There is an old rule in boxing that fighters should avoid sex during training camp.
The edict was summed up on screen when Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill rasps out "WOMEN WEAKEN LEGS."
Incidentally, the Mickey character was based on Rocky Marciano's trainer Charley Goldman, a real life colorful, brilliant, Jewish bantamweight known for tieing a fighters feet together with string.
A deep thinker even older than Mickey offered a similar sentiment:
"Olympic competitors before races should avoid sexual intimacy."
-Plato, 444 B.C
UFC women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey disagreed during a recent appearance on the JIM Rome show.
“For girls it raises your testosterone," explained Rousey. "so I try to have as much sex as possible before I fight actually. Not with like everybody, I don’t put out like a Craigslist ad or anything, but if I got a steady I’m going to be like ‘yo, fight time’s coming up’."
"A lot of the studies that I've read about it have not really substantiated the claim that if you abstain from having sex for that long that it actually raises your testosterone; you actually might start producing less. I think, it's like, you can't go [beep beep] somebody that day."
Rousey is right; ESPNW breaks down the science.
A study from Georgia State University's Department of Psychology sides with Rousey, stating that testosterone levels in both males and females "increased across the evening when there was intercourse and decreased when there was none."
Emmanuele A. Jannini, a professor of endocrinology at the University of L'Aquila in Italy, agrees. He says sex stimulates the production of testosterone, thus boosting aggression.
"After three months without sex, which is not so uncommon for some athletes, testosterone dramatically drops to levels close to children's levels," Jannini said. "Do you think this may be useful for a boxer?"
The fine folks at the Cardiology Center and Medical Policlinics at University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, seem to agree. Their study on male athletes reported "sexual activity had no detrimental influence on the maximal workload achieved," but "the recovery capacity of an athlete could be affected if he had sexual intercourse approximately two hours before a competition event."
There are no studies yet that can accurately predict the psychological effects of pregfight sex. It may be different for every athlete. One might lose focus if she hits the sheets too close to fight time; another may be more relaxed and confident after some quality time with a special friend.
If Rousey's perfect 6-0 record in MMA is any indication, she's got it all figured out. She and her male counterparts should be just fine as long as they don't kick it too close to kickoff, suffer any sex-related injuries or spend all night at the bar looking for a suitable partner.
As Hall of Fame outfielder and manager Casey Stengel once famously said, "Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It's staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in."
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