Tyson Fury Punching a slab of meat in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)Tyson Fury Punching a slab of meat in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths) © Copyright

Tyson Fury // Do Movie Montages Work?

In a world exclusive, Forever Sports enlists World Heavyweight Champion boxer Tyson Fury to put Rocky’s most iconic training methods to the test.

Anyone who tells you they’re not hyped after watching a Rocky movie montage is lying. Those movies have had young men shadow boxing in front of the mirror and running up stairs for nearly 40 years. And who hasn’t put Gonna Fly Now or Eye of the Tiger on in the gym, for that extra push on the bench-press? But let’s face it, some of Rocky’s training tekkers do verge on the comical: chasing chickens, pummelling meat – really? And this got FS wondering: “Could they really work and get you in shape?”

Naturally, we called in the heavies for expert advice. And we mean heavies, as in World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and his coach (and uncle) Peter. Tyson is now in training for his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko on July 9, and while it's unlikely he'll incorporate these moves into his regime, Tyson and Peter test and tell us how effective Rocky's methods would be.

1. Beating the Meat

 

Tyson Fury Punching a slab of meat in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)

 

Rocky going berserk on the side of cow in front of brother-in-law Paulie is one of the series’ most iconic training scenes. He hammers the beef carcass with thunderous left hooks and big right hands. “You’re breaking the ribs!” Paulie yells.

Rocky’s grunting like a pig, though, which is appropriate as that’s exactly what we’ve brought Tyson to punch: a side of pork.

Tyson loved it. “Did you know, pig flesh is the closest thing to human flesh? It was like punching someone in the face. I really enjoyed it. I could get addicted you know.”

Whether it’s a practice he will incorporate into his routine is a different matter.

“It could work,” he said, “but you’d really have to protect your hands. Best sticking to the bags, I think.” 

Glove Rating: 5

2. Chasing Chicken

 

Tyson Fury chasing a chicken in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)

 

One of our hero’s more unconventional methods of training crops up in Rocky II. We’re guessing chicken-chasing builds agility and reflexes, necessary for slipping punches and dancing around a ring. To be honest, it seems dumb. But we didn’t tell Tyson that. 

The result was dismal. The chickens clucked but were pretty immobile – one even laid an egg. All Tyson had to do was bend down and pick them up.

“They’d have to be proper wild for it to work,” Tyson said. “Besides, it’s easy for me, you see. I’m actually a chicken charmer!”

Coach Peter believed it to be a viable method but admitted he wouldn’t be using it any time soon.  “Chasing chickens to improve reflexes might have worked back then, but now you can achieve much better results by using explosive bodyweight exercises.”

Glove Rating: 2

3. Log Squat Hops

 

Tyson Fury doing log hops in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)

 

Another hilarious take on a serious exercise are the log squats in Rocky II. Regular squats make perfect sense; a heavy weight supported by the upper body adds resistance when rising from the squat, helping to build quads and glutes and strengthen the core. Rocky, though, does bizarre bunny hops when he’s in the crouch. 

“They’re a bit pointless,” Tyson said dismissively. “I’m 6ft 9in. I can’t get down there and do those funny little hops, I’m coming straight back up!”

Peter said the squats without the hop are OK, but using free weights are a much better alternative. He should know; their split-level gym in Bolton has an entire floor dedicated to pumping iron. Tyson and the team will do strength and conditioning work in there most mornings.

Glove Rating: 1

4. One-Handed Press Ups

 

Tyson Fury doing one-handed push-ups in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)

 

Core work, and more specifically press-ups, are a vital component in any boxer’s training. Your core is where your punching power comes from, and a solid core protects the fighter from damaging bodyshots.

One-handed press-ups supposedly create an unstable platform that makes your body recruit more muscles to compensate for the imbalance. In Rocky, Balboa is seen grimacing his way through 50-odd single-handers with coach Mickey and another fella watching. He even throws in a couple of clapping press-ups.

We got Peter and co-manager Mervyn Turner to look on and encourage Tyson – not that he needed it, he powered through 20 before we even started shooting.

Peter thought they were “a waste of time when you can get more benefit from two”. Drop and give us 30 then Tyson.

Glove Rating: 2

5. Stair Sprints

  

Tyson Fury running up steps in a Rocky-style training montage (Malcolm Griffiths)

 

If there is one enduring sequence from the entire Rocky series, it’s the man sprinting up the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, pumping his fists in triumph when he reaches the top. It’s an iconic feel-good moment in cinema history. The steps were dubbed the ‘Rocky Steps’ in the early 1980s, and there’s even been a bronze statue of our hero erected at the bottom.

We made do with the Bolton Town Hall steps. Tyson is a giant of a man, but he sprinted up and down as fast and sprightly as you like, hardly breaking sweat. He told us that when he trained in Belgium, Uncle Peter had the team running up a monster flight of steps twice a week for 45 minutes at a time. “I was the fastest, but the smaller lads could fly up them, too.”

Peter is obviously a fan and said when it comes to building cardio fitness, steps are king. 

Glove Rating: 5 

Final Verdict

What have we learned, with Tyson’s help? Some of Rocky’s methods are not practical – but Fury is a pragmatist and would do anything to become world champion.

“If you didn’t have the facilities, this stuff would work a treat. If I had no other way to become the champ, I’d charm the chickens, squat jump with the log and hit the pig every day.

“And it’s not just about the training. It’s about the human within and how much they want to achieve their dream. Rocky knew that, didn’t he?”

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