On breathing: the Boxer's wind

From ‘Boxing’ (1910) A. J. Newton, Lightweight Amateur Champion 1888 and 1890

Wind of Upmost Importance

In the ordinary way the care of the “wind” would come in as an item in the chapter on “Training”; but in boxing the possession of a long and strong wind is so essential that I have given it a special chapter.

Lung Training

To be trained “fit” for any branch of athletics implies that the wind is sound, but a man may be quite sound of wind without having had his lungs trained and improved as they might be. 

There are many exercises which specially strengthen the chest and breathing apparatus of the body, and I give a few here which every boxer will do well to include in his routine.

 Breathing Exercises

Every morning on getting out of bed, before taking your tub or washing, open the bedroom or bathroom window wide, and standing in front of it expel as much air from your lungs as possible, letting it out through the mouth. When you have breathed out as much as seems possible, draw in the abdomen, and you will find that you can still get out a little more, until for a moment quite a pained feeling comes in the chest.

Then inhale through the nose, keeping the mouth shut, as long a breath as you can. When you seem unable to inhale any more, raise your elbows to a level at the sides with your shoulders, and work them gently down like a pair of wings, still trying to draw in air, when you will find you can manage to breathe in just a little more. Hold breathe not more than a second, and then exhale through the mouth, and completely exhaust as before by drawing in the abdomen.

Quality not quantity

At first three breaths such as this, deliberately drawn, will suffice, adding an extra breath each day until six are inhaled every morning. During the course of the day at odd moments, when out of doors, such a breath may now and again be taken.

If about six others during the rest of the day are thus inhaled, making twelve in all, it will be quite sufficient.

The Boxer’s Clothing

For practice, tennis shoes, or even stockings, with a gym shirt, and flannel trousers, make a very useful costume. But for competitions I can do no better than to quote the rules laid down on the subject by the Amateur Boxing Association. You must wear “light boots or shoes (without spikes), or socks, with knickerbockers, breeches, or trousers, and sleeved jerseys”.