Recruiting Pros to Assist in Gyms

Feb. 19, 2009, 11:52 a.m. (ET)
We are missing out on the volunteer efforts of an educated group of people -- namely, female professional boxers.  Professional boxers are masters of their craft, they can model a strong work ethic, and talk candidly with boxers about the commitment needed to succeed in the sport of boxing.  Professional boxers can serve as assistant coaches in many ways, like giving pointers, correcting form, holding mitts, and talking strategy.  Professional boxers can encourage boxers to pursue their goals, and celebrate success and improvement.  And professional boxers can help recruit boxers into the gym, since the professional meets a great number of people, on a regular basis, from all walks of life.  
Professional boxers, even if they have an amateur background, will be more comfortable in their role of assistant if they are reminded about the specifics of Olympic-style boxing.  For example, based on current rules, female Olympic-style boxers have to maximize tactics and strategies to score points, they only have 3-4 rounds of two minutes to work, they only compete once each day, and boxers can be penalized for fouling.  Once professional boxers understand some essential components of Olympic-style boxing, they can emphasize the best approach when working with boxers.  
Female professional boxers reside in virtually every city.  Some prizefighters are world champions, and some are regional journeymen.  Some are actively fighting each year, while others are semi-retired.  While their schedules may be full, most professionals are happy to make time to share their love of the sport with the next generation.  Here are a few tips to recruiting pro boxers to help with your program:
Give a proposal.  Explain the commitment, and give specific parameters.  A typical professional can donate one day each week, for 1-2 hours at a time.  
Treat the professional like a celebrity.  Respect their chosen profession.  Ask for a signed photo or poster to place on the gym wall, and help publicize their upcoming fights.  
Publicize their agreement to volunteer with an article in the gym newsletter, website, posted flyers, and/or talk to other volunteers, and to boxers about the new assistant.
Assign a gym volunteer to stay in regular communication with the professional to answer questions and coordinate efforts.  The professional boxer may know of resources for the program, or may wish to advertise an upcoming fight.  
Manage risk in the local boxing gym:
Professional boxers should be reminded not to teach elements of pro boxing that are considered fouls or poor sportsmanship in amateur boxing.  Pro tactics, such as spinning, can result in an amateur being penalized if they decide to use the tactic in a bout.
Professional boxers need to register as non-athletes with USA Boxing.  USA Boxing membership helps protect programs by providing insurance and background checks.  A person who registers as a coach may also be inclined to register as a referee, judge, timekeeper, or clerk.  Local gyms can always use registered coaches and officials.
The United States has a rich tradition of professional boxing.  We can tap into the unmined resource of female professional boxers by inviting them to register and certify as coaches and/or officials with USA Boxing.  Female professional prizefighters can work with boys, girls, men and women, by adding a personal dimension to training and competition, and assisting with the coaching efforts of other volunteers in the gym.