Manny Pacquiao is in training for his summer blockbuster fight against Keith Thurman, billed as Welterweight Supremacy superfight for the WBA Welterweight championship. The fight will take place on July 20, 2019 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The thing is, his opponent who is more than 10 years younger than Manny. We caught up with the legendary boxer to learn more about his training practices.
1. Take care of your body.
Being an elite athlete doesn’t just happen in the gym. You’re an athlete on and off your workout days. This means practicing discipline and diligence in the practices that make you both mentally and physically tougher.
2. Focus year round.
Manny points out that there’s a reason guys like Tom Brady and him perform so well even though they’re over 40. They never let go, burdening themselves with having to “get back in shape”. They stay fit and ready year-round so intense training is for gains, not making up for lost time.
3. Stay Hungry.
“Some guys win a championship or have a little success and they start to cruise,” says Manny, but you have to remember why you train and commit to getting better, faster, stronger. Always stay curious about how far you can really go and willing to push yourself to get farther than you think possible.
4. Always put on a show for the fans.
Manny acknowledges “If you want to build a fanbase in boxing, you've got to be an exciting fighter.” Part of your sport is for you, part of it is for other people. This means shaking things up occasionally or pushing yourself for the dramatic move. It means not giving up if you fall behind, because you know crowds cheer harder for the big comeback.
5. Take risks.
This keeps you from getting stale, but it also keeps things interesting for the fans. Try new moves, new plays, stay creative. No, it won’t always work, but you’ll learn and refine your play.
6. Cross train.
Manny stays in shape by playing basketball and jogging—two sports that he enjoys, but also hone skills needed in the ring. When you’re training in your sport, try practicing a second one and watch the benefits. If you’re a basketball player, consider dancing to sharpen space and footwork skills. If you’re a runner, don’t forget the flexibility brought by yoga. The best bodies are the ones that are ready or anything.
7. Have the right gear.
This is crucial. It keeps you safe, and at the elite level, the correct gear can better your times by up to 20%. Consider getting professionally fit for your athletic shoes. You can have your gait tested, consulting with professionals on the needs of your sport and the physical tendencies of your body. Some shoe companies will help you create custom shoes, but having an expert weigh in on your gear will go a long way, even before you customize.
8. Carefully watch your nutrition.
This might sneak up on you. You work so hard training, you may appear more able to eat what you like without adverse effects. But just because you’re performing well doesn’t mean you’re performing your best. Golden State Warriors’ power forward Draymond Green famously lost 25 lbs before the 2019 NBA finals by taking up Soul Cycle and giving up Cheetos, Snickers, wine, and tequila. His post-season performance put him in the triple-double company of greats like LeBron James and Magic Johnson.
9. Train as part of a team.
Elite athletes need more support than they can achieve on their own. Whether your sport is a team sport or based on individual performance, get help from experts and leverage your community for motivation. See a professional nutritionist, optimize your performance with a professional trainer and with sports physicians. Invest in a good coach and practice with people on your level. The old saying that “iron sharpens iron” is especially true in training for a sport.
10. There is never a substitute for hard work.
Superstar athletes that have come to watch Pacquiao train always say, "I've never seen someone work that hard for 3-4 hours straight." No amount talent, of elite equipment, no hacks or tricks or optimizations can ever replace showing up every day no matter how you feel and working harder than you think you can. Often, what separates the talented from the successful is the willingness to show up every day and do the work.
Want to cheer Manny on with once-in-a-lifetime access to his entourage? Get up close and personal with the boxer by spending 3 days with his team in Las Vegas for this fight. Donate to the Pacquiao Foundation to enter the sweepstakes.