Our September Contender of the Month is Ashkan Alaie. When not boxing Ashkan is working hard as a clothing designer and even has his own brand called Proper Dirty. We are proud to have had Ashkan training in our gym now since 2018. Check out our Q&A with him below and see why he stuck around.
Q: What level of experience did you have with fitness and boxing before joining Contenders, and what would you rate your skill level at now compared to when you began?
A: I was going to the gym pretty often before I started boxing, I had done a year or so of kickboxing when I was 12 but forgot a lot of things. If I was a 0 out of 10 in terms of skill level when I joined contenders, I’d say I’m a 5 or 6 now. I’d beat my older self up.
Q: Why did you decide to start boxing?
A: Initially when starting the sport, I just wanted to get in shape before I moved to NYC. I ended up not moving, getting in shape, and continuing boxing at Contenders because I fell in love with the sport.
Q: What about Contenders stood out to you?
A: The staff and people who train at Contenders are very approachable and nice. All the staff are extremely knowledgeable and skilled at what they do, and they don’t have a mean and tough bs demeanour that other boxing gyms and trainers have.
Q: What are both your short term and long term fitness goals, and how has Contenders helped you in achieving them?
A: Right now, I’m getting in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically before the end of 2021, and I’ll be coming to Contenders from Mon-Fri until the end of the year. In the long run I want to continue to grow my knowledge of boxing, stay in shape, and become fluid with my movements and techniques. It’s a never-ending journey.
Q: What helps you stay yourself motivated in your fitness journey?
A: My own mind and will power. Once I set my goals on something I get after it with tunnel vision. I have to prove my inner bitch wrong.
Q: What challenges do you face in boxing? How do you work through them?
A: I had a pretty bad back injury last fall that led me to not being able to workout for 9 months. Since I got two bulging disks, movement isn’t always the easiest, so I have to have extra focus on rehabilitation, stretching, and making sure not to have another injury while boxing. Overcoming this mental block is key, because I fear getting hit a lot in sparring and injuring my back again, but I’m working on overcoming this fear, and also not getting hit haha.
Q: At Contenders, what is your favorite class to take? Why?
A: I honestly take every single class throughout the week other than lunchtime training camps because it doesn’t work with my schedule. I feel like each one benefits me in a different way in improving my overall boxing. If I had to choose it’d probably have to be Sparring drills.
Q: How has staying active helped in other areas of your life?
A: If I don’t stay active, I automatically feel my mood and overall mental health go down. Staying active definitely reduces my stress, boosts my mood, gives me confidence, and a lot of times boosts my creativity for work because I’m clear headed after working out.
Q: If you could give a piece of advice to someone thinking about starting boxing, what would you say?
A: Boxing (especially at Contenders) will give you a workout that is hard to replicate on your own or elsewhere. In the hour that you workout at Contenders, you don’t think about anything else that’s going on in your life. You’re completely present, learning a new skill, getting a hell of a sweat on, and having fun doing it. I simply can’t get the same level of intensity or fun while working out on my own or at a gym. You also get a new level of confidence knowing a skill that can benefit you in a lot of situations.
Q: How has your outlook of boxing changed over time?
A: I grew up watching a lot of MMA and combat sports. I didn’t appreciate some of the fighters (Floyd Mayweather) and their techniques by simply watching the sports until I actually learnt it myself. The intricacies in their techniques and their movements are unbelievable. Boxing is a mind game, and only slightly about the physical.
Q: …And lastly tell us something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: Jake Paul is actually my favourite boxer.