Terence Crawford’s record is unblemished partly because his work ethic has been unmatched since high school.

Unbeaten at 37-0, Crawford’s held world championships in three weight classes, including the WBO welterweight title since 2018. As a light-welterweight champion, he’s also one of only five boxers in history to hold all four major world titles (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO) simultaneously. He has been named “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2014, and by ESPN in 2014 and 2017.

Crawford, currently ranked second behind Canelo Alvarez as the world’s pound-for-pound best, is known for his combination of hand speed and punching power, along with the uncanny ability to be able to effectively strike from both orthodox to southpaw.

His near-flawless abilities can be attributed to the early morning workout regimen while in high school. While his classmates were still hitting the snooze button, Crawford says he was going toe to to with some of Florida’s best fighters before sunrise.

“I didn’t just speak about the being the best,” Crawford says. “I woke up every day of my life, before school at 4 a.m. to work out and eat right. I’d go to Miami and train with pro athletes and be their sparring partner.”

Outside the ring, the champ has developed into a successful entrepreneur as the co-founder and CEO of  Pixelbird, a company helping athletes take ownership of their digital likeness. Crawford’s philanthropic efforts include co-founding B&B Boxing Academy, which helps at-risk reach their full potential in and out of sports. Helping not only youth, but also athletes whose careers are nearing a close, develop a long-term, post-fight career is an important project for him.

“Some great fighters were never taught to map out life after boxing,” Crawford says. “They were never taught to invest and plan when they retired so they didn’t end up broke in five years, especially after living a high-price lifestyle as a pro. I would tell them to have fun but be smart and make wise decisions and save. Learn to invest, and surround yourself with people you can trust.”

Now at age 33, and with a highly anticipated title bout against Shawn Porter set for Nov. 20 in Las Vegas, “Bud” keeps finding ways to keep himself motivated to continue fighting. His family he says will always remain the No. 1 reason for continuing pushing himself beyond greatness, but as he explains in this week’s Winning Strategy, it can also be a mix of adrenaline and calmness — including a fondness for yoga — as a starting point toward generating success.

“I never felt satisfied where I was at even though I feel as if I have a Hall of Fame career,” he says. “I now look at my kids and I say, they’re the reason why I kept pushing forward.”

Boxer Terrance Crawford weighing in before his boxing championship fight
Courtesy of Terrance Crawford

Emotional Rescue

Being able to handle your emotions can play a big role in everything you do in life. And it can be hard because sometimes they can get the best of you and make you do things that you normally wouldn’t do if you were calm. But if you can keep your emotions in check 99% of the time, it’s gonna play in your best interest.

I have to admit I’ve let my emotions get the best of me in the ring, most recently when I fought Egidijus Kavaliauskas [in 2019]. After he caught me with a good shot early on, I completely neglected the game plan and decided instead to go fight fire with fire. My coaches certainly didn’t like that side of me, but I felt like, I kind of turned into a different person that night — I wanted to prove a point.

Even though I came out on top [a 9th-round TKO], it wasn’t my best fight. I felt like I could’ve made it easier, but instead I made it more difficult than I needed to. Even though my coaches stressed that I stick with the game plan, I just ignored it that night. I’ve learned since that fight the importance of keeping my emotions intact.

Heart of the matter

In boxing, having heart goes a long way, especially against an opponent who may be more skilled but with a weaker work ethic. You can have a fighter with all the talent in the world but as soon as he gets hit with a big shot, everything goes out the window and he’s now in survival mode.

Sometimes you may look at someone with enormous talent who may match up perfectly with an opponent in a venue that favors them and you never know what could happen. This one time he may get a first-round knockout for a title. But moving up the ladder without a real regimen, I’m not so sure. You’ve got to be dedicated and committed. You’ve got to be serious about your profession to be a world champion in the ring because you may come across a person who is determined and strong-willed. He may not have the same skill level, but he’s got heart and is in tremendous shape, and he’s going to wear you out and beat you in a fight you shouldn’t have lost because you weren’t prepared.

Do what works for you

I follow a regular training routine, but it changes to the level and caliber of fighter I’m preparing to face next. We wake up and get our run in, go home, eat breakfast, then rest before heading to the gym. Then we come home, have dinner, rest again, then maybe get up and do another workout. And then the next day we do it all over again, but maybe in a different way, like adding in a swim instead of running.  We’re always looking for better and smarter ways to getting ready for our next fight.

One of my favorites now has been doing yoga — I’ve been doing this since about 2013. I always had a problem with stretching — I never enjoyed it. So it became like, let’s find a way to stretch in which it becomes a workout. We began doing yoga and the benefits have been amazing. Is there one move that stands out for fighters? No, they’re all important, in helping your breathing. It’s so important going into a tough fight. You gotta know when to breathe, when to tighten up, when to inhale, exhale, and how to relax when the pressure is coming at you. Think of it like swimming: You have to know when to come up and how to breathe and then get back underwater. These breathing exercises help you in the ring because when you’re throwing punches you’re breathing, when you’re bringing em back, you’re inhaling.

Always play like a champion

World boxing champion Terrance Crawford weighing in and showing his muscles
Courtesy of Terrance Crawford

Of all the great fighters out there, I always feel that I’m the best out there. I’m always willing to put my record on the line to prove it. So I just always carried that chip on my shoulder, even when I was a little kid believing I was always better than the next person, no matter what sport it is. In basketball I always wanted to guard the best, I wanted to wrestle the best, and I wanted to spar better fighters because growing up, going up against the best will make me better.

Sure, there were better people than me in certain sports, but I always handled my own.  Five on five, they may win the game, but I’ll beat ‘em one-on-one because that’s just my, my heart, my determination, my will to win, uh, to not let the next man beat me in nothing. You got some people that’s better than me and and may win the game you know, but I’m still gonna hold my own and whatever I do. And that’s how competition should be approached.

Passing along knowledge

I always tell kids that anything is possible if you want it bad enough.  A lot of young kids coming up in these neighborhoods with poverty feel like they have no hope because of the situation they’re in. I tell them they have to find their why, and this takes faith, motivation and determination.

A lot of people waste time talking about it, but put no work or actions behind the things they say. I always encourage people, if you want to do something, go out and do it no matter what people tell you. Study to the fullest and learn as much as possible about what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Put all your time and energy into that one thing you really truly love and just do it — that’s what I did. My family members were always telling me to go to college and have a Plan B in case boxing didn’t work, but I’d always tell them, this is my dream — to become a world champion and that’s what I did. I talked it into reality, and I believe if a person manifested in a way to where they did what they really wanted in their heart, they can accomplish anything.

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