Remember Mikey, the kid from the Life cereal commercials who would try anything? Lately, I feel like that kid. Cannondale needs a writer to go on a morning ride with their team: “Alyssa will do it!” ASICS wants editors to test out their new gear by doing two celebrity workouts a day: “Alyssa will do it!” Reebok offers up British boxer Amir Khan for the day, with the caveat that the reporter will do a five-mile hill run and boxing workout with him: “Alyssa will do it!”
Well, at least I can’t say my job is making me fat. Lately, it’s actually making me fit. And Wednesday’s workout was my favorite so far. For all you boxing fans out there, I basically spent the day at fantasy boxing camp. As a reporter, I was also able to spend a lot of time–on the run, at lunch, in his apartment lobby and at the gym–chatting with Amir and getting to know him and the world of boxing more intimately. It’s the kind of access that is becoming more and more rare and that I cherish when I have the opportunity to grab it. I’m sure as he climbs the boxing ranks and becomes more well known here in the States, opportunities like this will happen less and less. And when access becomes tighter, I will be able to pull out the remember-me-the-girl-who-kept-up-with-you-for-five-miles-in-Griffith-Park card.
After the run, we all went back to the hotel, ate breakfast, hung out while Amir took his late morning nap and then met up again at the famous Wildcard Boxing Gym where he trains with uber-trainer Freddy Roach. I’d never been to Wildcard, so that was a treat in itself. I interviewed Roach while he taped Amir’s hands–something he does every day–and then even got in the ring and hit the pads with Freddy’s brother Pepper, who is also a trainer. And quite a character. I’ll leave it at that.
Watching Amir train with Freddy was about as poetic as a workout could be. His movements flow like water and it was an honor to watch them work from such close proximity. I imagine if I were an amateur boxer training at that gym, I would be inspired after watching one of their sessions. I would not, however, want to get in the ring with Amir. That will be the job, most likely, of Zab Judah this July 23. The fight hasn’t been announced yet, but all signs are pointing to Judah being his next opponent and the fight being held in Atlantic City. “I’m as excited about my next opponent as any I’ve had before,” Amir told me. “But it’s not official until the contracts are signed.” So his camp was mum(ish) on the details. “I want to be the pound-for-pound champion,” he said. “When people think of boxing, I want them to think of Amir Khan.”
I know, at least at the moment, I sure do.
[For more fighting fun, check out my recent story on UFC fighter Jon Jones and how MMA athletes keep their skills in check outside of the ring–unless they witness a bad guy doing a bad thing.]