— Jason Echols (@EcholsFitness) July 26, 2017
NBA and NFL players have been training various martial arts for years. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used to train with Bruce Lee, and Herschel Walker is a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo (he even won a few MMA fights). But Kareem was one of the last basketball players to truly embrace the kick-heavy styles of fighting until we learned recently that Tim Duncan is an absolute monster on the pads.
Unknown to most, Duncan has been training kickboxing for nearly a decade, and according to his trainer Jason Echols, he’s used his natural athleticism and professional focus to become a beast in the gym. So much so that it’s painful to hold the pads or even train with the future Hall of Fame Spurs forward. Echols recently spoke to Bleacher Report about what it’s like to train with Duncan, and it sounds painful. The 6-11 Duncan can tear flesh from bone without even trying:
“One time, I tore my bicep just trying to move with him at a higher-level pace. He’s so big and his elbows are like spears and his bones are really sharp. Just interacting and punching with him, I hit him with a right hook and his elbow caught the inside of my bicep and tore it right off, just from moving around. Whatever pace I’m at, he sets it. The roaring lion is his passion to learn, his passion to pick up the movements. He’s really, really passionate and into the idea of martial arts. It’s cool to watch.”
Imagine a prime Tim Duncan at his reported 256 pounds, nine pounds under the heavyweight limit, using his length to keep dudes at bay in the Octagon? Stefan Struve is over seven feet tall, but he doesn’t use his natural abilities well, constantly getting in firefights with much smaller men (see Mark Hunt).
It would go better than this: