Bugzy Malone’s devotion to boxing isn’t simply a means of ensuring he’s in great shape for his one-million plus social media followers. For him, training in the ring goes much deeper and is intrinsically linked to his life as a music artist. Growing up in the drug-riddled districts of ‘Gunchester’, as his hometown of Manchester became known, Bugzy (real name Arron Davis) was dealt a tough hand from the start. An absent father left him with the role model influence of a gangster uncle, who Bugzy later witnessed being shot in face. Excluded from school at 14, within two years he was serving time at HMP Stoke Heath.
On his release he’d acquired the Bugzy nickname and a desire to turn his back on criminality. If his salvation, through a local boxing club and old-school mentor, sounds like a cliché, it’s not one that he’s got any hang-ups about. A decade on from his prison sentence, the puncher-cum-performer is one of the most successful independent artists in the UK and a man who find that stepping into the boxing ring is still the best way for him to prepare for tough challenges…
RSNG You’re about to embark on the biggest UK Grime tour to date, performing to packed stadiums, so why are your preparing for it in a boxing ring?
BUGZY MALONE, GRIME ARTIST ‘Boxing training is crucial to both my physical and mental fitness. I grew up admiring boxers like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. I took it up properly when I left prison and it’s helped get me on the right path to where I want to be. I’m training now with my focus on the tour, and here in London it’s at the BXR gym, where Anthony Joshua trains too.’
‘Training is conducive to being creative – it makes you feel positive as well as the physical benefits’
RSNG You’re out of breath, has it been a tough session?
BM ‘Yeah, today’s been a difficult one, but it needs to be. It has to be challenging. We’ve done intense circuits followed by round after round on the punch bag. I need to be at my physical peak when I’m performing. I feel like I’m about ready. My training helps massively towards the performing aspect of things.’
RSNG Boxing isn’t the only training you do though?
BM ‘No, for me a good training week looks like a weights session in the morning about an hour after a solid breakfast. At the gym I’ll isolate a muscle, chest say, and superset bench presses with another exercise. Then I’ll do some core work and a bit of cardio – not masses, around 10 minutes cardio each session. I’ll have three meals through the day, around three hours apart. Then I’m back in the gym in the evening to do the boxing sessions.’
RSNG Two different training sessions a day, how does that help you as a performer?
BM ‘Training is conducive to being creative. It makes you feel positive as well as the physical benefits. It’s important to be positive – when you can visualise something, you need to get that correct balance; a positive mindset plus the energy output training gives you. Get that right and you can materialise whatever you want.’
RSNG Do you manage to split the time between writing and boxing?
BM ‘I’ve found that during times when I’m deep into the creative side of a project I need to go into a deep emotional place, digging into certain stories and past experiences. I’ll be honest with you it’s something you can’t just snap out off. It’s just that it’s hard when you get into a spot in your mind and you’re still in that groove when you’re working on an idea – you can’t just stop to go to the boxing ring for a session. At that point the song is more important than the training. That’s why I’m happy to be at a stage where I am right now, preparing for the tour where the body is the focus.’
RSNG Bodies need fuelling too and you have a sports nutritionist in your corner, so is diet a big factor for you?
BM ‘Now I’m reasonably successful I like to be able to enjoy my success. I know what a bad diet does to the human body, it can do a lot of damage, so to enjoy things I think a lot more about my food these days. When I started out boxing I didn’t really worry too much about what I ate. I was around 11.5 stone and burned through all I ate. Now I need to maintain my fighting weight, around 13.5 stone, I need to keep my muscle mass whilst performing and training, the nutritionist, Jason Rickaby, from PhD Nutrition helps me to do this.’
RSNG Supplements have replaced the old backstage riders, then – what kind of things do you eat?
BM ‘I’ve been training for a long time, my training is on point and I know the right choices to make. My food plan is created by Jason so it’s the kind of things an athlete has to eat and drink. Pre-fuelling is solid meals, then have energy snack bars during the day, BCAAs [Branch Chain Amino Acids] during and whey protein recovery shakes after training and after a performance.’
WHAT NEXT? Take a virtual tour of the BXR gym in Marylebone London, training venue for World Champion Anthony Joshua, among others. Then watch Bugzy Malone in the official video for Run, taken from his debut album.
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.