Bruce Babashan grew up in the golden age of boxing with idols like Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier. While he never made it as a professional athlete, he is now a boxing coach and attributes his success to his mediocre athletic ability.
“I was an average athlete, but I understood fighting,” said Babashan. "My lack of ability made me work harder, it made me pay more attention. And I was the perfect level to be a sparring partner, so guys always wanted to practice with me."
Babashan would spar with great athletes, and while he was in the ring with them, he'd listen to their professional coaches, soaking everything in.
"I was at least smart enough to keep my mouth shut and listen to their coaches," said Babashan. "Here I am, taking a beating and learning on the job. It was like an informal apprenticeship [in coaching]."
From there, it happened organically. Young fighters would approach Babashan in the gym, asking for his help. Once he started coaching he knew he had found his True North.
“If you ask a fast guy how he runs fast he’ll say I put my left foot in front of my right foot and I get there first. But if you ask a slow guy how to run faster, he’ll know."
The Secret Power of Bruce Babashan
"My edge in coaching is that I have empathy. I am close to tears and I'm close to temper at all times. When I'm coaching, you might walk in on a Tuesday and leave thinking this guy is absolutely out of his mind. And then you might come in the next day and think wow this guy really loves his athletes. That's the way I express myself. I'm an emotional guy so for me the most important thing about coaching is connecting."
The Key to Coaching is Connection
"I have a very specific way that I connect. The very first thing I tell the kids is: I'm not your friend, I'm not being hired by the promoters to be your friend, but I do love you. And I connect with them at that level. Look, I'm only paid to win, but to win I have to get the most from the athlete. The way I get the most from the athlete is to connect with them at a very deep level and to connect with them emotionally. So I try to make them feel significant but all in a way where they stay humble."
Be Vulnerable to Be Your Best
"Most people are afraid to find out that their best isn't good enough. And then that's what keeps them from becoming their best. So if I'm trying to get someone to be their best then I've got to get them to stretch themselves and be vulnerable."
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