Chad Milnes

Like playing a game of high-speed chess, but with padded gloves, Chad Milnes thrives on the strategies of boxing.

“I love solving problems. And the opponent in there is a problem I need to solve in nine minutes to get the victory,” he says.

To help reach those solutions, the 2014 Commonwealth Games lightweight representative has developed a toolbox of skillsets, techniques and formulas that he can draw on quickly. Because speed is a crucial tool in boxing.

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It all comes down to fractions of inches and fractions of seconds, Milnes explains.  “If you react too slow to a punch by that fraction of a second, it could be lights out. But if you have speed you can get away with a bit more. You can take a few more risks, and be able to get out before the consequences arrive,” the Auckland fighter says.  

He likens sparring in the ring to a game of high-speed chess - with two players, each trying to figure out what the other is going to do, each trying to lure the opponent into traps. “But the difference is, each player has different pieces,” he says.

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Speed enables Milnes to get out of difficult situations. “It means you can be places where you need to be, and you can put your opponent where you want them to be. Having good foot speed is important,” he says.  

Reaction speed is critical – you need to think on your feet, recognising a trap in time to escape. “It also enables you to setup traps quickly.”

Repetition is key to achieving speed, Milnes says - drilling moves over and over in the gym, and building up experience in the ring.

“It’s very formulaic – you’re looking to break down your opponent into a series of steps.” His formula: executing a move, anticipating your opponent’s reaction, then having an answer.

“The more you box, the more you’re able to recognise certain situations and input the right formula,” he says.

Losing focus, even for a split second, can leave you vulnerable. Milnes knows it only takes one punch to put him on the back foot. Loss of focus can also mean missing your opponent’s weaknesses, or exposing your own. Milnes uses a sports psychologist to help him sharpen his focus.

Before being introduced to boxing by friends, Milnes considered himself a bit lazy, playing a lot of computer games.  “But boxing has given me a real sense of self and confidence,” he says.  He would often get scared before fights, but after a few bouts, that fear disappeared.   

Boxing has also given him a new sense of pride. Giving it his all to qualify for his first Olympic Games in Rio, Milnes says every time he steps out into the ring to compete for his country makes him proud.

“To get to this point I was inspired by athletes, and I just want people to do what I did and take the risk and try to achieve their dreams,” he says. “To be able to go and represent New Zealand with the silver fern on my chest is incredible.” 

Rio 2016 Glasgow 2014 Chad Milnes Boxing
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