Q&A with World Class Boxing Coach, Socrates Celestial

Socrates Celestial, also known as ‘Coach Soc‘, has been a boxing coach for the last 27 years. Aside from possibly having the greatest name in boxing, he has many impressive professional accolades. He’s an AIBA 2-star coach and has been appointed as the Provincial Coach of Ontario for boxing since 2015. Coach Soc has worked with boxers who have been successful at the local, provincial, national and international levels.

As well as coaching professional athletes, Coach Soc teaches ‘World Class’ boxing classes at West End Athletic Club.  He teaches all Thursday classes starting at 6:45 a.m.  We asked him how he came to have such a diverse coaching career and how he approaches his work:

How did you get into boxing? When did you decide to become a coach?

In 1993, a friend referred me to go to a local club. I loved it immediately. I tried to box for a couple of years but was unsuccessful. I broke my hand, and while I was recovering, they actually asked me to help do some drills. By the time my hand healed, I completely fell in love with coaching. 

When I was asked to go pro as a boxer in 2001, I declined and said, “you know what, I’d rather coach”. Instead of going into pro fighting, I went into pro coaching. For someone my age at the time, it was unheard of because people usually spend a lifetime as boxers and retire into coaching. I found a deep love for it and wanted to coach right away.

 

What do you enjoy most about teaching people to box? Or coaching professionals?

No matter what the level is, it’s always about being able to transfer to people the passion I have for boxing. When people get something, it really gets me excited. When people understand how something works – when I can see that someone feels that much safer or becomes that much more confident – I’m filling them with something positive, and that’s what I love about coaching. People are receiving and utilizing that positivity for their own lifestyle. For me, that is just priceless. 

What do you think is the most important thing for people to know when they start boxing?

That it’s going to be difficult, as all things in life are that you want to start for the first time. That the best and the fastest way to get good at something is consistency. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, if you consistently make the classes, if you continuously try and look to exceed who you were last week, you will get better. At the end of the day, it’s all worth it. 

What do you think makes boxing so unique as a way of working out?

It utilizes several skills of your body: power, strength, agility, balance, speed – different things that your body needs athletically. That transforms the physical body and the mentality of the person, and overall, when you mix those two together at such an intense level, spiritually – and not speaking religiously here – spiritually, the person feels stronger. They feel better. They start to glow. 

Boxing is something that has to open someone’s mind and even without competing in a ring, you can make yourself into the most beautiful athlete without ever competing at all. 

 

What are your career highlights?

I’ve had really good results with female boxers. I love coaching female boxers because they listen, and they don’t have the ego that males have. Having an ego is a good thing, having too much ego is a bad thing. Women want to know what they should be doing technically. 

I had a fighter by the name of Natasha Spence, and that was my first world title. She received a world title belt from our efforts. I worked with the Canadian National team as an assistant coach. We got one girl to not only win a gold at the Worlds but she also got the best female fighter of the whole tournament. That is one out of 80 women. Those are big highlights for me, from something I worked really hard on.  

What do you like most about coaching at the West End Athletic Club?

West End Athletic Club is unique from every other gym I’ve worked in, and I’ve worked in gyms my whole life. Number one, it’s clean. The facility itself is amazing. It has clean new equipment, it doesn’t smell like your typical gym, and it’s just fantastic to be there. It’s changing the way that boxing clubs should look. What I’m used to are dingy, old basement gyms. 

It’s also a family business. It’s so friendly. The co-owner, Vinny Cappuccitti, is driven, and he is looking to make a new mark for himself. I love to work with people who have that kind of drive. For me, it’s a constant battle not just with other companies or gyms but within ourselves. There’s no reason that we can’t always be better. Everybody can take a step back and say, “what can I do to make myself a better person, a better coach or a better professional?”. From Vinny, that’s what you get – someone who is striving to be better every single day, and it’s really refreshing to be around.

You can keep up to date with Coach Soc’s work, from his Instagram account here.

Article by Olivia Hows, journalist/digital content creator