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Everything ain't for everybody
May 18, 2012 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Weak men pay this boxing coach to tell them they are terrible. Eric Kelly was a 2 time New York Golden Gloves Champion, 4 time National Champion, 2000 Olympic alternate, and 3 time Milwaukee Golden Gloves before an eye injury prevented him from competing. Today, he's a trainer at Church Street Boxing Gym in New York, coaching Wall Street bankers how to box.
posted by reformedjerk (64 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Masculinity is weird.
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 AM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


coaching Wall Street bankers how to box.

So they can take all our money and beat us up?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:30 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait, you could join this gym, and hit bankers right in the face?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:34 AM on May 18, 2012 [48 favorites]


I've never understood the attraction to "boot camp" style training. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but drill sergeants do what they do to enforce obedience and stamp out individuality, yes? So that a soldier will do as he's told in the heat of battle without question?

So how come it's desirable to have that kind of training applied to fitness? So that those undergoing the training can somehow delude themselves into thinking they're Rambo, or something?
posted by LN at 7:38 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm so entertained by this video. I would purchase a full set because it's so fun watching these assholes get cut down to size. They are awful. I bet they want to tell their friends how they box, how tough they are, etc and it is so sad and funny.

More please.
posted by discopolo at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. People tell me I'm terrible for free.
posted by Decani at 7:40 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Do you think on the days they arent at the gym they hire women to whip them and tell them how small their penises are?
posted by discopolo at 7:40 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but drill sergeants do what they do to enforce obedience and stamp out individuality, yes? So that a soldier will do as he's told in the heat of battle without question?

I don't know, there was a lot of talk of discipline. My drill sergeants specifically told us that the Army didn't want robots but rather thinking soldiers who could make informed decisions on the battlefield. YMMV, I suppose.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


So how come it's desirable to have that kind of training applied to fitness? So that those undergoing the training can somehow delude themselves into thinking they're Rambo, or something?

I'm sure there's some amount of deluding yourself into thinking you're Rambo going on for some people, but the benefits of stamping out individuality for fitness seem pretty clear. As an individual, my desire is to lie on the couch and eat Cheetos. If I pay someone to stamp out that individuality, I might actually get some exercise. Not to mention the fact that groups that use this sort of technique often produce fairly fit people (the army and sports teams both do the “have someone yell at you while running” thing, and those groups of people tend to be pretty fit)

Both the army and an unfit person wanting to be fit want to encourage discipline, adopting a boot camp style approach for fitness makes a lot of sense to me (a lazy, unfit person who has never done anything resembling a boot camp).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you think on the days they arent at the gym they hire women to whip them and tell them how small their penises are?

"You panty-boy! You take financial risks that are inappropriate for a federally insured depository institution and you have a tiny penis! Now say you love Glass–Steagall and lick my boot!" *SNAP*

Wouldn't surprise me at all.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


My drill sergeants specifically told us that the Army didn't want robots but rather thinking soldiers who could make informed decisions on the battlefield.

The Army certainly wants robots. The problem is that during the last product demo, the prototype machine-gunned a junior executive and fell down a flight of stairs.
posted by griphus at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


As we all know, head trauma will undoubtedly make these people even more rational and non-sociopathic....
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't see anything in that video that told me the guys coming for lessons were assholes, or even that they were Wall Street bankers, but I did see that Kelly guy call them nerds and homosexuals. Awesome.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, this guy gets to beat the bankers up and tell them just how terrible they are.

Wasn't that supposed to be the job of the SEC?
posted by Skeptic at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]




Wait, you could join this gym, and hit bankers right in the face?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:34 AM on May 18


I practice martial arts with the mayor of the town I live in.
Let me tell you how therapeutic that can be. I'm trying to figure out how to get more government officials involved.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]



I don't know, there was a lot of talk of discipline. My drill sergeants specifically told us that the Army didn't want robots but rather thinking soldiers who could make informed decisions on the battlefield. YMMV, I suppose.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:42 AM on May 18 [+] [!]


That's not necessarily where I'd go for an impartial, objective bird's eye view of army discipline and conformity. But with that said, what they're probably looking for is independent action on individual tasks, but unwavering loyalty on more... strategic matters.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:06 AM on May 18, 2012


When that song started playing I was so expecting to see Mac, Dennis, and Charlie show up to get some lessons.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some people just want to watch the world earn.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:20 AM on May 18, 2012


"Improvise, adapt, overcome" is not a hallmark of mindless automata.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best video, ever. And my favorite of the comments:

At first I was like this guy's a dick, then I was like, I want this guy to be the best man at my wedding.
posted by zia at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2012


This is really just an advertisement for a gym, but there's a lot to deconstruct in there. Boxing is traditionally a sport for poor men to get some scrap of prestige by fighting each other like animals in a ring. Amateur boxing, with the accompanying regulations, safety gear, etc, raised concerns that it was being watered down so that the comfortable classes could play. There's nothing new about the tensions here.

Also, amusingly, that coach talks like every boxing coach I've ever met. It's hilarious. Playful abuse and loud heckling colored a lot of the training I did, and it definitely takes a certain type of person to enjoy it. It's a much different atmosphere from what I found in martial arts dojos and self-defense/military forms. I'm sure it's not always like that, but it's amusingly true from my experience.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


My point was only that if that's what people are looking for, discipline, then it's easy to see why people want "boot camp-style" fitness programs. I don't care one way or the other if army drill sergeants are liars or not.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2012


Huh. That looks eminently safe for gender-variant people.

What if these shibboleths of abuse don't work for you, even as a motivating factor? Is the discipline-or-fuck-off atmosphere portrayed in the video pretty much set in stone, or is it reasonable to assume trainers will tone it down & use other reinforcement tactics if the boot-camp approach harms your progress?
posted by BEE-EATING CAT-EATER at 8:27 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's another person who doesn't deserve to have favorable attention given to him. Eric Kelly just comes across as an overly macho homophobe bully with far too much pride in his rather feeble history of accomplishments. Unless its all just a persona he adopts in order to, uh, be a more effective boxing instructor for Wall Street types?
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 8:29 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I'd hardly compare his flaccid insults and chest thumping to the boot camp experience I endured. Drill instructors are typically harsh, but ostensibly intent upon improving you. This clown just seems like he's swaggering like an adolescent because he never progressed beyond that.
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2012




What if these shibboleths of abuse don't work for you, even as a motivating factor? Is the discipline-or-fuck-off atmosphere portrayed in the video pretty much set in stone, or is it reasonable to assume trainers will tone it down & use other reinforcement tactics if the boot-camp approach harms your progress?


It depends entirely on the trainer, and how personal the experience is. There can be a lot of machismo in boxing gyms. My experiences were from the perspective of a relatively self assured young man, so it was a bit different.

I came into a little gym in a rough neighborhood, that seemed to focus on keeping boys and girls off the street. They were set on turning kids into athletes, so joining in my mid twenties set me apart a bit. It meant that I didn't get the heckling or the encouragement, but nobody minded that I wanted to join in for the workouts and to learn the sport.

I mean it's really going to depend where you go and who you are. There's no standardization in this stuff, the trainers set the mood. It's really going to be up to the practitioner to decide whether a gym is a good fit for them.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2012


After watching Full Metal Jacket, I asked my dad if that's what boot camp was really like. He said yes. I asked how it didn't make him nuts. He said that he was from New York and that being yelled at was nothing new.
posted by jonmc at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2012


B-E C-E: I suspect that if you're not into the suck-it-up-or-fuck-off atmosphere, you indeed must fuck off and find another gym.

I think there's something to a boot-camp style approach to physical training, and there's no reason you couldn't separate the tough-love verbal-pseudo-abuse from the homophobia.

I'd have no problem with my hardass trainer yelling at me that I'm (for agument's sake) a lily-livered cur when I'm trying get that 100th push-up or whatever, if that's what I paid for. If he or she goes on to imply that my lack of puissance implies an inherently shameful lust for my own gender, well, I find neither sexism nor homophobia motivating.

I wish I knew for sure these guys were the same guys from (say) that Overheard at Goldman-Sachs blog, or whatever. Although upon reflection blah blah privilege and power allows them the luxury of indulging in this masculine fantasy on their terms, blah blah something something socioeconomic tourism/slumming blah I dunno time to get back to work I guess.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:41 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is, next time someone asks me what I do, I'm replying "I ride the bullet."
posted by orme at 8:42 AM on May 18, 2012


The Whelk: "I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person."

That's okay. Unless you're pleasing them, you honestly don't have to.
posted by grammar corrections at 8:44 AM on May 18, 2012


I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.

Wouldn't it be more about proving them wrong about their insult?
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]



I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.


It doesn't make me please them, it makes me want to punch them in the snout. Which is great when you're on the fifth two minute punching set, and your stomach feels like it's trying to crawl into your lungs.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2012


I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.

You should probably avoid grad school then.
posted by srboisvert at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


"You don't see me goin' to motherfuckin' Wall Street pickin' up a fuckin' briefcase tryin' to type, do you?

No, but maybe there are people there you could pay to tell you how motherfuckin' awful you are.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:53 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In boot camp we would put on our tracksuits and go for a jog every morning before doing anything else. In civilian life I can barely put on my pants in the morning before going to work. On the other hand, we were not insulted in boot camp. Just told to go out and jog. Boot camp != insults.
posted by Authorized User at 8:58 AM on May 18, 2012


99% of the average person's idea of what boot camp is like comes from a fictional person's shitty experience (Private Pyle) in a movie (Full Metal Jacket).

And no, I will not cite that statistic.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2012


It's funny because he's insulting wall street banker nerds and not computer nerds, right?
posted by rocket88 at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I definitely think there's a slight element of "tongue-incheek" to this video. All the dudes seem to have a sense of humor about it. Pretty freakin' funny actually.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2012


It's funny because he's insulting wall street banker nerds and not computer nerds, right?

Actually, if that was Mark Zuckerberg, it would be hilarious.
posted by Skeptic at 9:22 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sure, he'd talk some shit to Zuckerberg, but would he try to verbally emasculate Gordon Gecko? I have my doubts.
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 9:24 AM on May 18, 2012


All the dudes seem to have a sense of humor about it.

True.

Also, he's right—everything isn't for everyone.
posted by kenko at 9:25 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love business owners who have contempt for their customers. There's something so refreshing about people offering a product who don't hide that they'd rather not be dealing with these fucking retards.

You see this in bookstores a bit and in IT quite a lot.

Sure, he's a dick, but if you were awesome at what you did and were forced to deal with a bunch of dipshits to make rent, you'd probably have a chip on your shoulder too.

It's still funny as hell.
posted by Phreesh at 9:44 AM on May 18, 2012


I think the technically correct term for what he is doing is "bustin' balls."
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:07 AM on May 18, 2012


Without even watching the video, I immediately got a Charlie Kelly vibe from this as well.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2012


I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.

I would like to join a boxing gym where if I do well, the trainer holds up a Pomeranian and says "okay, good hustle, you've earned a minute and a half of snuggling with Mister Scruffles here" and if I do poorly they say, "well it pains me to say this but I felt you were not giving it your all and thus you have forfeited Pom time"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


I was bullied as a kid so videos like this set off all sorts of triggers and really confuse me. I think he's joking. Is he joking? I don't know if he's joking. Either way I hate it.
posted by jnnla at 10:36 AM on May 18, 2012


Oh, man, did they open a Stephen Fry's Fisticuffs Centre in NYC, Greg?
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I fought in March for a charity amateur boxing event, Knocking Out Landmines. A bunch of us from law school train all year at the local boxing club, and we put on a proper fight. Raised $5k or so. My experience with boxing, even though we're the same "type" of people (lawyers are close enough to wall street folk) is wildly different than this.

The trainers at the club are some of the most supportive, encouraging and friendly people I've ever met. It's something like 50/50 men/women. People are also willing to stop what they're doing and help somebody get proper form - I randomly would get advice from one of the top amateur boxers in eastern canada, along with the 3rd highest ranked woman in Canada (I think that's what she's at right now). I was definitely nervous going at first, because yeah I don't need to be yelled at or anything. But nope. A bit of generalized yelling at all of us to finish the last set of burpees, etc, but it was very clear that if you needed a break, you took one.

Maybe it's that the boxing club is a non-profit, that it's run by people who like the sport and train competitors for fun. Alternatively, it's just the small-town vibe in the first place. But I, and a lot of my friends, are going to look for boxing clubs as we move (for the workout, at least), and I will gladly do lawyer-things cheap for any boxing club that needs it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I honestly do not understand the mentality that being insulted makes you want to please the person.

I think the insulting and yelling is mainly about getting past your rational side. Rationally, the trainer is your employee, and you can walk out and quit anytime you feel like it. And the reason you have a trainer is because you would not do the work without them. So if something like insulting and yelling gets you to actually work out, that's reason enough to do it.
posted by smackfu at 11:51 AM on May 18, 2012


(And of course some people just like to be told what to do.)
posted by smackfu at 11:51 AM on May 18, 2012


So how come it's desirable to have that kind of training applied to fitness?

There are people whose recreational activity is having people emotionally and physically beat the snot out of them, such than an entire cadre of women and some men can make a couple of hundred dollars an hour for doing this.

Add the fact that enduring abuse not only gives some people a sense of bonding and euphoria, but also feeling like you were tough enough to endure taking loads of shit and it's a fun game for people who like being 'pushed' that way.
posted by Phalene at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy almost comes off as mean but if this is what it takes for wall street to get a little bit of perspective and humility they should all be forced to spend 2 hours a day getting taunted into doing something with their hands.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2012


Phreesh: "if you were awesome at what you did "

How is this guy any good at being a teacher? It seems like all he does is talk about is how terrible his students are. One guy asked for help explicitly and got insulted in return.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:59 AM on May 18, 2012


I have been boxing for 2 years at an old school boxing gym. I've watched most of the coaches, and they vary from soft spoken and supportive to drill sergeant. I confess I enjoy a certain level of firm discipline from my coach. And on the occasional days when he's in a shitty mood and acts short with me, I have occasionally been able to direct my reaction into punching harder and faster, working harder and faster, being more focused. But overall, you don't want to let emotions get the best of you when you're learning how to fight, and I really don't enjoy being treated badly by someone I'm putting my trust in like that.

I can't stand the drill sergeant coaches and I would never work with them, (and even so, none of them are assholes like this. I couldn't even watch the whole video, just skipped to a few spots and then turned it off - who wants to watch people being verbally abused?!)

Anyway, what I wanted to say is, it's well known that boxing is a working class sport - and the people who excel are those who have suffered. White boxers very rarely succeed anymore, and I suppose there are middle class boxers who do well, but not many. These are guys (mostly) who had very tough childhoods and have probably experienced a lot of adversary, depravation, and many levels of verbal and physical abuse, whether just from the general atmosphere in the neighborhood or, often, in their homes.

I think, although boxing does give you focus and help you mediate your emotions and behavior, a lot of boxers have anger management problems. You don't take a guy from a super stressful, difficult, abusive life, and then teach him how to punch really well, and not have some problematic results.

There was a great mini-series of podcasts this year on the young women trying out for the first olympic boxing team. It touches on the serious shit many boxers go through in life. Also check this profile of Quanitta Underwood. Boxing is a great and therapeutic sport for a lot of people who have suffered, but for a lot of people, it doesn't cure you of the effects of that suffering.

I think for a rich, white guy to go to a boxing gym, he's probably looking for a feeling of authenticity and meaning in his life, which is what we are all looking for, so it's understandable. I go to the gym because I love the discipline, the practice, the meditativeness, I love being part of a community and a tradition. This video - the parts I watched - are also very SM-ish in a way. Sometimes it's a relief to feel like someone else is control. Some people enjoy the attention of being humiliated. So maybe it's some of that too for these guys.

But I don't know because really, this video was too sad for me to watch.
posted by latkes at 12:01 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also...

The trainers at the club are some of the most supportive, encouraging and friendly people I've ever met... People are also willing to stop what they're doing and help somebody get proper form - I randomly would get advice from one of the top amateur boxers in eastern canada, along with the 3rd highest ranked woman in Canada...

My experience (at a small, for-profit neighborhood - emphasis on 'hood - gym) is very similar to this. Everyone from Andre Ward to 7 year old kids to at least one guy in his 80s works out there. People of all sizes, fitness levels, and athletic abilities, side-by-side. Everyone is supportive and kind. There is almost no snickering or meanness. On the contrary, everyone encourages each other and gives and gets complements and helpful suggestions on form and technique. We're about 70/30 men/women, but women are treated respectfully. In two years I saw only one or two exceptions to this, and they were minor.

Also, the couple who owns the place treats everyone like family including having the single coaches over for their Thanksgiving dinners etc.

The place is like a church to me.
posted by latkes at 12:11 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be fair, that uppercut was fucking terrible.

Hilarious video. I imagine most of the folks he's talking to and about have been at the gym a long time. Any sport I've been involved in, once you get comfortable with your team mates or your competitors, you figure out how to push their buttons and there's a certain amount of ball breaking to be expected. Nerd convention doesn't seem to mind)
posted by IanMorr at 12:34 PM on May 18, 2012


That video was staged, glossy, and an advertisement. Let's not make too much of the club from it, it's clearly intended to draw people into the club, where they charge 1000$ for six fucking months.

The places I trained ran as non-profits and you paid 30$ a month for daily classes and all day access, so I find that staggering.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:38 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I meant to say let's not conclude too much about other boxing clubs from it. You can conclude a hell of a lot about this particular club. Namely that they like money. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:39 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The places I trained ran as non-profits and you paid 30$ a month for daily classes and all day access,

Did they actually pay the trainers?
posted by smackfu at 1:59 PM on May 18, 2012


I have no idea, honestly. I can't imagine how that would fit into the budget.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:07 PM on May 18, 2012


Most of the guys I saw there looked reasonably fit; and the punching passably OK, assuming that they're total noobs. That's the thing that irks me about this guy's style. I must've trained under probably dozens of different instructors, in judo, capoeira, freestyle martial arts & even boxing, and without exception every single one has been encouraging towards noobs: "Don't worry if you don't get this right away; everybody starts somewhere".

I guess some people just want that abusive type of encouragement instead. Different strokes for different folks or something.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:43 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be more about proving them wrong about their insult?
posted by Sokka shot first at 4:46 PM on May 18


Why would you care to? If some gobshite is verballing me for no rational reason I instantly feel superior to them anyway.
posted by Decani at 10:43 PM on May 18, 2012


OK, so, if you haven't watched the video, the drill sergeant talk here is a bit misleading. The coach does make fun of people, but in a playful. He's pretty insulting, but he's not angry or yelling, and his intent doesn't seem at all to break people down.

My boxing coach would rib people, but only if he thought you were OK with it. If some jokes about your drooping hook helped you remember to keep your elbow up, he'd make them. If not, he'd just correct you in a more straightforward manner. That style was OK for me and the people training there, as far as I saw. I have no doubt, though, that there people that were inwardly made uncomfortable and never came back.

The guy in the video, certainly, with his casual homophobia, would quietly alienate a lot of people. I did hear my coach once defend jiu-jitsu by saying he used to think it was gay, but now does not. That gave me pause.

It's tempting to say that boxing is a working class pursuit, and that the people that practice it come from communities where homophobia is still commonplace. But with a different expectation of behavior, boxing could prevent that kind of problem.

Institutions that explicitly cultivate an atmosphere of respect and friendliness, like judo, are better at reducing conflicts resulting from differing cultural or moral standards. Someone at the dojo might be a homophobe, but he's not going to use anti-gay slurs like the guy in the video. Probably, no one will ever know, and people will feel comfortable training.
posted by ignignokt at 11:06 PM on May 18, 2012


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