Portrait of a Great Champion
Interview with Alex Tui - 2004
Part 2

Alex Tui and Father Dave

(click here for the first part of this interview)

This month we take a look at Alex Tui's fitness routine.

Alex always claims to be lazy in his training, but those of us who have seen him train know that he is quite capable of pushing himself mercilessly. Alex tends to downplay the intensity of his workouts here, but the little comment he makes at the end of the interview, regarding his routine with the 'Thai' skipping rope is a good indication of the fact that his 'easy-going' approach to fitness training is far tougher than what most athletes are able to endure.

Dave: Now I want to get into I what makes Alex Tui a great world champion. When I think of Alex's fighting style, I think simplicity of style, good balance, powerful use of the hips, legs like telegraph poles. I think of you as more of a no-nonsense, straight up and down sort of fighter, but I still do want to get to some of the essence of your technique. But in terms of your body, which has been like a battering ram, what has been the secret of your fitness and your strength do you think?

Alex: I am naturally strong I think. Just general growing up and being active and, running around and climbing coconut trees and stuff like that.

Dave: Climbing coconut trees? OK!

Alex: But as far as my fighting goes, I think it just had a lot to do with that combination - with physical strength and with ability to have … you know…. co-ordination and that. But I think the more import thing is how you are prepared inside?

Dave: Yeah, mentally and emotionally - I'm with you 100%. Let me just hold off on that one though for a bit, let me just see on the fitness side.

I've seen you train. You are very disciplined when you train. Sure you've climbed a lot of trees in your time but you do train very hard for those fights, right? What do you think is the essence of your fitness routine? How often would you train? What would be the structure of your training routine?

Alex: Oh you're taking me back a long …. 20 years now.

Dave: Not that many years! I mean how often would you run? You know, was running a key thing?

Alex: Running wasn't my key thing. Running I didn't like much. Also, Redfern is not great place to run. Well … that's my excuse.

Running wasn't the key, but sure, I needed to run. I was always pushed to run. OK, that was the routine - run every morning and train at night, run every morning, train at night. This is what the Thai's teach.

Dave: So seven days a week, or you took a day off?

Alex: I had a day off - six days. Six days a week, run every morning.

Dave: Long distance running or sprint training?

Alex: It was a mixture. You know, some long runs, some short runs.

Dave: OK. And this was the influence of the Thais. So you run every morning and train every night - with sparring every night or just bag work every night?

Alex: It was bags, and sparring maybe three times a week? You know, you try to get sparring in regularly but…

Dave: And how long were those training periods? I mean, how long were you running for? An hour? More? Less?

Alex: Between 45 minutes to an hour.

Dave: OK. And then the training in the evening is between 1 and 2 hours?

Alex: Between one and a half and two hours maybe…yeah.

Dave: Excellent. Sparring 3 times a week. So was there any other sort of fitness? Did you take nutritional supplements or anything like that?

Alex: I didn't take supplements till later but…you know that was when everyone was getting into it. So I asked around a bit. I actually took supplements but, to be honest, I never really…

Dave: Felt they made much of a difference?

Alex: Yeah, I didn't really feel whether I did it properly, because I was always worried about taking things that are not natural. And even when I was taking them I was taking the minimum because I didn't really want to.

Dave: Did you do weight training at all in that routine?

Alex: Very minimal weight training.

Dave: So really it was a medium amount of running and a lot of gym work. Mainly pads your talking here, not necessarily an enormous amount of skipping or weights or anything else, mainly pads?

Alex: Oh, mainly pads, but the skipping was half an hour skipping, which was a lot of skipping.

Dave: That's a lot of skipping. Half an hour straight?

Alex: Half an hour

Dave: Using the heavy rope? [nb. Thai's like to use a relatively heavy rope made of thick plastic piping]

Alex: Heavy rope.

Dave: That's impossible! I would think it was impossible. In two-minute lots or half an hour straight?

Alex: Half an hour, just continuous.

Dave: That's amazing! Your arms would fall off! I mean the weight of that rope! That's incredible. So that's the Thai way!

Next month: Alex Tui's routine of mental preparation