“Women weaken legs.” It’s an infamous line from the character of Mickey Goldmill in Rocky II which came out in 1979 but the perception that this was true happened long before that movie. It was films like that though which helped to increase the thought that it was true.
Of course what Mickey was saying to Rocky is that he was not to have sex before his fight. So is this a myth? Well one thing for sure is that it goes well beyond just the physical exhaustion of having sex as it also involves a huge mental role that your brain will play before a fight.
The Pros Don’t Help
If you’re looking into the professional ranks to see what the pros do then you’re going to get a lot of mixed messages about what you should be doing. The likes of Muhammed Ali didn’t have sex for around 6-8 weeks before a fight which is a long time to go without for a boxer but not quite so painful if they are spending camp away from their partners.
Other boxers though are much more relaxed about their training regimes and someone like a Carl Frampton will go back home for the weekend after a hard week of training. Other fighters like Conor McGregor say that they try to have as much sex as possible in the lead up to the fight so you never quite know what to believe.
The Case For It
Now if you’re going to have sex in the dressing room before your fight then it’s clearly going to take some energy away from you and is going to negatively affect your boxing performance, but when people say ‘sex before a fight’ they mean any time in the buildup.
There are clear and obvious reasons why people think that sex is a bad idea which are hard to argue with.
The most obvious one is that it leaves you tired and lethargic and takes away from your energy levels. This is impossible to argue with as the post-sex nap is a fate that befalls many people who know how tired that this can leave them. The counter-argument to this is that the same could apply to any form of physical activity whether it is lifting weights, running or having sex.
Another factor is that it weakens your legs which is a bit harder to argue against as this can happen and trying to plant some power shots after sex probably wouldn’t be a good idea as your legs would probably give way. It also makes you feel more internally tired as well and you lose the motivation to do anything else.
Sex also reduces your testosterone as well which in turn makes you less aggressive which in turn makes you less likely to want to fight. This is a chain that is all true and not a myth but it’s the length of time that they things will affect you for which is the myth.
- Leaves you tired
- Legs feel weaker
- Lack of motivation
- Decreases testosterone levels
- Makes you less aggressive
The Case Against It
Well aggression doesn’t work for some people and there is no doubt that sex makes you more relaxed. That relaxation can lead to clearer thinking as you won’t be as stressed and you’ll have a quicker reaction time as you don’t have anything pent up.
This will be able to increase your level of focus as you won’t be so tense. A tense boxer is a bad boxer and if going without sex is making you tense and unfocused then it’s clearly not working for you. While there will be a release of testosterone immediately after you have sex there is a thought that the increase when it comes back will help a fighter.
There is obviously the huge psychological issue as well which works for some but not others. If having sex is going to make you happier then it makes sense that you are going to have a happier and more rewarding camp and a better fighter at the end of it.
- Let’s you relax
- Reduces stress
- Makes you happier
- Higher testosterone once recovered
Is It A Distraction?
The biggest aspect of this question though is not based on any fact, it’s based on boxers own mental preparedness going into a fight. A lot of boxers enter into a competitive state of mind where they have one sole focus on the task in hand and that is beating the opponent that they will face in the ring.
For many fighters this means staying away from home and keeping all distractions away from them that can make them lose their focus. It’s a warrior mentality that some get into before they have a fight. It’s almost as if some boxers want to punish themselves as much as possible in order to build up aggression for a fight.
Another key mental factor is one of superstition and a huge amount of athletes struggle with their superstitions. Whether it is putting one glove on before the other before a fight or not having sex, if a boxer breaks their routine then it can play havoc with their mental state and doubts can creep in.
If you have sex the day before a fight and have a genuine belief that it is going to affect your performance when boxing then it’s likely that it will. Not because of any physical effects but because the mental side will be playing on your mind and you will lose confidence because of it.
There are boxers out there that are much more relaxed though and can unwind even while they are in camp on don’t have any superstitions. These fighters are much more likely to not feel any effects of having sex and will be able to perform between the ropes to the best of their ability.
If you don’t have a partner though but are speaking to people then there’s an argument that the thrill of the chase, going out to see people and staying up late at night is going to negatively affect you. There is defiantly an argument for this as when you’re in camp you always need appropriate rest and recuperation while maintaining your focus.
So, What Exactly Is The Truth?
The truth is that sex is a physical activity that takes recovery time, just as running or sparring does. Think about it, have you ever had sex and then gone to sleep, waking up the next day and think “Oh wow, last night’s sex really has taken the energy out of me!” the answer is, of course you haven’t, as after a good amount of rest your body will recover.
The flipside to that though, what if a boxer who believes in the myth has a bad spar the next day and looking for something to blame? It could well be the run that they had the previous day or it could be that they have not eaten well enough but a superstitious boxer will blame it on the sex and that’s where the myth comes from.
Do you really think that if you have sex two weeks before a fight that it’s going to affect your boxing performance a fortnight later? It would be crazy to think so but some boxers need certain rules in place in order to keep their focus and maintain their camp discipline.
The bare truth of it is that having sex will affect you in the same way as any other form of physical activity. Whether it’s having sex, doing a weight session or a sprint session . . . you probably wouldn’t want to do any of them before you step into the ring with another fighter.
Check out Precision Striking’s video on this exact subject.
Q: What about masturbation?
A: David Haye was quoted as saying that he doesn’t ejaculate six weeks before a fight, let alone have sex. As you can imagine, this has all the downsides of sex but not quite as dramatically so this should be viewed in the same way but just on a lesser scale.
Q: Can I have sex the day of a fight?
A: One thing that people underestimate with sex is the physical impact that it has on your body. Your heart rate rises, you might start to sweat and you will burn a lot of calories and lose a lot of energy. Due to this having sex on the day of the fight would be reckless.
This is just due to that fact that it is physical exercise and you need to store all the energy you can for your bout with the only exception being in the warm-up in the changing rooms, where you will be loosening up your arm muscles.
Q: Can I have sex before sparring?
A: Yes you can but you have to be aware that your performance is going to be worsened by the fact that your energy levels are going to be a lot lower. This might actually work as an advantage though as it will help you to learn how to fight when you’re tired as you will be in the later rounds.
Q: Can I have sex while training?
A: Yes, absolutely. There is absolutely no scientific reason why having sex when you are in training for a fight will limit your performance in the actual bout. Having sex at night before you go to bed isn’t going to affect you in any way and having sex a few hours before a training session is going to have a very minimal effect on you.
So the answer? Yes, it’s a myth . . . but it’s not that simple. If you’re a more relaxed fighter who just wants to know how to be at peak performance in the ring then all you need to know is that you are fine to have sex, as long as you have a good rest and a long sleep afterward.
If you’re a fighter who needs to stick to a certain set of rules and parameters to perform at your best when you just need to stick to what you are doing to make sure nothing negatively affects your mental state.
Personally I’m a huge believer in the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you’re going to win a fight, then you probably will. If you believe that you’re going to lose, then you probably will. And if you believe that sex before a fight is going to make you perform worse, then it probably will, but it’s all mental.
The bottom line is that the only reason you should avoid sex before a fight is in order to keep a mental edge. Sex is just exercise and there is no evidence to suggest that having sex in the weeks leading up to a fight will have any negative effect.