LIFESTYLE | SPORTS

A jab, a hook and a cross

Michelle Baltazar

In awe of Filipino boxing great Manny Pacquiao, one Sydney fan puts his gloves on and starts punching.

Wearing a blue pair of shorts and a black top, 25-year-old Sydneysider Raymond Gutierrez is practicing one of the combos being taught at a boxing gym near his office.

Jab-cross-jab-cross-slip-slip-left rib-right rib-hook-cross-hook-upper cut.

Then the class instructor, a state boxing champion, yells another combo.

Jab-cross-jab-slip-slip-slip-right upper cut-left upper cut-cross-hook-cross.

Gutierrez deftly moves slightly to the left of his sparring partner and dutifully executes the combo.

By the time the 50-minute class comes to an end, Gutierrez would have already done at least 30 sets of the cardio-intensive combos, often mixed with a series of squats, push-ups and crunches in between.

At 7pm, the class finishes. Gutierrez takes his gloves off and goes home, ready to do it all over again in a couple of days. He is one of a handful of Filipino regulars who goes to Fight Gym, a busy boxing gym in the Sydney CBD, twice a week.

“Boxing is a total body workout. I’ve done soccer and tennis but this probably gives the most complete workout and better results than any other type of sports,” he said.

Gutierrez is part of a new phenomenon that is sweeping Filipinos worldwide. Ever since Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao became a world champion, boxing became the nation’s favourite sport - dethroning basketball every time Pacquiao is in the ring.

“As soon as I started watching his fights, I sort of got into boxing. One of my colleagues told me that Fight Gym does cardio workouts. I tried the first class and enjoyed it.”

Gutierrez has been boxing for a year and a half ago and said his fitness has improved since.

“I’m not here for a serious training regime but more to balance my work,” he explained, referring to his day job as a quantitative analyst for one of the major banks.

“I’m also learning the technique - learning how to punch properly," he said.

"Not that I want to hurt anybody.”

Pacquaio would be proud.

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