Working as a cutman to treat the bleeding and swelling to a boxer's face during a fight requires years of determination, training, and self discipline. The crude, but necessary, first aid a cutman applies in the 60 seconds between each round can make the difference between a win and a loss for a fighter. They have to know what they're doing. Although many state athletic boards require cutmen be licensed, a cutman does not need any formal training or a certificate to practice. Each cutman works as an independent contractor. There are three paths you can take to become a cutman: Fight as a boxer, work as a trainer, or take classes and and serve a long apprenticeship until you are professionally trained.
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Learn the ins, outs and intricacies of boxing by becoming a boxer. The career path of Al Gavin, who has been called the best cutman in the business ever, is not uncommon. Wanting to be a boxer, Gavin started going to Stillman's Gym, in New York City to get trained. After a few years in the ring he realized he would never be very good. However, quitting as a fighter didn't mean quitting the ring.
Educate yourself. Making the decsion to become a cutman after being a fighter is only the beginning of a long road. Take the skills you learned in the ring and apply them to studying fighters as they fight and as they're medically treated between rounds. Compile information and gain knowledge by questioning fighters, trainers, and other cutmen about every aspect of treating a fighter in a fight.
Hang out with fighters, offer your services to trainers and fighters and sometimes, as in the case of Gavin, spend many decades honing and perfecting your craft while offering your services for little or no money. Your reputation is your calling card. If you do good work as a cutman, and continue to learn, you'll get more work and eventually be regarded as a professional cutman.
Treat and coach fighters in their corners as a trainer. Trainers provide guidance, motivation, information, and sometimes medical first aid treatment, during fights. As a trainer, you'll have a front seat to watching how the cutman practices his trade because you'll be one of only three people — the boxer, the trainer and the cutman himself — in the corner between rounds.
Ask boxers, cutmen and other trainers questions to learn the nuances of the trade. Take a CPR and first aid class. Study anatomy and circulation. Let managers, fighters and cutmen who may impart information, or take you under their wing, know you're curious about the craft.
Serve an unofficial apprenticeship as a cutman while you continue to work as a trainer. Offer your services as a cutman, or assistant cutman, to managers, trainers, fighters and other cutmen. Take your time and ingratiate yourself with as many decision makers in boxing as possible and try to pick up as many assignments as a cutman as you can. It may take years but if you have skills, these efforts will eventually transform you from a trainer to a cutman.
Train specifically to become a professional cutman which is a a new route. Starting in 2010 cutmen formed as a loosely organized group and offered cutman seminars and classes. You can take a two-day seminar through the National Trainer & Cutman Association for $500 (at time of publication) — or $375 if you're already certified in CPR and first aid.The seminars teach basic cutman techniques, including using specific tools to treat cuts and reduce swelling, first aid, CPR and hand wrapping techniques.
Take the seminar which enrolls you as a one-year member of the Junior Cutman Association, a group lobbying for better wages and rules for licensing and overseeing cutmen. Through the association you can take advantage of the structured apprenticeship program and become trained by experienced cutmen. The program allows you to literally sit next to cutmen as they work and to also talk to them and ask them about their craft.
Prepare to apprentice as a junior cutman for more than two years. The junior cutman's association stipulates each apprentice must work 5,000 supervised hours before they can work in a fighter's corner. Spend those years making contacts, making yourself known as a cutman, and developing a reputation that will allow you to work as an independent cutman when your time comes.