How surprised to receive the Women’s Sport Trust award, for being an individual role model?
I was well surprised. The other two were footballers obviously and have got a massive following with big clubs behind them. So I didn’t expect it. It was just a great event. It’s nice to see all that positive stuff happening around sport and particularly women’s sport.
A panel decided the three finalists and then it was a public vote.
More generally, how have you been finding life as a professional fighter?
Obviously we’ve got the names that are always mentioned when it comes to women’s boxing at the moment, Nicola Adams, Natasha Jonas, Savannah Marshall, Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron too. The thing that they’ve got in common is being Olympians, there’s only Chantelle who didn’t qualify but was obviously on the GB team for a very long time and was well established on the GB team. They obviously have got that foundation to then get really good opportunities with the big promoters, which they have done and that’s great for the sport, it’s great for exposure and it’s great for them. Now that the Olympics has introduced women’s weight categories there’s now a pathway into the pros. On the other side, Claressa Shields has now done it, Marlen Esparza, Mikaela Mayer, they’re all Olympians who have been able to do that. It’s the same over the there. But I think it’s also important, since there were only three weight categories, which is very few in boxing terms. I think it’s important to try and carve a pathway for women who are not at Olympic weights. It’s much harder for us to get those big promoters on board. We’re doing it the old fashioned way, or the other route of going on small hall shows and building up, which is considerably harder because you’ve got to sell your own tickets. You’ve not got that massive finance behind you. I think it’s a more difficult pathway in some respects, not that it’s easy for any of the girls obviously.
There’s 22 [professional] women registered in the UK. There were five I got my licence last year and some of them had been inactive for quite a while.
How do you go about getting attention without a big promoter?
For me, the person that I am, it would be difficult for me to do something that wasn’t me being honest. For example calling out people who are in a different weight category just because they’ve got a big name, isn’t something that interests me.
That’s just not my style… Keep working hard, take any opportunities when they come, promoting the positive message about our sport and about women’s boxing.
Even getting that award, I did get a few people on Twitter messaging saying how can you be a rolemodel when you’re representing a sport that’s bloodthirsty and violent and this that and the other. I didn’t realise how much hate there is for boxing in general. You don’t get that quite as much as an amateur… Perhaps they look at it differently. I didn’t realise how many people were against boxing.
For me it’s important to be myself and keep putting that positive message out about the sport and about what I want to achieve and about paving the way and inspiring people and all that. I just believe if you work really, really hard and you’re genuine and you’ve got a good, small team around you and they really believe in you then the opportunities will come.
Do you do a lot outside of boxing?
I set up the Pave the Way project last year. It was only supposed to be just for the one week, for Women’s Sport Week but it’s kind of grown. To the extent I’ve ended up doing 58 talks across various things; schools, community groups. Done different events, like the Women in Law event, I’ve been to the European parliament and done a talk there. So all sorts of things through that.
Boxing is what I’m passionate about, as is sport, so I’ll use that in whatever way I can.