Eye of the Tiger

The Mental Benefits of Boxing


Most people see boxing as a violent and competitive sport, which isn’t wrong. You may picture a scene from Rocky of Sylvester Stallone taking punch after punch to the face for half of the fight, before turning it around at the last minute and laying a beatdown onto his opponent. You may see the flashing lights and the blood splatter as a boxing glove smashes its way through the enemy’s chest, but that doesn’t exactly show the whole picture.

As strange as it may seem to those outside of the boxing circle, many see it as an amazing way to calm down and relax. Boxing is a great way for these people to release tension and anxiety in a fun, constructive and sometimes destructive, way. At the Carolina Boxing Club, and at the Battle Boxing Gym, boxers of all sizes and walks of life can meet and find a way to escape from their daily stresses.

Exercise and physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels in people of all ages, and this has been confirmed by studies from Healthline and the American Heart Association. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, improves the body’s ability to use oxygen and transport blood throughout your body, greatly increasing the efficiency of your heart as well as your brain. Your brain also releases endorphins during exercise, which is a neurotransmitter that creates a sense of well-being or even “euphoria,” and is responsible for the “runner’s high.” Quick, repetitive motions during exercise also help to clear your mind and essentially replicate the benefits of meditation while performing these motions. On top of all of this, having better physical health often correlates directly with having better mental health and allows your body to deal with stress and anxiety more efficiently.

One of the largest boxing gyms in Columbia, the Battle Boxing Gym, run by Kevin and Kashima Brown, is home to almost a thousand boxers and members each week. The owner, Kevin, first joined a gym when he was 19, out-of-shape and struggling with self-confidence issues. When he first started boxing, it was scary, as it is for almost anyone trying something new like this. You’re never quite sure how you’re going to feel, how you’re going to respond when you get hit. But the more and more you do it, the more your brain and your body adapt and, soon enough, Kevin fell in love with the sport. He was in awe of the physicality the sport required, and eventually stayed in that gym for seven years. He later opened up a gym in Anderson, South Carolina, and moved his headquarters to Columbia after he married. Now, he works to help his clients not only learn how to box, but to help them grow as individuals, both mentally and physically, and help them create friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime. 

Naomi is a local 15-year-old who regularly comes to the gym to work out. She originally came because she struggled with bullies and self-confidence growing up and wanted to grow stronger so she could defend herself. For her, this gym acts as a way to become stronger, but it’s also helped her stress and given her friendships with the other members there. Alexander is a 27-year-old man who attends regularly and has recently been competing in official matches in his weight class. Alexander was suffering from confidence issues and mental health struggles, as well as the struggle after his mother died two years prior. He came to the gym looking to lose weight and get healthier, and he quickly fell in love with boxing. Since he joined, boxing has helped him with his self-confidence, as well as helping him express his emotions, both joy and grief, in a positive way. The gym has also given him the family and friends that he needed in his life. “Coach is one of my best friends. Everybody here gets along and everybody can help and learn from each other. We’re very family-oriented, and everyone loves everyone here.”

The Carolina Boxing Club serves as the bridge between the Battle Boxing Gym and students here at  UofSC. They are a club that hosts practices at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 pm, and most of the equipment can be provided to you. The dues are $150 a semester, but it gives you the opportunity to be healthier, both physically and mentally, manage your stress and anxiety and even create lasting friendships.