Fighting to Fight

So, my name’s Natasha I’ve been boxing for about seven years; I’ve boxed all over Europe, I’ve represented Yorkshire, I’ve.

So, my name’s Natasha I’ve been boxing for about seven years; I’ve boxed all over Europe, I’ve represented Yorkshire, I’ve boxed all over the country. It’s a tough sport and it’s challenging, and it’ll never not be challenging. I could get a million times better than I am now, but there’d still be girls out there better than me. And the more fights you have, the tougher your opponents get. If you see another woman doing something that you potentially thought you couldn’t do, or maybe shouldn’t do, then that opens the door for you to think: “Actually, I can do that”. To walk into a session where there’s zero, maybe one or two women, is quite an intimidating thing to do, especially when they’re all sort of like tough and whacking each other, and you’ve never done that before; where everyone’s bigger than you and tougher than you. Yeah, I am a woman in a “man’s world”, but when I’m training and I’m doing my own thing and I’m sparring, it doesn’t even cross my mind… most of the time. I’ve had other situations where I’ve had my fight pulled because they didn’t want female fights on that show. So, it’s definitely swings and roundabouts and it depends who you’re dealing with. I was scheduled to fight on a show. And then, about three days before the fight, I got a message to tell me that my fight had been pulled because either the organisers or the sponsors didn’t want females on their show. I sort of tried to find out who it was that didn’t want us but was kind of blocked at all angles whenever I tried to find out. The army came for sparring, and they were all different groups put into weight groups on the board. So, me and the other girls said: “Oh, well…” “there’s a 57 kilo group.” “Can we maybe spar in that group?” And we were told: “No” “They haven’t come to spar with girls”. It’s the shock – isn’t it? That most people, when they find out that you box, they’re like: “You?” or they’ll say: “Well, why d’you do that?”. You get a lot of disbelief that, that you would… not, within the sport now it’s like well-known now and it’s becoming more normal, isn’t it? For women to be boxing and for young girls to be boxing. But people that don’t know you, and they’ll say like: “Well…” “Aren’t you worried that your face is going to get ruined?” or like “What if your nose gets broken”, or like “What if you get a black eye?” or something. So you get a lot of those sort of questions and mostly just disbelief. You know, people will make jokes that girls shouldn’t box. Or if you do get a bruise or something they’ll be like: “Ah, see I told you girls shouldn’t fight”. Particularly amongst males it’s like: “Oh, female boxing’s boring. It’s rubbish”. So, I think there is sexism on that side of things. Guys don’t want to spar with girls —no! We do a lot of partner work on the floor where you swap and change partners all the time, and they will not make eye contact. They don’t look at you, they don’t wanna spar with you. Some guys are great, and they don’t mind at all. You know it’s sort of swings and roundabouts, isn’t it? It depends who’s on the floor that day. But even the young kids still will do the same thing, and they just don’t… they don’t wanna look at you and they don’t wanna spar with you, or they’ll start sparring with you, and they won’t throw any shots whatsoever. They won’t hit you at all. But then, you get guys who absolutely whack ten bells out of you, so… I went away on a trip before, and as the only girl there was quite a lot of… …’those’ sort of jokes. There’s no one to kind of back you up, or even take any of the brunt of it. It can be a bit… tiresome. We’re still in that transition stage, aren’t we? Where they’re realising that girls can compete and do the same things as the boys can. It’s so ingrained in people that making that kind of change is a long road, isn’t it? To change the way that people think and perceive females. I think we have to take one step at a time; and become more recognised, and more dominant in the sport, and get greater numbers in. And the more we do that, then these changes will start to come. And as the older generation of coaches that maybe are a bit set in their ways, move on, and the younger generations of coaches come through, then those changes will start to happen. But that’s definitely not something that we’re going to be able to change with a quick game plan.

2 thoughts on “Fighting to Fight”

  1. Great film, Alejandra. Your work is good for the sport of boxing, and on a personal level has made me aware that we have a long way to go to achieve true equality in the sport. We've made a lot of progress since 1996 though!

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