As always with me, the day starts in a fairly pedestrian way and then something unexpected happens and it all changes . . . . back in March 2017 was NO exception. Scrolling through my Instagram, I see an advert for ‘Pride Boxing’ – and think nothing of it. Later in the day, my team and I (mainly women) are having the ‘weight loss’ conversation where upon I say –oh I’m thinking of doing ‘Pride Boxing; boxers are always super fit and toned” but I wasn’t really thinking that – I was just saying it to show off (I’m very mature like that!).
I had never in my life joined a gay group and to be completely honest, I wasn’t thinking I was joining this one. BUT the team had other ideas, they would not let it drop – they pestered and they nagged until my application was sitting in my ‘sent folder’! The application was in.
Still working on the premise, they would not take a now 50something woman – I was reasonably relaxed and this was ticking lots of boxes, I came across to my work colleagues as bit cool and someone up for a challenge, I looked to be supporting a great cause – but might not have to actually do any fund raising, I could pretend I was serious about getting very fit but not have to go to the gym. But next thing I know is . . . I’m in
Arriving at the Cobra Gym in Victoria – I find a beautiful crowd – and I mean really deeply beautiful. We came in every shape, size and age imaginable; every colour, a wide range of different backgrounds and fluidity, well we were all at home here – all with the common goal of wanting to step outside of our comfort zone.
The gym . . . well the gym is nasty . . . properly nasty . . . and so this motley crew, always to the same sound track of misogynistic, racist, homophobic rap music . . . we began to train, sweat, spar and find new friendships as we came together with this unique sense of wanting to give this crazy idea your absolute best. Jon Durrant, our trainer; he, himself, a world champion, talked about fear and the reality of fighting and the power of just giving something your absolute all –hell – who wouldn’t want to give it your best, when being faced with someone who wants to punch you in the face.
So over the next 10 weeks kicking, screaming and not without tears, Jon dragged us into our better selves; press ups, starjumps, sit ups, walkouts, kettlebells, sparing, technical sessions – I noticed, more and more of us started to give up drinking as the fight got nearer, sneaking in extra classes, we had good days and bad days, we all, at one time or another; we all wanted to give up and some of us did but most of us . . . found ourselves at Portchester Hall on the eve of Pride in London – ready to fight
Never have I been more frightened, never have I felt so supported – when entering into that boxing ring, you realise you are putting yourself against someone who’s sole purpose is to punch you as hard as they can AND worse than that, is if they do get a punch home within the first few moments, then they will keep on going and it wont stop until that bell.
3 Rounds of 2 minutes each are the longest, most exhausting, exhilarating, intense and horrible I have ever experienced. The supporters are amazing, the sense of achievement mixed with bewilderment is incredible. I could not recommend this more – I am hooked (maybe not on the actual fights) but I am hooked on the training.
And for the 2018 Pride in London Boxing, I had friends who also picked up the challenge, so I watched Louisa Flynn, Kelly Canterford, Monica Mathias, Kelly Lickley, Karen O’Neil, Zainab Alsafi all totally and utterly amaze me and themselves – superbly proud of them.
AND the best bit is – LBWomen are totally rocking this event – we love our gay boys – wow boys punch each other hard – but we are the majority and that feels good!
Please if you want to push yourself – try this . . . if I can do this . . . you can do this
Pippa Dale aged 50 something . . . . . .
UPDATE!! I did find myself fighting again – this time at the Gay Games in Paris – in August 2018 – came home with a black eye and a silver . . . . Will I fight again? . . . . well, watch this space!