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Thursday, 20 November 2014

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Boxing

EVER since its introduction into the Olympics in 1904, boxing has proved to be a very popular event.

Exclusively a male competition, women have never had the opportunity to take part – until now.

London 2012 is set to see women’s boxing introduced as a full Olympic medal event, including three weight categories and bouts held over four rounds of two minutes each.

So, with women fighting for a knockout and scoring points for punching their opponents in the face, I decided to get in the ring and find out for myself why the fairer sex enjoy such a masculine, testosterone-fuelled sport.

Having had many professional athletes through its doors, I decided Barrow Amateur Boxing Club would be the perfect setting for my first boxing experience, with head coach Jeff Moses kindly agreeing to show me the ropes.

Entering the club I noticed the lack of women and it quickly became apparent that I was probably punching above my weight, but luckily everyone was too immersed in what they were doing to laugh at my inexperience.

Jeff took me to the punch bags and talked me through a few of the basic punches – which were not as simple to master as you would expect.

Protecting your face with one hand, punching with the other and remembering your footwork simultaneously, is a skill which in the hour I was there I struggled to master. I had envisaged looking like Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, but in reality I was probably more like Mr Bean.

“If you were in a real bout right now your face would be a bloody mess,” Jeff warned, whilst shoving a sponge under my chin, intended to improve my stance.

Noticing there were no female faces, I asked Jeff if the club trains women too.

“We do have women training with us every so often. Karate champion Gemma Marwood used to come here and spar with the guys. But we don’t actually run female-only sessions.”

Boxercise and body combat classes have always been my favourite way to keep fit. Burning a huge number of calories, and allowing me to take the day’s frustrations out on the pads. But engaging in a bout where you are aiming for a face rather than a boxing glove – I wasn’t so sure that was for me.

Thankfully full contact is out of the question until you have passed a medical exam, something Jeff says many people don’t realise.

“Many parents are wary about sending their children to boxing because they think it’s all about fighting. In fact until you are carded after a medical, it is a non-contact sport.

“We don’t actually like to call it fighting, we choose to call it sparring, because it is more about skill than hurting each other.”

Instead of promoting violence, Jeff believes boxing actually helps to eliminate anti-social behaviour. It teaches discipline and self control while helping confidence and fitness levels.

“We get a lot of people coming to us who have been bullied or don’t get enough attention at home. We offer one on one time with someone which seems to really help.

“But if someone does use their skills on someone or is caught causing trouble we will have a chat with them about it at a session and warn them that the next time it happens they will not be allowed back. That is usually enough to stop them in their tracks.”

Finishing my first session I can see why people enjoy taking part in the sport. Despite going easy on me, I left my first boxing session sweating and feeling like I had a good workout and I could even imagine the rush of adrenalin you must feel entering the ring for real.

I thought being a regular at boxercise put me at an advantage, but to be a good boxer takes much more skill than knowing a hook from a jab.

  • For more information on boxing lessons at Barrow Amateur Boxing Club contact Jeff Moses on 07732500365
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