Tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to Japan.

I work for Robert Walters Japan as an associate director in the contracts division. I manage three teams that cover massive parts of the market—basically everything non-IT related, but focused on non-permanent positions (haken, keiyaku, and shokai yotei haken, if you are interested in the Japanese terms). I grew up in Oklahoma and went to the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a degree in Professional Writing. I moved to Seattle for a couple years before coming to Japan, primarily as an opportunity to see the world and live in a culture that was as completely different as possible. I actually knew very little about Japan when I decided to move here, but that was part of the adventure.

Do you have any experience fighting prior to Executive Fight Night?

Zero, actually. I’ve played team sports throughout my life, and continue to do so today, but haven’t done anything like this since I was six years old doing Karate in Oklahoma. (Think that scene from Napoleon Dynamite. I can’t remember whether my teacher had American-flag pants or not). This was for something like three months before I got bored and quit.

Is this your first time participating in EFN? Why did you decide to step into the ring this year?

I’ve known about it for a couple years, and one of my colleagues here at Robert Walters fought last year; but I never dreamed until recently that I’d be dumb enough to do the same thing. I wanted to attend last year, but I was traveling in the U.K. at the time. As to why … early midlife crisis Towards the end of last year, a couple of my colleagues started doing boxing training for fun and fitness. I had been playing basketball and doing a lot of running to stay in shape, but I can run for about 30 minutes before I get incredibly bored. Plus, I’ve done the FIT and 24-hour charity runs the last couple of years, and my legs had just about had it (shin splints, plantar fasciitis). I decided that boxing could be a really good way to up the fitness level, but get out of what was a boring routine. Punching things turned out to be very, very satisfying. My trainer was the first to suggest EFN, and once the idea wormed its way into my brain there was no going back. My competitive nature took over and led me here.

Tell us about your training for the fight. What were your expectations going in? How has the training differed from what you expected?

I do intense boxing training three days per week—twice with the EFN group and once with my personal instructor. The EFN training focuses on strength, fitness, and sparring, while I work on a lot more technique with my guy. He also has me doing some extra sparring and fitness work. It’s his personal mission to destroy me and rebuild me into the Six Million Dollar Man. I train on my own an additional two or three days per week. That varies between running, body weight exercises, and the gym.

The change to boxing from other sports was pretty jarring. I was in good shape, but not boxing shape. The intensity of the training was surprising. The closer we get to the fight, the higher the intensity level gets pushed. That’s partly the trainers, but also the fighters. When we spar, I can see the determination in everyone’s eyes. We’re here for the cause, but make no mistake … we want to win.

Please explain the process of training, the steps you have gone through each week, and how that preparation has progressed as you’ve gone deeper into training.

It all starts with the basics. The first month was a lot of fitness and how to throw basic punches. Keep your hands up, defense, etc. Now we’ve been sparring since mid-April, and the level of training has gone up across the board: a lot more work on the heavy bag to build strength; a little more technical work on combos. Nothing is too complicated because, on the actual night, it will be a miracle if someone doesn’t lose their minds and try to dropkick their opponent. With all that adrenaline—plus the crowd and the atmosphere—basic combos are probably all we need.

What has been the most difficult part of the training?

Not being about ten years younger! I’m carrying a number of small injuries that need a week or two off to heal, and I don’t have that time to give. Mentally, it’s a challenge to train five or six days per week, work, and maintain your family life as well. I’m pushing myself as hard as I can, and there have been points where fatigue (mental and physical) have set in. It’s important to recognize it early and take a day off or change your routine to avoid exhaustion.

On a personal level, how has training for EFN changed you? Is there anything about your personal routine, your health, or your attitude towards work that has changed as a result?

I’m in better shape than I’ve been in since high school; arguably ever. Learning to take a punch to the face and stomach (or indeed this week, the groin) seems like an important lesson. We all take the occasional figurative punch to the face, and the strength required to get past either—real or figurative—somehow seems related to me. I’ve always thought that I was a resilient person, and I think I’ve proven that in a variety of different ways. This is no exception. Win or lose, I’m hoping to maintain my motivation and continue boxing after the fight. Perhaps in lesser dosages, but still.

What are you expecting when you step into the ring on June 19?

Nothing and everything! I know from speaking to people that have done it that it is an overwhelming experience, so I’ll need to fight to keep my focus. Aside from that, I’m mainly thinking about my opponent and what my strategy will be, apart from surviving. We don’t find out until quite late who we are fighting, although I’ve got it narrowed down to a couple of options. I’m expecting it to be challenging and difficult, no matter what the outcome.

Do you plan to participate in EFN again next year or sometime down the road?

Well, if I lose then I have to don’t I? If I win, then we’ll see. As I said earlier, I’d like to carry on boxing for fitness, so I’ll be keeping my options open.

Do you have any advice for someone considering trying out next year?

Do it! If you are even thinking about it, that probably means you should at least try out. There isn’t a lot to lose, and at least you’ll figure out whether or not you are up for it. That said, it’s a huge commitment and not something to be taken lightly. The trainers and organizers need people prepared to see it all the way through, and at the end of the day there are a bunch of kids counting on you. That’s the heartbreaking thing behind all this, and the reason it’s such a great event. Win or lose, Shine On! Kids wins. And that’s more important than my pride!

Executive Fight Night V will take place Friday, June 19, 2015 at 6:30pm at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. For ticket information contact ticketing@ginjaninjas.com or visit www.executivefightnight.com.