My athletic career began at the age of 14 on the island of Sardin a, where I was born. Although I did some weightlifting, my main interests were soccer and boxing the most popular Italian sports.
At the small gym where I began training, everyone kept saying, "Athletes must eat better than most people if they want to be outstanding." They believed every good boxer and soccer player should start the day with three or four eggs for breakfast, preferably eaten raw. Also rated high on their list of essential foods were fish and horsemeat. The value of horsemeat was based on the notion that anyone eating it became as strong and enduring as the animal itself. This seemed to make sense, especially when looking at a horse and compar ng it to a chicken, goat, or cow.
During those early days in Sardinia, I knew very little about nutrition, so I followed the advice of others training i i the gym and ate the types of food they suggested. There was no reason to suppose that specialized diets were needed to become world champion, which was my goal right from the beginning. Little did 1 realize how much there was to learn, and to keep learning continually, lor my dream to bccomc reality.
During my late teenage years, I discovered that my inner needs were not satisfied by either soccer or boxing. Sometimes full involvement in a career or love affair is necessary to realize it's not your thing. True, I was a successful amateur boxer, with a record of 22 knockouts and the Italian lightweight championship, but the opinions of managers and coaches who guided my rate of progress were stifling. Much of their advice was well meant; however, I felt my full potential as an athlete could not be reached training as a boxer.
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