Boulton and Thorburn Put on the Foil
Being and NHL player is a year-round job that requires a dedication to staying fit all summer long. Most NHL players take a little bit of time off at the end of the season to let their bodies recuperate from the grind of the season but the majority of them are back in the gym fairly quickly.
When you have a long off-season doing all of your cardio workouts on a treadmill or bike can old very, very quickly, so some players like to mix it up. Players like Eric Boulton and Chris Thorbun who have spent the last few summers doing some off-season work with a local boxing instructor named Amir Dodovic who has helped them their fitness as well as their “physical play”. Dodovic is a Muay Thai champion who is originally from Bosnia and Boulton gives him credit for helping him improve his punching speed, punching power, and overall fight defense. The improved cardio has been huge too. Boulton was involved in some extraordinarily long fights last season and he told me that he was more confident knowing he could outlast the other guy if an altercation went long. He didn’t mind taking some punches as much if he knew he’d tire the other guy out and get some solid shots in at the end. Spend a few minutes on hockeyfights.com and you’ll see a trend- Boulton almost always finished strong last season, and that’s thanks in part to Dodovic.
This summer Boulton and Thorburn are doing two sessions per week with Dodovic in Duluth. Last year they worked out with him at Knuckle Up and sparred in the ring with some of Dodovic’s other clients who were local boxers and fighters. That gym has since closed, but Thorburn doesn’t mind not being in the real ring with trained fighters. Hockey fighting and boxing are two very different animals (fighting on skates takes a different balance and you usually use one hand to hold an opponent’s jersey, limiting your combo options) and Thorburn openly admitted that he wasn’t good at defending himself in the ring, even though he could land plenty of blows. He actually had to stop sparring.
“I was so bad at defense that I was going to get injured or get a concussion,” he said today.
For more on what the workouts do for Boulton and Thorburn watch this video. At the end Boulton points out that boxing is a great workout for anyone, and it’s true. Plenty of NHL tough guys use it as part of their workout, but so do other players who aren’t know for dropping the gloves. Apparently Nik Antropov has used it as part of his conditioning routine as well. Hopefully he won’t have to use those skills on the ice this season- Thorburn and Boulton seem more than prepared to step in for him.
If you want to learn more about Amir Dadovic and his fighting career (he almost made it onto the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter show) you can read up at his web site.