I boxed. I won and I am proud of it. Yet a guy, not less than 24 hours since I stepped out of the ring has just said to me: “I don’t think it’s right women Boxing. Weren’t you a bit aggressive?”
I owed it to my coach Phil Sellars and to England Boxing to go in that ring and do my best to try and do the sport justice. My opponent Camilla Thurlow and I “went for it” because that’s wha we signed up for. She’s too accomplished and too competitive to “go easy” on. She’s one of the most game women I have ever encountered, that fireball didn’t back down. Time and time again she came back and I have the black eye to prove her right hook was loaded. Serious respect Ms Thurlow.
It was a boxing bout and we all knew what was involved. There is a huge team of people who make these things happen: England Boxing, Sport Relief, the BBC. There are logistics, forms and faffing around for months and months to pull these things off. It would have been utterly disrespectful of me to do anything other than give 100 percent. More importantly it would have stuck two fingers up to the girls and coach’s who slog their guts out in gyms up and down the country, sweating and bleeding for a sport they love. Dieting, getting hit in the face, doing every manner of exercise because boxing is literally so physically and mentally brutal week in week out. Year in year out. We had an opportunity to show case their sport on telly in front of millions and we went out to try and do that.
I was far from good, I only threw two punches and attempted one or two body shots but I got the job done but I wasn’t going to waste that platform skipping around and slapping someone. I have grown up around sport so I know how much young and old get out of being active but Boxing seems to offer kids something more than a bit of exercise. All of those films that feature misfits turning their lives around and emerging victorious after a series of struggles. Those scripts are real. The boxing gyms I have seen aren’t full of kids who go on ski holidays or are destined for university. They are from all walks of life. Some walking on dodgier territory than others. Yet there they are working, training and trying. It’s inspiring. It’s humbling. It’s incredible. So maybe I have Stockholm syndrome, or maybe I have been hit in the head one to many times (I got hit so hard by a 15 year old my tooth shattered the other week, and one day a hook to the head left my legs literally shaking uncontrollably) but I really think the only question we should be asking is where can I watch boxing? Seriously go to a local show. Support your club. Let’s credit these young people and their army of support staff with some respect. Few make money. Many take a pasting on a regular basis but there is passion in those punches for a reason.