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Left Hook


1. Reprinted with kind permission of Time Out. © Issue Nº 1638, page 30.

Boxing training demands that you strike a pose--but Enzo Giordano’s classes are definitely not for posers. Based at ramshackle premises in Islington, first impressions are not good. Don’t be put off though: walking in with the man himself is like stepping on to a film set. The lights flick on to reveal a huge room with battered bags hanging in rows, a boxing ring, a rickety weights machine and an intriguing collection of posters covering the walls.

A super-middleweight contender not so long ago, Giordano has been running the club for six years. He began teaching at women’s gyms in south London but ended up sticking with this one place where he operates three days a week.

Throwing punches, I soon discovered is a remarkably addictive. But, as this is boxing training rather than the sport itself, none of the blows ever land on someone else’s nose. Beginners should arrive early so that Enzo can demonstrate, with the skill of a former pro, how to wrap the bandages which serve as protection for your hands and wrists. He then demonstrates the basic stance and key punches: jabs, crosses, hooks and upper-cuts. These are the essentials; everything else is practice. The class lasts 90 minutes, but it usually goes on longer as people lose track of time.

The warm-up a run round the block or a stint on the skipping ropes is followed by circuit training. Working with a partner, you complete all the stations: sparring in the ring, medicine ball, pads, weights and hammering blows on various punchbags. The session finishes with a bout on sit-ups and press-ups. This is a team effort everyone has to shout the count. I left dirty, smelly and utterly exhilarated. Sure, this is exercise but not as anyone at a swanky gym would know it. (JE)

2. Reprinted with kind permission of Time Out. © Nº 1534, page 33.

I haven’t intentionally hit anyone since I was a child. Little Johnny thug would shout ‘Bundle!’ and within seconds I’d be at the bottom of a pile of hammering limbs belonging to my older brother and his mates. At this stage, with the breath squeezed out of me, I’d devise a two-pronged strategy. First I’d curl up, foetus-like, to stave off the punches. Then, finding an opening, I’d flail wildly until I escaped.

Put in the ring for three rounds, I found myself doing much the same thing (bar the biting and kicking). ‘Relax,’ said trainer Enzo Giordano—a genuine super-middleweight contender—from the ropes. ‘Your shoulders are very tense.’ Well, I’d thought ‘boxing training’ was another name for ‘boxercise.’ But here I was, all padded up with gloves hanging off my arms, trying to cut, jab and thrust with the best of them. First, I did the foetus curl, then found an opening and flailed (too) wildly until the bell went and I was allowed out. Childhood, it scars you for life.

Actually, the aims are control, focus and fitness rather than beating someone to a pulp. The punches don’t hurt, you’re aiming for the body (never the head), and there were almost as many women as men taking part. Anyway, the rest of the session is basically circuit training on a boxing theme. You work with a partner on skipping, jabbing at the punchbag, tricep dips, upper cuts, weights, shadow boxing, throwing co-ordinated punches against the hand pads—four jabs, left right left right, upper cut, upper cut, duck. Then it’s half an hour of group floor exercises: press-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, squeezing your muscles until they can’t take any more, then doing another 20 for good measure. And another 10 after that.

Everyone in Enzo’s class was friendly and helpful, offering tips on footwork, stance and movement. A beginner can even turn up early for a run through the basic routines. For me personally, it brings back too many stifling memories, but towards the end of my first session I could see the appeal. Looking around the room, I envied the skill, the co-ordination and the means to channel aggression. In the ring, your attention is wholly on blocking, looking for an opening, trying to get a punch on target, anticipating your opponent’s next move. It’s a workout that promotes the sharpness of mind as well as body. Emma Perry.

Boxing London is a London-based boxing gym that offers expert and friendly boxing training to everyone.

For more details contact Enzo on 07956 293768 or email

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