Before becoming one of boxingâ€™s top promotors, Dmitriy Salita was once one of the top fighters in the world. The Brooklyn-raised former light-welterweight compiled a 36-2-1 pro record, winning both WBA and IBF international titles. In 2009, Salita was ranked first by the WBA before losing to world champion Amir Khan in a light-welterweight title bout.
Now Salita represents a stable of boxing superstars, including womenâ€™s middleweight world champion Claressa Shields.
Salita continues to train while representing the best female fighter in the world, and shares with Lights Out what's needed in order to get started on your own successful boxing training regimen.
What are some of your fondest boxing memories?
Growing up I started training boxing at Starrett City Boxing Club in Brooklyn. It was run by Jimmy Oâ€™Pharrow, an older African-American man who took me under his wing and became kind of a father figure in my life. It may have been in a bad neighborhood, but Starrett City was really like a League of Nationsâ€”we had African-Americans, Latinos, Russians, Italians, Irish coming to train there. That place produced some of the greatest fighters: Danny Jacobs, Luis Collazo, Shannon Briggs, Monte Barrett, Sadam Ali, even myself. Iâ€™m probably leaving out 20 names. Starrett City was really a melting pot.
It closed about seven years agoâ€”regulations wouldnâ€™t allow it to function in New York City these days, especially in this era of coronavirus. It was in the basement, with no air conditioning, no heating and no water. When I would train there in the summer, trainers would put containers of water on a desk in the middle of the gym, and weâ€™d all share the jugs. As far as I know, nobody died from that [laughs].
The gym was freeâ€”none of us had money to pay back then. But it takes that type of environment to produce champions. Itâ€™s challenging to be able to go in a ring and go face to face and feel a lot of pain, even shed some blood. We had to put up with discomfort every day for many years. That discomfort created an inner drive in all of us in which we didnâ€™t see Starrett Cityâ€™s conditions as an obstacle, but as something to look forward to each day.
For those starting off in boxing, what should you learn first?
Learn the basics. Every world-class fighter starts with the basics. The first thing youâ€™d want to learn is how to stand properly. Stand with your feet at shoulder width with a slight bend in your knees. Your feet should be pointed at about 1 or 2 oâ€™clock. Hands up, elbows in. Start with a jab. Learn how to step forward and backward as well.
When it comes to hooks and uppercuts, they may be a little more advanced, but once you learn how to do all these things, you can have a great workout, and be able to defend yourself.
What items should any home boxer have?
The great thing about boxing is, unlike many other sports, you don't need much, and it's pretty cheap to get started. Hand wraps
or some kind of hand protectors are very important. It takes some skill to be able to wrap hands, so Iâ€™d even suggest beginners try the hand wraps that just slip over your hands and have the Velcro wrapping. Youâ€™ll need gloves, of course, either 12 to 16 ounces based on your size and your fitness ability.
And if youâ€™re training at home, especially if weâ€™re going to be dealing with coronavirus going forward, youâ€™ll need a heavy bag. I think for most homes and apartments, the most ideal heavy bag is the one with a base at the bottom
. Theyâ€™re easier to move around and you can punch them fairly hard. Some bags bounce back a little bit, so if you learn your defense, you can incorporate some slipping from side to side into your workouts as well.
What is your workout routine like?
One of the things that I used to do when I would be training for a fight was Iâ€™d always run before breakfast. I may have a coffee beforehand, but I always wanted to exercise on an empty stomach because, to me, it helped me burn fat, and I always felt better afterward. It worked for me.
As a fighter, I feel that you get the most benefit from the main exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Those are the best. Then body-weight exercises like pullups, pushups, and dips. That's it. In my opinion, those core exercises develop real strength, everything else is extra. I always felt that I was at my strongest and punched the hardest when I stuck with these exercises.
With a lot of gyms gyms being closed over the past few months, my workouts these days consist of some type of a cardio for 30 or 40 minutes, whether it's running or shadow boxing. Then Iâ€™ll do some sort of body-weight exercise to give me some muscle resistance and toningâ€”like, three or four sets of pushups, situps, and squats. This is how I start my day.