Teen Health Month: Lessons from Boxing and Education
By Cormac O Donnell
As a writer for the World Boxing Council (WBC) and a pastoral middle leader in a high school, I find myself at the intersection of two distinct worlds: 1) the intense arena of boxing and 2) the nurturing environment of education. At face value, these appear to be two very separate realms.
Yet, as I go about my days immersed in both of these areas – the similarities between the two become increasingly apparent as they relate to the theme of Teen Health.
In the ring, a boxer’s mental well-being is paramount. So much of a fighter’s outcome depends on their ability to be calm in a pressure cooker environment. The punches and the jabs matter; but they need a relaxed mind to deliver them.
Similarly, within education, a teenager’s welfare is vital for their academic and personal pursuits. Students must also prioritize their mental health in order to receive information and store it effectively.
Boxing encourages discipline and perseverance—to keep pressing forward in the face of adversity; be it stamina fatigue or a challenging opponent.
In the same way, education systems foster resilience in students, equipping them with the means to surmount obstacles and emerge stronger. Whether rebounding from a defeat in the ring or overcoming academic setbacks, both areas demand tenacity and resolve.
All boxers need guidance from a coach and team through their training and bouts. They need someone to track their strength and condition, partners to spar with them and tacticians to offer advice on footwork and combinations.
In a similar fashion, teenagers lean on teachers and mentors for guidance along their journey. Educators can open up different perspectives to students, identify areas to be refined and challenge them in order to be better. Pastoral leaders and counsellors can be a sounding board for difficulties outside of the classroom – providing assistance when necessary and suggesting self-care strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Be it in the ring or the classroom – we all need someone in our corner when the bell rings to go.
Teenagers navigate a multitude of physical, emotional, and social changes, underscoring the importance of embracing healthy habits early on. As boxers adhere to stringent training routines and dietary protocols, teenagers too must prioritize exercise, nutritious meals, and adequate rest to support their ever-evolving bodies and minds.
To summarize, the parallels between boxing and education offer valuable insights into the importance of prioritizing teen health. By acknowledging the links between physical and mental well-being, we empower teenagers to lead wholesome, fulfilling lives both within and beyond the confines of the ring and classroom.