Q&A with boxing coach Rob Pilger

By Columbus Alive
From the December 13, 2012 edition

Rob Pilger is a devout boxing expert who’s been practicing the sweet science since he started at 14-years-old. He’s won three Golden Glove championships as an amateur, fought professionally and is a nationally accredited and certified boxing coach and trainer. Pilger trains fighters using unique strength and conditioning methods he said gives them an edge over the competition. Another way Pilger tries to get the best out of his pupils and keep them dedicated is putting on amateur boxing events and traveling to tournaments. Pilger also works with mixed martial arts fighters and instructs general fitness clients looking to be in top shape like professional fighters.

One of the best things I did in my life was become a certified strength and conditioning coach. I recently wrote an e-book, “The Boxing Blueprint,” that fits a niche because strength and conditioning is bastardized in boxing. It’s misapplied and even blackballed.

The biggest myth in boxing is that heavy weights make you slow. It does not make you slow! With a weak fighter, you hit a wall. No matter what you do in skill, they will not get better. As soon as they get stronger it raises that ceiling for further skill development. Unless you’re genetically gifted, like Mike Tyson, you have to use strength and conditioning to get better.

What really hurts boxing is a lot of these skill coaches have everybody cutting weight, shrinking these fighters down to where they shouldn’t really fight. They think it’s an advantage to be a couple weight divisions down. That messes the body up internally and makes them weaker. They have to burn away muscle to make that weight.

Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell is somebody I look up to and have learned a lot from. He is an icon in the strength and conditioning world and many of my methodologies have come from him. It’s enhanced this gym because his methods are cutting edge. My workouts are always progressing as I learn more.

Our show this weekend will have fighters from in-state and out-of-state — male, female, future pros and future world champions. It’s the 11th show in 14 months. I’ll venture to say that’s more than we’ve had in Columbus in the last three, four years. Having all these shows and going to tournaments keeps the fighters focused. If you don’t travel and don’t compete a lot, they get burned out.

My appreciation goes to the local rec centers for the success of our boxing shows. I couldn't have these shows without the support of the Columbus coaches and fighters at the Douglas, Blackburn, Beatty, Dodge and Thompson [community] centers.

General fitness clients come in here, too. You don’t need experience; we start off with the basics. The adherence to this is great because you learn a skill while getting in shape. They don’t do anything different than a fighter does, and they can do light sparing if they choose. They appreciate being treated like a professional athlete and training among professional fighters.

James Toney was my idol growing up and I made my pro debut on his undercard. It was my favorite moment of my life. He is my favorite modern day fighter.