Wellbeing Champion - Bob Dittrich
Every day is a new day
Bob Dittrich, an account manager in Düsseldorf, Germany to find out more about him and Thai boxing, a sport he has been dedicated to from the age of 16.
1- How did you get introduced to Thai boxing?
I was introduced to combat sports from the age of 11 at school where I began by practicing karate. When I got to the age of 16, I started to train in Thai boxing as it was also offered at my school. Thai boxing was a bit harder and a lot more intensive for me, but I knew that I wanted to continue running and bodybuilding and with Thai boxing you have to train your entire body, that’s the reason why I got into it.
2- What drives you to continue to maintain dedication to your sport?
When I was 16, I was training because I wanted to get better. As you get older and you start to work your head is always full at the end of the day. You go to practice your sport and sometimes might feel unmotivated, but if you continue going it leaves you with a good feeling and your head is much clearer. It develops into a real passion.
3- What was your family’s opinion when you first started boxing – has it changed?
For my parents, it was okay that I was Thai boxing. For my first official fight they told me they couldn’t come to watch and said they didn’t want to see me in the ring. My parents know me and know that I’ve always been passionate about this sport, so they gave me free room to be able to pursue it. They initially were financially supportive and have always been supportive in general.
4- Does your sport impact your wellbeing at work? – Do you notice a change if you haven’t practised in a while?
Similar to my answer for what motivates me to continue to practise Thai boxing, I think in our business, in the day to day, there are so many ups and downs. There are days where there are more downs than ups and vice versa. However, if you have a day with more ups it is really good encouragement to go running the next day and maybe practise some Thai boxing with members of my team. It’s important for me to have that, and I feel freer to work the next day, I feel good and happier.
Thai boxing always has a positive impact for me.
5- Do you have any inspirations within your sporting community?
There are definitely great athletes in Thai boxing, for example Albert Kraus. However, I don’t have an idol, and this is because every athlete adds their own style to Thai boxing. It’s good to look at other athletes and how they can influence and add to your style, but I think you must find your own personal style. Thai boxing differs to traditional boxing as it is very traditional in Thailand and rooted in the culture. For example, in Bangkok you could find boys from the age of 14 competing for money (as it can provide a chance for them to leave the streets), or the fact that it’s bad luck to enter the boxing ring by going underneath the ring ropes as it is believed to be a bad omen. I think it has more tradition than western boxing and thus I look to the tradition more than individuals within the sport.
6- Do you think that ‘fighter’ reflects in your life outside of boxing?
I think so, yes. In Thai boxing, with every knockback we must get up. I am an account manager and I think that that is the same with business. In general, you can’t win every time, but it is a good chance to reflect, ask yourself what your mistakes were and how you can be better next time.
7- What is your proudest achievement within boxing – big or small?
More recently I do not fight [competitively] as much. My first fight was in Germany where I competed in an NRW championship and it was a really good feeling. Yes, there were only four guys in our team, yet you felt the support and protection from all your teammates. The opposition had around 50 people with them and they got to experience that support from 50 people. It remains an experience, to attend, compete and be with teammates.
8- I think the physical effects of boxing are quite well known, but what does boxing do for you mentally?
I think you must be very disciplined; you have to work and be disciplined in your sport. Especially if you want to be considered good in Thai boxing you must train for at least 6 days a week. I don’t currently train up to six days a week however there was a time in my Thai boxing journey that I did. You have to train so much because that’s what all the other Thai boxing athletes are doing. You have an aim, more so if you have a fight coming up you have to be disciplined in how you train, what you eat, not drinking or smoking.
Every time I practice Thai boxing, I am definitely happier and now that’s normal for me.
9- Have you ever considered stopping boxing?
Once, yes. When I was 22. I think I hit a wall, and I didn’t think I could get over this wall. It was a problem. I had girlfriend problems at the time and that was the problem, my head wasn’t in the right space to go into the ring to train with my friends. In the end, I got over the wall and it was okay, because having a one or two week break is important. It allowed me to learn to take more breaks because training at 6 or 7 days a week you put a lot of strain on the body. Yes, you get fitter but then you must rest your body. You’ve got to take breaks.
10 What advice would you give others wanting to start boxing?
I think it’s important to find a good club. You must identify with the people that attend. Because Thai boxing is in the combat sports, lots of people might tell you that it isn’t a team sport, but that isn’t true. It is a team sport because all the other people are pushing you and that’s important. You can think you’re maxed out at 90% and a partner can encourage you to push to 120% and that’s how you get better. It’s important to find a good club with good people.
If you find it hard at the beginning, I think it’s important to remember that it is not that bad. There’s lots of emphasis on working to get the best strikes, but it’s harder to get the conditioning. When you start training, the first 2 or 3 weeks you would’ve been training for 6 days out of the week and be so tired, but you can’t give up. You should never give up, you have to experience it for at least two years.
11- Do you follow any special nutrition programs to maintain your fitness?
I definitely want to eat healthily. I eat lots of porridge, fresh fruits and nuts. It’s important to take care of your body. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur in your sport you’ve got to do the best you can within your means. You’ve also got to remember you won’t always be the best, but you can always work towards it.
12- We thanked Bob for his time and asked him if he had any closing remarks for our readers, he had the following to say:
Bob made sure to remind us that although some people may view Thai boxing as an aggressive sport, it’s a sport that has no space for hate. “Hate doesn’t exist in boxing and I think it’s important to not hate the people inside the ring or anyone outside”. Lastly, “Every day is a new day. That’s important both as an account manager and for sports. Sometimes you can have a bad day in sports, but not every day is the same. We are all humans with ups and downs.”