Let us take you back to 14 August 2009; the inclusion of women’s boxing in the London 2012 Games is official and for the first time in the history of the Olympics, women will be able to compete in every sport.
Women’s boxing is on the rise, and Team GB is hoping to be in medal contention at the Olympics, but it still doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves.
Many women still don’t know what boxing is really about and this lack of knowledge frequently means the sport carries the disappointingly stereotypical labels of ‘violent’, ‘unwomanly’ and ‘dangerous’.
So with the help of European Union Boxing Champion Lesley Sackey, we thought it was about time we dispelled this myth and shared with you the basics of how to get started in what really is a great sport for women.
What’s it all about?
In terms of competing, the aim essentially is to hit and not be hit. But it is more than just packing a great punch or two.
Your mind is just as important as your physical being, as Lesley says,“boxing is just like playing chess.”
For someone who is just getting started, you are by no means expected to know all the rules and get straight in to the ring and fight. A lot of women don’t even want to ever get in to the ring and that’s more than OK.
Many women prefer to opt for boxercise classes, which involve a lot of the same activities as boxing, but without the fight. Punching pads and kicking punch bags is a great way to get active, get sweaty and stay in shape.
It is also non-contact so never involves hitting an opponent.
Who can box?
Everyone. Women of all ages and fitness ability can box. However if you have any medical conditions, current injuries or are pregnant please seek advice from a professional before taking part.
What kit and equipment do I need?
You will need a pair of trainers, leggings or shorts/skirt, a light, loose top and a good sports bra (www.boobydoo.co.uk).
If you get bitten by the boxing bug and become a regular, you may be tempted to buy some specific boxing shoes, such as the ones pictured below by Lonsdale, but this isn’t essential for beginners.
Boxing gyms provide boxing gloves, pads, punch-bags and skipping ropes. However, if you become a frequent boxer we recommend that you buy your own gloves, such as those pictured below, as common ones tend to get rather sweaty and smelly.
Can I get hurt?
If you do the training correctly under the watchful eye of a coach, it’s just as safe as doing a spin class; the training is non-contact unless you specifically request it.
A good coach will know what level you are at, ability and experience wise, and therefore whether or not it is safe for you to step in to the ring.
Even if and when you are ready and wanting to step in to a ring, it is very well regulated and if you take part in amateur boxing, you wear a lot of protective gear, such as breast plates, helmets and hand wraps.
How does boxing help your fitness?
Boxing is great for improving your fitness and toning up very quickly as it is fast paced and high impact in nature. Short, sharp energy bursts are very physically demanding and there are only short recovery periods.
When boxing, all your muscle groups are being worked – your waist, your abs, your hips, your bum, your arms and your legs so it’s a great all body workout.
We also recommend this inspiring book for those of you who are looking to take up boxing:
The Boxer’s Heart: A Woman Fighting by Kate Sekules hed by Overlook Press – out on May 29
Price: £9.58 from Amazon
Where can I box?
There are more and more women’s boxing classes opening up all over the country. It’s important to find a gym you feel comfortable in.
Lesley Sackey has launched her own women only boxing gym, The Boxing Boutique and has successfully created a welcoming and easy approach for those starting out in the sport.
From personal experience she is only too aware of how intimidating it is for a woman to walk into a male dominated boxing gym and so has created the service just for women.
We’ve also discovered the Ring Boxing Club in London. Established in 1910, it is the oldest club in the world and is Central London’s best equipped boxing gym.
They offer a range of facilities and activities for women who want to box; from women only classes to personal boxing coaching. Email boxercise instructor Mel Cupper for more info at mailto:email@example.com or visit their website: the ring.cityboxer.com.
Here are some other gyms you may wish to try:
London: Women’s Boxing Classes www.womensboxingclasses.com
South West: West Country Boxing www.westcountryboxing.com
North West: Elite Boxing www.eliteboxing.co.uk
Yorkshire: Tigers Gym www.tigersgym.co.uk
Scotland: Holyrood Boxing www.holyroodboxing.com
Boxercise classes are available in many of the leading gym chains. You can also find certified instructors in your area at www.boxercise.co.uk
Top 5 reasons to try boxing
Lesley Sackey, founder of The Boxing Boutique, reveals why she loves the sport.
1. It’s a great stress reliever – punching the bags and using the pads is a great way to relive any tension, anger or stress you have building up.
2. You never get bored – there are so many components to boxing training that’s it’s hard to get bored which means you are more likely to stick at it.
3. It’s an amazing workout – whether you want to tone up or lose weight boxing training targets all areas of the body and its high impact training ensures you are constantly burning and toning.
4. Self-defence – it’s a great way to learn how to defend yourself should you ever need to.
5. Great confidence booster – learning a new skill and meeting new people is a great way to boost confidence and build self-esteem.
More info: www.theboxingboutique.com
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine