Look Ma, I Got Rhythm!

by Fran on March 20, 2012

Old Man…With Rhythm???

The title of this post is a reference to the immortal line uttered by Steve Martin in the classic film ‘The Jerk’.  Martin played a man called Navin Johnson.  Navin had been adopted by a black family and had always felt, well, different.  This difference was not one of skin colour, he was entirely unaware of the pigmentation differences.  What separated him from his family was the fact that he was the only family member who had absolutely no ability to move in time with music.  He had no rhythm whatsoever and he was painfully aware of this shortcoming.

One night in bed, whilst listening to the radio, Navin’s feet began to move in time with a song being played.  This came as the most amazing surprise to Navin who screamed at the top of his voice “Look Ma, I got rhythm!”  At the sound of this the entire family piled into the bedroom to marvel at the new-found rhythmic capability of their sibling, all grinning like Cheshire cats.

Well, I’m like Navin WITHOUT the epiphany.

I’ve never been accused of being the English John Travolta.  Quite the opposite in fact.  When on the dance floor I have all the elegance of a bowling ball being dropped.  There usually needs to be significantly raised alcohol levels and serious coercion from my loving wife or some other enthusiastic female clan member to get me up off my seat.  It’s dangerous out there, humiliation is only ever a whisker away.

So, imagine my delight when my wonderfully talented niece put together a small tribute to MyBoxingCoach.  Check out this wonderful 30 second video clip courtesy of Leah.  It has to be the first time in the history of me that I’ve actually appeared to move in time with music.  For that, I am eternally in Leah’s debt.

I dread to say this, but feel free to make a comment…



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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Smith April 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

Thank YOU Fran and you’re welcome.

I have posted a great boxing video clip that I think can be enjoyed by everyone here and Leah as it relates to this tribute article and your recent article on counter punching.
Now check out Floyd Mayweather Jr’s excellent stonewall defence and counter punching tactics. The music is by MC Hammer and was purely intentional.



Fran April 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Very nice. He does have the moves doesn’t he. One of the best in the history of the sport for me.

Thanks Paul


Fran April 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Great stuff Paul, thanks so much. I guess ‘Soul’ is more than just music, and if I can get across the passion that I have for enabling people to truly understand why fighters do what they do, then soul is a great way of describing it.

Fantastic comment Paul, thanks so much.


Leah March 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I should have done this with everyday Im shuffeling XD


Fran March 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I’m guessing that’s a tune that’s ‘sic’ with all you youngsters then?


Piotr March 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Thanx for that video and for everything Fran!

Rhythm, off all things, happens to rather be my forte (maybe because I wasn’t adopted by a black family). If only my boxing (or grappling) was that good!

But what I want to say is this…

Quite recently I decided to learn, at last, the drums. (I always wanted but the neighbours, you know.) And so I’m doing what they call “drumming rudiments”. They are rhythm patterns one plays with the hands, usually on the snare-drum (or some imitation). Stuff not so complicated, unless you play them quickly and need precision.

And I started to wonder if those “rudiments” can perhaps somehow help my boxing skills. (It’s not really boxing, it’s MMA and not very serious, but I used to train some boxing and would like to box as well as possible whenever I use any boxing. For a serious boxing I’m already much too old.)

So, what do you think, Good People – can such rhythmic exercises help one’s boxing in any way, or not? Not that it’s going to change anything for me, but I’m just curious how much that real black rhythm sense matters in boxing.

For it IS an interesting question, isnt it?


Fran March 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Hey Piotr

Thank you for the comment and question, and I’m really glad that the site continues to be of help.

Whilst I’m relieved not to be your next door neighbour, I’m sure that becoming a pugilistic John Henry Bonham will do you no harm at all.

Our greatest fighters throughout history have demonstrated sublime rhythm. Watching a youthful Ali in full flight was as balletic a performance as you see. Roberto Duran was (and I assume still is) fanatical salsa dancer. His footwork and punching patterns showed an unmistakable rhythm.

Another even more revered fighter who loved music and dance was Sugar Ray Robinson. He would have walked away from boxing in a heartbeat if he could have earned enough money dancing. It was his true passion. That passion for dance showed through in his unique fighting style. Truly a sublime and gifted boxer.

I suppose for me it’s all about the ability to co-ordinate upper body and lower body movements. There are different rhythms in boxing. Ray Robinson has a particular rhythm, graceful, fluid. Marvin Hagler had his own rhythm; metronomic, consistent. Both all time greats who had a rhythm about them that was a demonstration of their inate ability to co-ordinate upper and lower body movements.

Drums, of all the instruments that you could choose to play, would be the one that is most likely to have some positive impact on your ability to time and co-ordinate your movements.

Great question Piotr.


Ivan March 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm

It could all be blamed on the music.


Fran March 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Or my nervous disposition :o)


Jim March 21, 2012 at 9:26 am

We train with reggae, good beat and slowed everything down a little to maintain concentration..


Fran March 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Oh yes, I could live with that Jim.


Matt March 21, 2012 at 5:08 am


Before I forget, thought you may like this and it may even bring a smile to your face.
There is no better advert for not showboating and just do what you need to do and have been trained to do, than this;



Fran March 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Oh dear oh dear. That is easily one of the most valuable life lessons you’ll ever see be learned! Like the Life of Brian ‘hold this cross a minute’ scene. “That taught you mate!”


Matt March 21, 2012 at 4:57 am

Those who can, box.
Those that can’t, dance.
Don’t think strictly will be won by a boxer anytime soon!
Our footwork, though graceful is only to get us in, out and around our prey.
Made me laugh Fran, bit like me trying to skip these days.
Thanks for the giggle.



Fran March 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I’ve only ever danced well when somebody is earnestly trying to knock me out. Never wanted to hear music during that dance though any more than I wanted to see stars.

And no problem on the giggle front. Thanks Matt


TcB234 March 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Fran or should I say..Fred Astaire,
It seems that your niece, bless her soul, had to speed up the ‘old man’s’ movements to keep time with the, er ah…I use the word, music, advisedly. haha.
I know most young boxers today listen to ‘techo’, rap or some other base thumping sound. All of which, in my opinion, has absolutely no rythmn at all. Not llike original R&B Sonny Liston is said to have listened to. He reportedly listened to the same rythmn and blues tune over & over as he trained.
Personally, all I want to hear in the gym during training sessions is the sound of jump ropes singing accompanied by the base thumps of a heavy bag and the rapid percussion of speed bags.


Fran March 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Fred Astaire indeed. I laughed about the ‘speed up’ thing, she took 20 years off me all by the power of the mystic lap top and a creative mind. If only life were that simple.

There are times in the gym where I do struggle. Some nights that music seems a hell of a lot louder than others. You have to draw the line when you have to shout to be heard during pads or tech sparring. I’m too scared of them to raise the possibility of a little Simon and Garfunkel every now and then.

The humming ropes of a dozen boxers at the same time is one of the highlights of the evening. The gentle whirr, outstanding.

Cheers for the comment my Canadian friend.


svenjamin March 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

The Jerk is a great movie. But it looks like you’re still a bit out of rhythm to me.


Fran March 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Great to hear from you dear chap! If I’m not in rhythm with all of the technical jiggerypokery at work here, then I’ll never be!


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