ANNA WOOLHOUSE sits on a bench in Darren Barker’s Paddington gym on crossed legs and prepares to be asked the same old question. When it comes, she smiles wryly and nods before answering with all the enthusiasm she can muster.
“I’ve always enjoyed boxing,” she begins. “I’ve hit pads. I’ve never sparred or anything like that, but I’ve always had an interest in it, and I was totally up for the challenge.” The need to justify her existence as a boxing presenter on Sky Sports clearly wrangles but she understands it. “I think my… not necessarily worries… but I was aware I was stepping into different territory and I did feel like I had to prove myself.”
Two-and-a-half years later, Woolhouse is tired of having to prove herself. Not tired of the job, she adores the job, but tired of the suggestion that being a woman made the task of proving herself harder than if she were a man. Indeed, as Anna points out, the fact she’s repeatedly asked about being ‘a woman in a man’s world’ shows the sexism some like to believe is a thing of the past remains prevalent. But the truth is she is a woman in a role that, until she came along in January 2017, was always deemed a man’s role. That alone should merit significant praise. But not everyone feels that way.