The Big Interview | 23/12/2020

Boxing Day Special With Nedeljko Andelic

By Alba D'souza
Copywriter, SSSPORTS.COM

Growing up in an unsafe neighbourhood often means learning to defend yourself. Like a scene right out of a movie, Nedeljko Andelic’s story is no different. To survive his rough neighbourhood, he understood very early on in life, that he needed to learn to protect himself. When Rocky hit the theatres, he knew exactly how.

1. Tell us about your fitness journey.

I come from Serbia, where we’re very inclined towards sports. In fact, not pursuing a sport at a young age is almost culturally unacceptable.

Since my generation grew up on karate and ninja movies, everyone aspired to become a ‘master-level’ fighter. I guess that’s how I was inspired too. Initially, I took up karate for a few years but always felt the need for something more. I stumbled upon a small martial arts institute in my town that taught Boxing, Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. This place eventually went on to become my second home.

2. Was your family keen on your choice to move into fitness? And how has your journey been from Serbia to Dubai?

It has been a great and unpredictable journey. Well like all parents, mine wanted the best for me and encouraged me to pursue the world of business. To keep them happy I completed my university degree in Professional Business and Trade, but it didn’t feel right. But one day when an opportunity presented itself, I took it up and never looked back.

I’m not a fan of social media, but I got to Dubai because of it. An acquaintance saw a recruitment post for fitness coaches and sent it across to me. On the quiet, without informing my family, I interviewed for the position. When I got the job, I called up my father and said, “Yo paps, get my suitcases ready, I’m going to Dubai, I got a job!”. My old man thought I was kidding, but he was proud that I had finally found my own path.

3. When and why did you decide to become a coach?

I guess it came to me naturally. Given that I am well trained, going professional was the next logical step. I’m grateful that everything worked out really well for me. There were hard times along the way but when you truly love something, you don’t feel the tough times, you keep your eyes on the goal and that’s that.

Nedeljko Andelic
Nedeljko Andelic
4. So, tell us the basics of Boxing, Kickboxing and MMA? 

In boxing you are allowed to only use hands; when you add kicks to it, you get kickboxing. Unlike the previous 2 disciplines that are played only standing up, MMA is a combination of standing-up, ground game and wrestling techniques as well.

5. What are the different concepts in boxing?    

You can split the concepts into 3 categories:

  • Train for health and fitness
  • Train and compete as an amateur
  • Take it up full-time and compete as a professional fighter
6. What is the right age to begin training? Why should one train in boxing?

The younger, the better. I believe that sports should be made mandatory for kids. Training in boxing or any other martial art form offers you so many benefits that most are unaware of the good it can do.

7. Is boxing a dangerous sport, or does it come down to good technique?

Injuries do occur, just like they would in any other sport. A broken nose or wrist and elbow related issues, are quite common. Most injuries can be avoided by warming up at the beginning and stretching at the end. Simple slow rotational movements of the joints and light cardio are often enough.

Of course, injuries are not always up to us, especially in the ring. If there is a risk of severe injury, the judge can stop a fight, your corner can throw in a towel or even you can give up and forfeit at any time. We can simply minimize the chance of getting injured but not completely eliminate it.

Nowadays boxing and other combat sports are far safer than they were 10 years ago due to a dramatic shift in the way individuals train. Previously, people believed that the harder they sparred or trained, the tougher they would be for a fight. Unfortunately, this led to concussions which resulted in quicker and easier knock-outs simply because the brain needs time to recover from all the training.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
8. Is it mind over adrenaline in boxing? Or is technique important?

Your mind has to control your emotions. When we train, we don’t just perfect our techniques but we deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way. This prepares our mind for when we get into a fight; At that point in the ring, we’re calm and relaxed because we’ve been there many times before.

Where technique is concerned, fluidity and dexterity are extremely important. The more you mix it up, the better a fighter you become. But above all, timing beats speed or power. During a fight, our brain undergoes so many calculations, that you have a split second to decide to not just land a good punch but your victory punch.

9. Do you have a secret go-to-move? Could you share your best boxing tips and tricks?

Yes – a double jab to make my opponent cover while I move sideways, followed by a big right hand. What this does is, since the opponent is blind for a few seconds, once he lowers his guard I’m no longer in the same place from when I started – it’s an element of surprise.

In boxing, the only way to take someone to the ground is to knock them down. Depending on the opponent, sometimes you may need to take your time and tire them out before you go for the final hit, which again may or may not happen.

Boxing is all about playing smart. Find your favourite boxer in the same weight category as yourself, and then try to mimic some of his/her moves. Remember, no two fighters are the same and everyone is unique, but that does not imply that you cannot use a move or technique, especially if it works. Improve and modify it to suit you. Give it your own ‘signature’.

10. What are the top 3 boxing rules that one must follow?
  • Protect yourself at all times
  • No hitting behind the head or below the belt
  • Follow and abide by the instructions and decisions of the judge
11. Who is your favourite boxer, that one person who you would love to fight?

My favourite boxer is Mike Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion in history. I would love to share the ring with him. It would be an honour and a dream come true.

12. Boxing is not for…

Boxing is actually for everybody, but it all boils down to your coach and how he or she channels your energy towards your goals.

13. Who or what keeps you motivated or inspires you?

I was in Italy a few years ago and was walking along the sea when I noticed an elderly gentleman, who seemed probably 100 years old, running very slowly on a track nearby. The expression on his face showed sheer determination and his dedication towards fitness. That changed my life completely. I knew I wanted to be like him until my last day.

14. Do you have a cheat meal/day?

We agreed that you wouldn’t ask me this question! Well, my weakness is Nutella. I eat it for a few days in a row and then feel so guilty that I seal up the jar and jump back into training. But, I need to have it in my fridge.

15. And finally, what is your health/fitness philosophy/mantra?

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain

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