Executive Fight Night V: Gregor Zetsche


Photo by Kohji Shiiki

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

Originally I’m from Germany. I currently work as a general manager at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Japan. I moved to Tokyo in September 2014. When I agreed to take on the job, I actually had never been to Japan. But by now, I have grown to be a huge fan of this country.

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

I have about two years of boxing experience, but I’ve never had a boxing fight so far. The most I’ve done is sparring with various people from my boxing class.

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

Yes, I’m participating for the first time. Since it is an annual event, this was the first possible time for me to join. I found out about this event by googling “manager boxing Tokyo.” After reading the description, I felt like this would be a great challenge for me to take on, and EFN provides a safe and fun environment to do so. Plus you don’t often have the chance to help others by getting punched in the face. I have high regard for what Shine On! Kids is doing, and I’m glad I can help out. My fight lasts six minutes. These kids have to fight every day.

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

For the first half of the three-month boot camp, I thought this boxing fight would not pose a big challenge to me in terms of endurance. I have been keeping fit over the past year, so my starting point was pretty good, and I felt that I would easily get through the three two-minute rounds. I was proven wrong when we started doing our first sparring sessions, where I came to realize that two minutes can be a very long time. Working with practice mitts with a coach is completely different from actually fighting someone who punches back. But I am confident I can improve enough in the remaining time until the fight to give a strong showing throughout all three rounds.

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.

I practice twice a week for one (intense) hour. The coaches at Club 360 know how to keep you on your toes and sweating the entire time, so the boxing practice itself is already quite intense. In addition, I have been jogging twice a week. I stopped doing strength training, as I feel I have enough power and instead need to concentrate on endurance. Also, mental training plays a crucial role, so I have been playing out the fight in my head when I’m driving, brushing my teeth, or standing in the shower in the morning.

What has been the most difficult part of the training?

Fitting in the practice with work has proven quite difficult. My work duties cannot fall short because of EFN, so when there is a conflict between boxing and work, work tends to win out. But I try to make the best of the circumstances, for example by taking my boxing gloves on my business trip to Germany this week.

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?

Athletics is not my forte. I know how to prepare for an important presentation or an exam, not for a boxing fight. But I have come to realize that, in fact, all three are quite comparable. When preparing for a math exam, you have to stay on top of the material all year long, and shortly before writing the exam you intensify your studies to the point where you feel most confident about having learned enough. The same goes for boxing. You don’t stay at your maximum level throughout the year. Instead, you ramp up your training as you get closer to the match to make sure you are at your best when the day finally comes. I surprise myself every day with the improvements I have been making, which proves to me that, with enough dedication, any goal can be reached.

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

I expect to have prepared enough by this time so when I step in the ring, I will feel completely confident. I want my opponent to feel that he is in my ring, and for the following three rounds I will make him regret having entered.

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

Sure, but for now I am focusing on the upcoming event this June.

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

Start training today. Even if you don’t make it into EFN, boxing practice will be the best workout you have ever tried. And it will increase your chances of being picked for the fight next year.

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.