The boxing workout with a pro has helped Vikings’ Alexander Mattison on the field

Early in his NFL career, the Vikings running back Alexander Mattison is known for using his track-and-field skills to obstruct defenders in the game. This season, Mattison adds to what he’s learned from boxing to the football field.

Mattison, 23, spent offseason training in his hometown of San Bernardino, California this third season with the Vikings, alongside good friend Rayson Thomas, a professional boxer. No, Mattison didn’t hit or hit anyone, but he said his overall training has been beneficial to his strength, stamina and mindset.

“It helps a lot, and even with the mental aspect,” Mattison said. “It’s like balancing the mental and physical part.”

In Sunday’s game in Detroit, with Dalvin Cook ruled out with a shoulder injury, Mattison would make his third start of the season. In his first two starts, Mattison covered 112 yards in a 30–17 win over Seattle in Minnesota on September 26 and a career-high 113 yards in a 19–17 victory over the Lions on October 10.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer apparently wouldn’t mind Mattison’s similar output in his second game against Detroit this season.

“He had a lot of bars when he started out, so we’re going to keep trying to get him the ball, and hopefully he’ll continue that trend,” Zimmer said on Friday after Cook was officially out of the game. Will keep.”

Thomas plans to closely follow the action at a sports bar in San Bernardino. He’s predicting another big game from the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Mattison.

“He’s ready to put on a show,” Thomas said. “As a running back, he’s great, I don’t think anyone has seen his full potential yet.”

Mattison, 23, and Thomas, 25, grew up together in a California city 60 miles west of Los Angeles, and were teammates on the San Bernardino high school football team. Since turning pro last year, the 5-9, 130-pound Thomas is 4-0 and ranked 58th in the super featherweight division by BoxRec. He goes by the nickname “Nino the Boxer”, although he said that most of his fans lately have been calling him “El Chivo”, which is Spanish for GOAT (Greatest of All Time).

Growing up, Mattison starred in track and field as well as football, and he has often used those skills to stop opponents. After last season, he decided that a workout at the Thomas El Chivo Boxing Gym in San Bernardino would be beneficial.

“I was able to achieve a lot and do some great work with (Thomas) this season,” Mattison said. “It’s doing footwork stuff and burning a good sweat and burning some fat and doing core exercises. Boxing is definitely different. It’s definitely a different field, but it’s not for everyone.” ”

Thomas said Mattison trained as if he was a boxer minus taking and hitting. He said both worked out five or six days a week for two or three hours a day during the off-season.

“I coached him to teach him boxing and (some) boxing strength and conditioning exercises,” Thomas said, adding that he did a lot of pad work. I basically go through the basics of boxing with him, and his work ethic is like that of a real boxer. We have some of the toughest strength and conditioning exercises around.”

Throughout this process, Mattison and Thomas have supported each other in their respective athletic careers. While at the Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, Mexico, where Thomas won a majority decision over Jonathan Carrillo on February 26, 2021, the two exchanged jerseys.

Mattison gave Thomas the number 25 Vikings jersey. And Thomas presented Mattison with the tights he wore during the battle, which were in the Vikings’ purple and gold colors and had the number 25 on them.

Thomas said, “I have now hung his jersey in my house, and he has hung his tights at his house.”

During that fight, Mattison served as Thomas’s corner man, offering pointers.

Mattison took part in Thomas’ most recent fight, a technical knockout of Don Stewart at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn., on October 22, and was introduced to the crowd. Thomas then watched Mattison play at Sophie Stadium in Minnesota in a 27–20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on November 14.

“He’s one of my closest friends,” Mattison said. “I’ve learned from them what to throw and they have to throw with good technique, try to be quick with it, and have some force behind it.”

What Mattison tries to do is when he hits a hole during a run and then fights for extra yardage. Mattison has 315 yards to spare this season and is a good bet to top his last season’s total of 462 yards and 434 last year as a rookie in 2019.

Mattison is now focused on life as the NFL is rolling back. Although later, Thomas believes he can excel in another sport.

“He has the ability to do well as a boxer if he wants to do that,” Thomas said.


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