The Left Hook: Filling the Gap with Sugar Ray Leonard Masterclass

sb-improving-hook-srl-logo-150pxHow can you improve your left hook with tips from a masterclass by Sugar Ray Leonard?








1. Initial level

2. Tip 1: pivot

3. Tip 2: shoulder snap

4. Tip 3: hook

5. Improvement



Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the best boxing technicians ever, has given an open workshop recently [1]. What can we learn from just one minute video? A lot. For your convenience, we have transformed this workshop into a step by step guide for an average guy on improving the technique of the left hook.

The gap between the theory and the reality

On the surface, there are no hidden secrets in how to throw the left hook. The principles are explained more or less the same way by most coaches [2-5]:

  1. Maximum leverage
  2. Weight transfer

Below is an example how a relatively famous coach, Kenny Weldon, illustrates these principles:


Kenny Weldon demonstrating basic principles of the left hook

By no means, we are trying to discredit such a proven coach as Kenny Weldon. The purpose is to indicated that there is a huge gap between the theoretical principles and practical details. Consider a recent famous example of Danny “Swift” Garcia, you do not have to be an expert to see big differences between what coach explains and how things are done actually:


Danny “Swift” Garcia KO’es Eric Moralez with a textbook left

This article is not intended to explain the left hook technique in all details. SugarBoxing is working on it too, but here we simply show some gems with which you can make your hook better.

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Initial level

Majority of beginners execute the technique of the left hook similarly to this student:


Example of how majority of people execute the left hook

There is no point in blaming anybody for the mistakes. People are just taught this way nowadays. The question is how to build upon what you already have to improve the technique?

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Notice, that both Kenny Weldon and the student from examples above are hopping from one leg to another. Nobody claims it is wrong. This is one of legitimate ways to set body weight in motion [6]. The problem is if you want a hook to have more snap, you’d rather use a pivot [7,8].

Torso twist

Use the muscles on the right side of your body to torque your left side around:


Twist torso to begin

Add the left hip

Torso twist causes your left foot to pivot. The left foot pivots on the toe, the leg turns, the hip turns:


Pivot on the left toe

All together


Sugar Ray Leonard consequently adds torso and left hip pivot to the hooking motion

Notice while the hip and the torso begin to move, keep your left shoulder in its original position as long as possible. This is related to the next tip.

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Shoulder Snap

The reason to begin with the hip and the torso, not the arm, is to establish the shoulder snap. It is the tension you are creating in the shoulder that causes the arm whip towards the target:


Sugar Ray Leonard showing the shoulder snap

That this phase is missing in the example of Kenny Weldon and the student.

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Natural question on the definition

If you accept the definition of the hook by Kenny Weldon from above example, you may raise a natural question: why such a punch is called “the hook” actually? Where is this hook-like part in it that gives it its name? On the surface, an uppercut seems to have more of this hooking look in it. The answer is that what Kenny Weldon shows is more a looping punch, not hooking one.

No looping

Sugar Ray Leonard suggest his student not to loop:


Sugar Ray Leonard advises against looping the hook

Looping happens when you extend your shoulder towards the target and do not keep it closer to your body. SugarBoxing is not against looping punches. In the framework of a hook, you need shorter and snappier arm movements.

Hooking motion

When Kenny Weldon and the student are looping their hook, their fists stop half way, not reaching the other side of the body. Notice how Sugar Ray Leonard suggest to executes the final stage of the hook with this “closing the door” movements in the end:


Closing the door movement of the fist in the finishing stage of the left hook

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Sugar Ray Leonard ends showing the full hooking motion:


The complete technique of the left hook by Sugar Ray Leonard

Pay attention that it has all the technique elements described above, it is not jerky, but movements look smooth and fluid. If you trust in the champ, these are what needed when practicing punches in air.

Improvement comparison

Now lets compare the beginning and the last stage of the student progress after he picked up some of Sugar Ray Leonard tips:


The improved technique of the student after he picked up some tips

It is far from being perfect, but the punch has definitely gotten the looks of the hook Sugar Ray Leonard and Danny Garcia demonstrate. Previously, the body, the legs and the arm moved separately. Now it has got the whole motion like elements of a chain. Interestingly, it took just a minute for Sugar Ray Leonard to significantly improve the technique of the student. Some people are still hooking the old way for years.

Last words

SugarBoxing does not offer you a remedy or a magic solution. No matter how many explanations are here and how detailed they are, there will be a gap between the theory and the reality that you should master on your own. We can only help you to be aware of such a gap.

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1. – Lessons in Prague

2. Kenny Weldon how to punch part 1

3. Boxing Great Lamon Brewster on How to Throw a Powerfull Hook

4. Title Boxing Vol DVD Vol. 1-23, 5 The Left hook; Freddie Roach on the left hook

5. Boxing – Left Hook – Working on Range – Бокс – Boxeo – 복싱 – Boxen

6. Jack Dempsey. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey (1950). download pdf

7. Edwin L. Haislet. Boxing (1968) download pdf

8. Saddoboxing Forum: The Left Hook Gap

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2 Responses to The Left Hook: Filling the Gap with Sugar Ray Leonard Masterclass

  1. CET3 says:

    Great stuff you have here. Kenny Weldon sucks, He was a phony as a fighter, paying professional pugs to lose. Look at the records of the guys he fought. So he did luck out & got training in a gym that got him some cred. If you look at his training stuff, it is either real basic – or anything not real basic he is wrong about. It is not good. There’s a great deal of crap out there today. Everybody is a boxing trainer now. There’s 50 in every small town or city. This site is right on though. You’ve an eye and a mind for this sport. Good show!

  2. Coach says:

    Like Andre Ward just said about comments by Floyd Mayweather – stop forever being the critic – you have the ability to build boxing. Kenny Weldon has produced many national champions and worked with may pro champions and made a great contribution to the sport.
    Looking closely at the Danny Garcia video he transfers his weight from right to left and back to right as he deliver his hook, very similar to what Kenny Weldon does. Danny’s elbow rises as he throws the hook and turns it over just like KW does. But if you look close Danny also cocks his hook back,dropping his hand behind which is incorrect and not the way SRL does it. The type of hook SRL is using is and inside hook right out of the Joe Louis playbook. The elbow stays close to the body and it is the hips and core that create the power not the shoulder. However, Joe Louis hooks came up at an angle. He never raised his elbow much and knocked opponents out with the his legendary 6″ punch/hook. Look closely. SRL’s hook would have to be aimed at an opponent who was coming up under him. He is standing up and delivers the hook in line with his solar plexis. Again, he is emphasizing one thing, like Weldon, and slipping on another. If you watch SRL throw hooks in one of his fights they don’t look like the video.
    When Kenny Weldon demonstrates he emphasizes certain points and in this video what he mostly emphasizing is the weight transfer from front to back as the hook is thrown. And yes, he does tend to loop his punch but it’s done at slow speed for visual effect. I doubt very much that he threw his hooks like that when he was boxing. Everything gets tightened and shortened as in the SRL video which has been slowed down. However, the demonstration was done at speed. So it’s really not a fair comparison.

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