A ring corner might be a great location for propping up a weary, sweat-soaked body, but to regard it as little more than a resting place is naïve. True, the corner in any ring sport is where fighters catch their breath, but it’s also much more than that. The ring corner is a safe haven, a classroom and a motivational seminar.
A cubby hole where fighters calm their minds and seek support.
A place where fighters learn valuable lessons.
An inspirational spot where fighters bring focus to their future and actively visualise success.
The importance of a capable corner team is paramount – a fact that has never been lost on Muay Thai fighter Panicos Yusuf. The World Champ has repeatedly referenced how a good corner team is essential to success.
But what exactly makes a “good” corner team? Is it all about what the trainers say when the fighter is sat there huffing and puffing? Tanko posed these questions, and Panicos shook his head.
“It’s more than that” he replied. “Yes it is about what they say. But it’s also about how they say it – what words they use, their tone of voice. In the ring, your mind is racing a hundred miles an hour. It’s easy for the shouts to go over your head. A good corner says things in the right way so it clicks”.
Whilst a corner team is responsible for keeping their fighter’s head in the game, they’re also responsible for keeping it out of the clouds too. Like so many other pro Muay Thai competitors, Panicos has been reprimanded by his corner team when he was getting too big for his boots. “On one occasion, I was ahead on points in a match and showboated a bit putting my hand in the air to get a reaction from the crowd” he told Tanko. “Straight away I heard my corner screaming at me. I knew I was in trouble! They’re good like that. They keep me grounded”.
“In the ring, your mind is racing a hundred miles an hour. It’s easy for the shouts to go over your head. A good corner says things in the right way so it clicks.”
Some fighters feel the rush before a fight – revelling in the excitement like a kid on Christmas morning. Others are at peace – grabbing a quick five minutes of shut-eye in the changing rooms before the bout begins. But none are fearful. Every single combat sports athlete enters the ring believing they’re going to emerge victorious. If this belief wavers for even a moment, it is up to the corner team to restore balance and kick the champion mind-set back into action. “You have to be different with different fighters to get the best out of them” Panicos told Tanko. “Some you have to praise, some you have to be more of a Sergeant Major type with. Every fighter is different”.
Overall, Panicos is under no illusions as to why he’s had such a successful career to date. “I’ve won the majority of my fights, simply because of my corner” he told Tanko. “That’s the reason. There’s no doubt about it”.