettlebell) and then by reading a book “White Collar Boxing” by Jonathan Ogden. I immediately fell in love with Kettlebells, because in 20 minutes 3x per week, I could get a weight resistance, cardio and core workout. Also, I could do this in my home. I lost 20lbs my first 6 weeks.

Once I started researching Kettlebell workouts and practitioners, I found Kettlebell for combat DVD’s on the web, as well as Kettlebell for combat video’s on YouTube. I bought a heavy bag for my garage, and at the same time found threw reading John Ogden’s book, that not only did I love Kettlebells and hitting the heavy bag, but it could lead to a goal of participating in a white collar fight, in front of a live audience. I also learned thru initially hitting the heavy bag and trying to jump rope, that this is INTENSE exercise, and I had much work to do. I then bought a speedbag, double end bag, and treadmill for my garage. After 3 months of training, and getting my weight to 180 lbs from 225lbs, I decided to go to a boxing gym and workout.

My initial training session were brutal. It took many private lessons and much encouragement from the staff and boxers at Jabb Boxing in Chicago to continue. After 3 months, I started sparring with my trainer. He was very nice it turns out, and went light on me. In the beginning, the reality of boxing was extremely overwhelming. My trainer was in much better shape, good hit me at will, and could dodge my punches and attacks with ease. However, I found another beginner, and we decided to spar. We made a pact, that we would go light. At the end of the second round, after I felt good because I was hitting him with my jab, he threw a looping overhand right that landed square on my temple, and out went the lights. I fell into the ropes and they stopped the sparring session. I was depressed, and became afraid to get back in ring, as I had a terrible habit of dropping my hands. I slowly quit going to the boxing gym and then stopped altogether for 3 months. I was depressed, and felt defeated.

I was still working out, and was helping a friend train for a natural bodybuilding show, and thru our conversations he said, “You need to go back to boxing and train and do that fight”. After his bodybuilding show I did just that. This time I was much smarter, and only sparred with trainers or guys in the gym I knew.

Cj: How did you prepare for the fight?

Dave: I did much preparation for the fight. I sparred and trained technique with my trainer 3x per week, lifted weights with light reps once per week, did a conditioning workout once per week with Burpees and Kettlebell, and ran 3 to 4x per week. In my sparring, my trainer picked people for me to spar whom were 6’3 to 6’5, because my opponent was 6’4. The training was the most grueling training I ever thought I could possibly go thru. As the fight drew closer, I added to the intensity by doing hill runs, and having 3 or 4 “gym wars” where I sparred extremely hard with other gym members, which resulted in 3 different periods of black eyes, and 1 period of severly bruised ribs. Also, when my training was going poorly, I would seek out advice from the pros in the gym(Jabb Boxing www.jabbboxing.com) and several seasoned amateur fighters. Also, 2 weeks from the fight, I did meditation and tai chi exercises for 1 hour per day, EVERY day. This calmed me in sparring, and helped me deal with the anxiety of the unknown. I WAS REALLY GOING TO DO THIS.

Cj: I understand that you have a family and run a business, how did you juggle all your commitments with your training?

Dave: I sat down with my wife, and told her that I was going to have to give up an entire summer, and that meant spending time with her and my six year old daughter. My boxing gym was 1-2 hours drive each way, depending on traffic, so juggling that with job and family commitments was the most difficult part of training to do this.

Cj: Did you ever think - "Why the hell am I doing this?"

Dave: CJ, many, many times I said “Why am I doing this”? The first time I went (5) 3 mintues rounds of hard sparring with my trainer, I would say, why am I doing this. Once I was sparring a 26 year old, 6’5 guy from Sweden, and he was killing me with his jab/cross. I really had doubts, until the gym owner came over during the session and yelled, “Slip his jab, get inside and rough him up to the body”. This was a major turning point, because I was thinking what the hell am I doing this for?

Cj: What kept you going?

Dave: What kept me going was the support of the gym, the people I have told publicly that I was doing the fight, and daily communication with my friend from NY, whom had competed in powerlifting and bodybuilding. This individual knew about sacrifice, and helped me stay motivated. His name is Phil Sichhart. I had always been a sports fan, and a boxing fan. I really wanted to make my dream of being a participant vs.being a paying customer at a boxing match come true. My father was a HUGE boxing fan growing up, and we always watched the fights on TV together. He passed away 11 years ago, and the fight was on August 19th, his birthday. That really kept me going. Also, knowing a journey of this nature had to have benefits on the other side. My wife was extremely supportive, and I even had my daughter shout encouragement while training in the garage at home. Once during a grueling heavy bag session she yelled “ Give him a bloody nose Daddy, knock him out Daddy”! That was inspirational.

Cj: What was the hardest part about the preparation and training?

Dave: The hardest part was the sparring 3x per week, and the injuries incurred, and driving up to 3 hours every evening in addition to the 2 hours I spent at the gym. I love the atmosphere of the gym. Also, getting enough rest was difficult, because my job demands some travel and working late a few days a week, preparing for customer meetings ect.

Cj: What would you have done differently?

Dave: That is a tough question. I think being more courteous to my wife, as the stress of the job, upcoming fight, and the training and diet necessary definitely made me very moody.

Cj: How did you prepare mentally coming up to the fight - were you nervous?

Dave: I listened to positive affirmation and guided imagery tapes every night, before going to bed. I also tried to stay calm, and meditate. The meditation 2 weeks before the fight was crucial. Also, I took some satisfaction that I was in the best shape I could be in, given the circumstances of my age(44) and the fact that I had a family and a very demanding job. Plus I had a great trainer, whom knew how to calm me and get the best out of me, Carlos Castaneda. My buddy from NY flew in and stayed with me 2 days before the fight, another friend made me a positive imagery tape, describing exactly how the fight would go. I listened to this every night as well for a week. My friend of 25 years came up from Indianapolis to go to fight, and was there pre-fight. I really had a great team.

Cj: Talk me through your experience on fight night, you know, the walk from the dressing rooms to the ring. To the sound of the first bell sounding. Did it live up to your expectations?

Dave: Fight night was very exciting. I was the 5th of 15 fights, which was good. I met my opponent, we talked, and that put me at ease. It was his first fight two, and we wished each other luck. I sat in a room upstairs in the venue, with all the other fighters. It was everything I hoped it would be, it was me preparing to fight in front of an audience, and I had 30 friends and family all sitting ringside together. I hit the mitts and started warming up during the middle of the 3rd fight. My buddy from NY, Phil said to me right before we walked out for the fight: “ Remember all the times in your life you have been put down and hit, and had to take it, TONIGHT YOU GET TO HIT BACK. Now stay focused and remember your training” My entrance music was Street Fighting Man by the Rolling Stones. Getting in the ring, having my gloves checked and talking to the referee was surreal. I told myself, now is the time to have fun. The owners of the boxing gym all told me guys get so nervous they cannot perform. I tried my best to stay calm.

Once the fight started, I slipped his right jab, came inside, hit him with a couple jabs, a right cross to the body and a left hook, and he went down 15 seconds into the fight. My adrenaline spiked, like WOW, he is going to be pissed. The second exchange was almost exactly the same and he went down again. Round 2 I knocked him down again with a left hook. Then, with a punch I had really been taught by one of the pro’s at JABB, one week before the fight, and my regular trainer, I hit him with an uppercut when he lunged in, and he went back and his eyes roll in his head. The fight was stopped, and I could not believe I had won.

Cj: What tips would you give someone who was thinking of training to compete at White Collar Boxing?

Dave: My tips would be, spar 3x per week, with one of those being intense. Make sure you are in shape, you must train for 3 months, even though the fight goes so fast, have a trainer you REALLY TRUST, and meditate so you can execute come fight night. Finally, as hard as it is to do, try to enjoy the experience, without too much attachment to the outcome. I decided that 1 week before my fight, that win/lose or draw, I wanted living out my dream to be fun.

Cj: Which Boxer, present or past, inspired you most while you were training?

Dave: 2 boxers: Muhammad Ali and Roberto Duran. Ali, because of his quote: “The fight is not won in front of the crowd or the bright lights, but on the lonely roads running and in the gym hitting the heavy bag, when no one is looking. Also Duran, because of his toughness. Boxing is a tough sport, and it definitely takes a certain mindset, that I am still working to obtain.

Cj: I've seen the massive transformation in you over the years to this point Dave and I think its inspiring, whats next for El Gringo Loco?

Dave: My goal was to do a White Collar Boxing match, then learn Brazilian Jui Jitsu. 5 days after the fight I joined the Uflacker BJJ Academy, and still plan to box 1 to 2 times per week, in addition to BJJ. Who knows, maybe I will do one more fight, Yikes.

Cj: Dave, keep up the good work and thanks for speaking to us. Any last words?

Dave: CJ, as you know, you were the catalyst for all of this, with your visit to the states, and getting me started on Kettlebell. I am honored to call you a friend, and thank you for starting me on this journey. Cheers, Dave

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