As the first bars of “Conquest of Paradise” boom from the loudspeakers, the feeling that many children of the 1980s and 1990s once had on Saturday evenings the few times they were allowed to stay up late immediately begins to set in.
When Henry Maske, Olympic champion and light heavyweight boxing world champion, entered the hall to the Vangelis song and fought, half of Germany would regularly tune in on TV. By now, Maske is 54 years old and has long since given up boxing. And yet, numerous fans still gathered at ISPO Munich 2018 to take photos of themselves and their children with Maske.
In the Health & Fitness Forum in Hall A6, the former world champion describes how involved he still is with the sport of boxing. This seems to be due to the fact that the sport was a school for life for Maske. “You gave everything in the ring,” he said. “What came before didn’t matter anymore.” And, no matter what conflicts you had with your adversaries: “In twelve rounds, you develop the utmost respect for your opponent.”
In the 1980s, Maske was one of the world’s best amateur boxers. He then went pro, where he won 31 of 32 matches. His nickname was “Gentleman,” because he always acted very reservedly in public and often forewent the typical verbal showdowns before fights.
In addition to his boxing titles, he’s also the bearer of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany’s Goldene Kamera award, and the 2007 Bambi for Comeback of the Year.
Unlike during his active career, boxing matches aren’t gigantic television events anymore, said Maske. “The majority of society doesn’t talk about TV anymore. But you can get people in other ways.” Maske doesn’t believe that interest in boxing will every die out completely. The sport is much too complex for that, and trains the body more comprehensively than nearly every other exercise.
“In boxing, it’s not about strength. It’s about fitness, conditioning, there’s shifts in tempo. And then you add your opponent to the mix. I can have a plan for dealing with him, but I always have to consider: How do I adapt? It challenges your mind, your concentration.”
Henry Maske, who operates multiple McDonalds locations as a franchisee and supports disadvantaged children with a foundation, is putting his expertise to even more use. Just recently it was announced that the former world champion has signed a contract with boxing equipment supplier sports2be.
He’s acting as a brand ambassador and advising the company on the conception of new products. Sandbags aren’t just sandbags either. Product designers alone would need the experience of boxers to develop newer and better variants, said Maske said.
In Maske’s opinion, the fact that there are now many apps and platforms offering complete boxing workouts is not a major innovation in boxing. “Of course this is on the rise, but actually it’s nothing new at all: even 30 years ago there were instructional videos,” he said. Amateur boxers should absolutely make sure that the teaching material is professionally produced, however, otherwise you could easily injure yourself.
On the other hand, Maske sees potential in tracking systems like those produced by the US company Hykso. Boxing gloves are equipped with small chips that then measure impact hardness, speed, number of hits, and the execution quality.
“During a workout, it’s very helpful to see: where can I adapt? Where can I improve?” For experts and professionals on one hand, of course, but the technology’s also appealing for amateurs. “People don't just want to power themselves up while boxing,” said Maske. Above all, they also want to do it good and proper.”
He doesn’t see the danger of amateurs being more likely to play with the technology than to really train. “Our sport is just a really hard sport,” said Maske. The focus, he continues, is clearly on utilizing one’s body, not on gadgetry.
A tracking system and an app would rather help to motivate and inspire the fighters – perhaps even in mass sports. “If this is also implemented in Germany, I think boxing could make a huge leap forward.”