Did Jake Gyllenhaal Learn Boxing for Southpaw? Did He Gain Weight?

Antoine Fuqua’s sports film ‘Southpaw’ revolves around Billy “The Great” Hope, an undefeated boxing champion whose world collapses when his wife, Maureen Hope, dies. Billy stoops to distress and ends up in a bad shape to get back to the ring. As he deals with his separation from his daughter Leila, who gets admitted to child protection service, Billy meets a trainer named Titus “Tick” Wills, who helps him gain whatever he loses after Maureen’s death. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the enthralling boxer in the boxing film, making us wonder whether the actor had learned the sport to play the intriguing character. If you are interested in the same, let us be your ally!

From Beginner to Boxer: Gyllenhaal’s Transformation Journey

Yes, Jake Gyllenhaal did learn boxing for ‘Southpaw.’ After joining the cast of the film, Gyllenhaal became the disciple of one of the renowned boxing trainers Terry Claybon, without any formal knowledge of the sport. Claybon had to start from the basics with Gyllenhaal. The training schedule Claybon conceived for Gyllenhaal made the actor commit to the sport for six months. “Gyllenhaal didn’t have any days off, training seven days a week for six months. We were working out three hours in the a.m., three hours in the p.m., six hours total a day, seven days a week,” the trainer told E! “Everything we did in training was as if he was having a professional boxing match,” Claybon added.

Claybon trained Gyllenhaal in footwork drills, punching, and sparring. Since one of the most important things Tick Wills teaches Billy Hope is defense, Claybon had to give special attention to it as well. “The most important thing we worked with Jake on was his defense, because if a fighter has good defense, then he can protect himself,” Claybon added in the E! interview. In addition, 1,000 sit-ups, 100 pull-ups, 100 dips, 2 sets of 100 squats, jumping rope, and an 8-mile run helped Gyllenhaal to transform himself into a ruthless boxer. He prominently trained at Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s Mayweather Boxing Club, located in Las Vegas, and Church Street Boxing Gym, located in New York City.

Claybon was satisfied with the outcome of Gyllenhaal’s training. “[…] when you see the fight scenes in the movie you’re going to say, ‘Wow he [Gyllenhaal] transformed! He looks just like a boxer, he boxes like a boxer.’ We trained Jake just like a boxer and his body developed that way,” Claybon told People. Although the actor trained under one of the best in the business, it wasn’t easy for Gyllenhaal. “I watched him [Gyllenhaal] vomit in the gym and almost pass out. I watched him take hits, gut shots in the ribs, get dropped. He took punches and was swollen for real. I’d watch to see if he would stop or drop. He’d keep going. I pushed Jake to the edge and he went right there with me,” Fuqua told EW.

The sixth-month training period helped Gyllenhaal step into the ring as Billy Hope without a stunt double while filming. “There was no stunt double. He [Gyllenhaal] shot every boxing scene himself. Not only was he really in there, he was calling to do more,” Fuqua added to EW.

Gyllenhaal’s Dramatic Transformation

Jake Gyllenhaal joined ‘Southpaw’ after reportedly losing thirty pounds for playing Louis “Lou” Bloom in ‘Nightcrawler.’ Thus, gaining weight was a necessity for the actor to play a well-built boxer. “He [Gyllenhaal] gained 15 lbs. of muscle,” Claybon revealed in the same People interview. But to gain weight, Gyllenhaal had to follow a strict diet that didn’t include anything fried. “My look really came from my diet. Nutritionally, it was 6-7 meals a day, eating every three hours or so—often to both fuel for my next session and to get my energy back up from the previous session,” the actor told Bodybuilding.com

“My diet would consist of lots of eggs, chicken, fish, bananas, apples, almonds, cacao beans, raisins, goji berries, rye bread, pasta, couscous and potatoes, and lots of steamed vegetables and salad: avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, and other dark-green leaves. Nothing was fried, and everything was as natural as possible. I would drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well. In terms of supplements, there were vitamin D3 and vitamin C, as well as protein shakes,” Gyllenhaal added.

Read More: Is Southpaw Based on a True Story?