• Sarah

Sudcabox: Box La Paz - Train With Champions

Updated: Feb 29

Mean, moody and scary? Actually professional, fun and easy to work with

Let me tell you an inspirational story. Everybody loves one of those, right?

One day while dashing to the supermarket over the road from work to grab some lunch, I saw a colleague carrying some boxing gloves.

“Hello,” I say. “You do boxing?”

“Yes!” she said. “We have a club at the company, didn’t you know?”

I didn’t know, but I thought maybe that punching things would help me deal with stress.

It turned out that several of my colleagues, back in London, had come to the same conclusion.

Classes were run at lunchtimes by our colleague in accounts, Marlon, who was on his own transformational journey - studying for various sport and exercise qualifications, on top of his full-time job. They were brilliant. He is brilliant.

But this isn't about him; this is about finding an equally brilliant boxing gym in La Paz.

Why Boxing (Boxeo)?

I have to confess to knowing barely anything about the sport of boxing. I only know who Anthony Joshua is because our free evening newspaper in London, The Evening Standard, published an interview with him once.

On a double page spread, mostly filled with his naked (because of course, boxing) and deliciously-ripped torso. His face is beautiful too, in case you wondered. It was a surprise to turn the page and be confronted with such an image, but as you can imagine his name has stuck in my mind. Ahem. Anyway...

I’ve never been interested in the sport of boxing, or any kind of physical fighting. But once I started punching pads, this fierce Wench emerged from nowhere, and I forgot I was actually doing exercise.

While I may be currently unfit and definitely carrying around far too much taco belly, those twice-weekly HIIT boxing sessions worked miracles on my body. They also had a positive impact on my mental health, helped me focus better at work and, perhaps best of all, gave me confidence that I could achieve things. If I could survive those gruelling sessions, I could survive anything.

You could no doubt get the same effect with other forms of exercise but I discovered I really, really like punching things 🥊 I’m willing to do any amount of evil exercises, just so I get to do the punching bit. It’s amazing fun!

And it is, indeed, very good for stress.

Boxing In La Paz BCS

I was prodded into getting my act together to start again when Grumpy Jock and I attended La Paz’s Desfile del Día de la Revolución de México, which, as well as featuring sporting champions and seemingly every school from the state, had BCS’s sports clubs showing off their skills.

For the Revolution Day Parade, every sports club, school and civic department puts in an appearance. Here we see the highly-skilled firefighters demonstrate their acrobatic abilities

Sudcabox impressed with their display. I did some research and figured they seemed like a good outfit. A quick and friendly reply to my Facebook messages revealed that the gym is open for sessions on the hour from 7am - 9am and 4pm to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Situated on the corner of Adolfo Lopez Mateos and Cuahutemoc, Sudcabox has a large, airy facility with good equipment: a ring, pads, bags, mats, skipping ropes and a fierce stereo. You need to bring your own water, towel and hand wraps but it does have a toilet with a sink.

If you are sticking around in La Paz, or can buy gloves and leave them behind for others, bringing your own gloves is preferable. They do have some to lend people, but they are well used and all the regulars bring their own. On one particularly busy session I had to borrow the trainer’s own gloves, which I felt kinda bad about. I didn’t like other people using mine back in London.

Mrs Wench prepares to fell her nemesis. Or at least, work off some stress and tacos!

Those gloves get sweaty.

Sudcabox Weekly Routines

The trainers, led by head trainer Jorge Elbitachy Martinez, focus on boxing skills on Mondays and Wednesdays. The format is similar to other non-contact boxing training sessions I’ve attended. A thorough warm-up is followed by shadow boxing, skipping and quick, intense sessions punching bags using sequences of punches. These are sometimes interspersed with running and bob-and-weave practice under a rope. Sometimes - especially if Jorge is in charge - you get a one-on-one or two-on-one session with a trainer and the pads.

There is also pairwork, where you try and tap your partner’s shoulder while avoiding them tapping yours. The one who gets tapped has to do a squat. More advanced boxers practice sequences in pairs, and the most advanced spar in the ring - though, of course, you don’t have to.

The sessions end with 15 minutes of conditioning exercises such as sit-ups, Russian twists, squats, push-ups and burpees, or the ejercicio de diablo as I dubbed them.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays it’s circuit training time. Circuit stations include pad work, running, jumping onto a giant tractor tyre (or in my case, stepping up and down while wincing), practising your footwork with a plastic ladder on the floor, practicing your bob and weave, tricep dips on an even bigger tyre and many, many repetitions of the ejercicio diablo.

The Tuesday and Thursday classes I attended were either all devil exercises, or a combination of punching, footwork and conditioning, with everybody moving to a new station on the circuit every three minutes. I didn’t attend on Fridays and Saturdays.

The best thing about Sudcabox, and La Paz in general, is the people there are so welcoming and kind. My Spanish was too limited to understand all the instructions, so I either copied others or made up a sequence by myself and just went with it. But the trainers often came over to me and showed me what to do.

They also took the time to give me some top tips on my technique, including making sure I was doing the basics right - where to stand, how to move and how to punch. Jorge asked me early on what I wanted to achieve there. He also noticed me using my inhaler on one of the first nights and asked if I was asthmatic, taking that into consideration when giving me tasks to do.

An impeccable left jab - even if the pink gloves don't really look so scary

The patrons were really friendly, and offered me lifts home the first few times I went. They also showed me where to get the peseros back to Centro (just a blocks away at 5 de Febrero!) But beware if you attend a late class, they stop running by 9pm.

The advantage of going to a real boxing gym rather than a boxercise class or just a general exercise class like crossfit or circuits, is that you can learn a new skill. Not only is this useful in distracting you away from realising how tired you are, or how much it hurts, but when you see an improvement you gain a sense of achievement.

I am far from knowing how to fight, but it still gives me a bit more confidence when walking down dark streets.

Summary: Mexican Fighters - Mexican Sports

These guys are highly skilled, and have trained several champions. Many of the regulars are professional boxers and include champion fighters.

Everyone is friendly, respectful and humble. A good boxing gym won’t give a crap who you are, what you look like, what you wear or how unfit you are - only that you turn up on time.

Yes, even in Mexico this is important, because you don’t want to miss the warm-up. You listen, are respectful yourself and you give it your best shot. Alongside the champions are ordinary men, women and teenagers, some really fit, others less so. Some have been working on their taco bellies for far longer than I have, and yet they do the whole session, which just makes me think - respect.

The fact that Mexico is one of the top boxing countries in the world was actually a factor in wanting to move here. I can remember the day that Grumpy Jock looked up the boxing gyms in La Paz on Google Maps, and excitedly showed me how many there are.

Sudcabox was a great place to start, and I already miss these guys, even though our time together was short.

Thoroughly recommended 🥊

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Mexico Travel Blog | marco@jocksaway.com