Three grueling two- minute rounds in the ring, with only a gum-guard and gloves for protection, is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. When you catch a hard hit the world shakes and lightning flashes. You feel your feel every ounce of energy draining out of you. The weird thing is that the adrenaline means you don’t actually feel a single shred of pain. As a timid under-confident young woman it was an incredibly empowering experience, and taught me a compelling lesson on positive thinking. Check out the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvQ4V8BKK14&feature=youtu.be
We trained 5-6 days a week. I remember being axe-kicked in the head by a guy over six foot, ALLEGEDLY breaking one of my coach’s ribs and the joys of Sunday morning sessions running up and down stairs in a Maryhill tower block. I had a mean round kick, and could be handy with a spinning back fist. When sparring with other girls it got competitive, and when new blokes joined the club, my coach kindly told them not to go easy on me. The mindset I was in did not allow me to back down, but I remember how much I used to dread paring up with a certain guy with giant shins.
I could never wear skirts, as my legs were constantly back and blue, but I loved my training and was totally hooked. It was the challenge, the skill, the combat and the feeling of strength. I could not believe the amount of physical force I could generate, and sure as hell took out a lot of my emotional baggage onto those pads.
Leading up to my first fight, I was super nervous. I didn’t really think I was good enough to be a fighter. Worse still, I found out the night before that I was fighting Patrina Mitchel. Patrina, who later became British champion, had recently beaten my friend Stacey, who was by far my superior as a fighter. I was sure I didn’t have a chance and walked into the ring with fear. She threw the first punch then boxed me around the ring for the whole first round. I was shell-shocked. In round 2 I found myself staggering, as the world went white. Petrified, I realised I’d be knocked out if I did not do something quick, so I started punching.
Its survival instinct when you’re in the ring. Tiredness is the overwhelming feeling, as you look through a haze of throbbing tunnel vision. Thinking is at a very basic level, it’s more like impact and response. Fight-or-flight mode at its best. I realised that the more I punched, the less I got punched so I punched more. During the last round I held my own.
Needless to say I lost the fight, but what I gained was a realisation that I know will stay with me forever. If I did alright for the last round, I could have done so throughout the fight. Then I wouldn’t have been hit so much, and could have had extra energy to actually win. I guess that the mere fact I had actually survived the fight made me realise that I was stronger than I thought. Most importantly, I realised my fear and self-doubt had weakened me from the start, which was just the advantage my opponent had needed.
Training was different the next time, as I believed I was a fighter. It scary to know that someone is dedicating two months of their life towards training to beat the crap out of you, but you can’t let that fear in. I told myself that every negative thought would weaken my state of mind and make me lose my edge. I know that allowing my-self to visualise losing would contribute towards making it happen, so I pictured myself winning. My mum refused to go to my second fight after being traumatised by seeing the first one. I told to not worry. I was going to win.
Talk about night and day difference. I bounced into the ring knowing I was going to own it and genuinely felt invincible. I won with a unanimous decision, in what was almost an exact reversal of my first fight.
I’d love to say I have never had a negative thought or self-doubt since, then but of course this is not the case. What I do have though, is a striking concrete example the difference a mindset can make. I’m able to watch the videos back and observe how I can sabotage myself or make myself an unstoppable force. More than a decade on, I will never forget how that felt to win that fight. I would like to thank my coach old Mark Hendrie and my old friends at GTBA.