Meeting the ‘King’ of Australian boxing, Sammy Soliman, for the first time at Doherty’s Gym City was one of the most refreshing and fun experiences I have had!
During this very lively photoshoot, I was struck by two interesting aspects to this jovial, warm-hearted, Melbourne hard man: 1) Sammy never stops smiling, or moving for that matter and 2) how slightly built Sammy is! Slight he may be; ripped and shredded he most definitely is, but, damn, this man has abs of steel and can move like greased lightening. Demonstrating some of his dynamic training during the photoshoot and needing no second invitation, Sammy whipped off his Ed Hardy T-shirt to reveal a rippling six-pack before launching into the craziest set of acrobatic push-ups I’ve ever seen.
As a long-time friend and training partner of Sammy, Christian Ennor of Tate Boxing summed up the steely determination that lies behind Sammy’s cheeky smile and easy-going exterior. “In my eyes he is the epitome of a true athlete and human being. It doesn’t matter who you are, he has time for anyone and will put himself out to help. He has a burning desire 24 hours a day to achieve his goals. Most of the time I have to tell him that he has done enough for today and to go home! He never stops smiling. Put simply, I can’t say enough to describe what an amazing person he is.”
The world of boxing is certainly not for the faint hearted: intensive travel, gruelling training sessions and high pressure tournaments are just another day at the office for Sammy. Christian spent four weeks in Los Angeles training with Sammy in 2009, assisting Dave Hedgecock (known as ‘The Living Legend’ due to his lifelong commitment to kickboxing in Australia) and Freddie Roach (a well-known and respected boxing coach and trainer). Roach has trained 25 world champions to date including Amir Khan, Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya. “There were some remarkable differences in the boxing scene in the US compared to Australia,” Christian noted. “I think the difference is that the population is so huge over there, so there are a lot more boxers per capita compared to Australia. More boxers mean more sparring partners and over there they have a boxing show every week.” Within the boxing community in America, it seems that there is also a far greater proportion of athletes that have grown up hard and have had to fight from day one. In comparison, Australian boxers need to travel overseas to get the same level of sparring experience that the US boxers get when they head to their local gym.
This proud Melbournian, Collingwood supporter and family man maintains a strict regime when it comes to training and nutrition. Sammy trains twice a day, boxing for up to an hour and a half per session. Having witnessed Sammy during our photo shoot, I can imagine these training sessions are very full on, non-stop, take-no-prisoners-type sessions. When asked about his training regime Sammy told me, “You have to listen to your body with the quantity, style and intensity levels of your training. You have to be able to keep up with your opponent.” To keep his body and more importantly his opponents guessing, his training is as diverse and varied as a programme could be. Sessions will include long distance running (20 km +), hill sprints, kettlebell training and functional weight training. Rumour has it that Sammy regularly pumps out 2,000 ab crunches in one sitting; can you imagine doing that many ab crunches non-stop?
He is as regimented with nutrition as he is intense with his training, a quality that lasts all year round. Like many top level athletes there is no on - or off-season for this world champion, simply consistent and constant clean and organic healthy food choices. A tip shared with us – to maximise nutrient levels from the veggies he eats, Sammy will also drink the water the vegetables have been boiled in, in addition to the eight plus glasses of water he consumes in a day!
Meal 1: 2 Vita-brits with low-fat milk, honey and fruit
Meal 2: Organic slow-release carbohydrates and salad
Meal 3: Protein (chicken, red meat or fish) with a variety of vegetables plus a glass of red wine.
Christian Ennor put very simply the key to success that anyone aspiring to achieve can relate to: “Some people are born with a natural skill and some have to work harder to achieve. At the end of the day it comes down to how badly you want it. The bigger the sacrifice, the greater the gain will be.”
We look forward to seeing Sammy in his next fight, in 2010, where he is sure to ‘gas it up’ Melbourne-style. M&F