Amateur boxers from across London are counting down the days until they take to the ring in the first all-female Industry Boxing event at the Clapham Grand on Thursday April 12.
Led by professional boxer and gym owner Jon Durrant, Industry Boxing is a London-based white collar boxing event that offers participants 10 weeks of free professional boxing training culminating in an amateur fight lasting three two-minute rounds.
Durrant, 38, said: “The women are kind of underrepresented. We know a lot of them want to do it but may be a little intimidated by some of the mixed groups, so we thought to do this.
“We put it together with a meaningful charity so that it’s for a good cause as well.”
Last November’s event was attended by more than 800 people and raised more than £11,000 for domestic violence charity Refuge.
Participants train twice a week at Queen Mother Sports Centre, Victoria and have access to more than 100 free bonus boxing and conditioning sessions.
Contestants are also given a fighter profile, allowed to create a nickname, choose their entrance music, and given the chance to win medals and trophies.
The women, who have been training since January, listed further benefits, including fitness, weight loss, discipline, friendship, confidence, and self esteem.
Laura ‘Kestrel’ Canning, who at 43 years old is the oldest fighter taking part, said: “I really like the discipline of it, and the fact that you can’t really change your mind because you have to just go for it and do it.”
She added: “It’s actually got me in the gym as well for the first time ever because you have to be so fit.”
Jenni ‘The Cannon’ Cannon, 25, said: “I feel really fit, like fitter than I’ve ever been. And everyone’s dead nice so it’s sort of like a hobby now.”
Leasa ‘Lunatic’ Crowe, 38, is preparing to take part in her third fight with Industry Boxing, having previously fought a few kickboxing fights.
Crowe said: “My last fight with these guys in November, I was over 15st. And now, a few months down the line and I’m under 12st.
“So it’s definitely worth it for the fitness.
“It’s a feeling you can’t describe unless you’ve actually been there. It is outstanding, you feel king of the world, absolutely, even if its only for the rest of that night.
“But it’s just an amazing feeling to know that you yourself have actually gone and done that.”
Durrant, a fighter since he was 16, knows the feeling all too well.
On Sunday April 29 he will contest his 47th and final professional bout against Spaniard Bruno Barreto for the ISKA World Light Heavyweight Title at the Clapham Grand.
Having won titles in kickboxing, Thai boxing and boxing, including commonwealth boxing and kickboxing titles and a world open tournament title Durrant is internationally ranked by the ISKA, WKF, WAKO Pro and IKF and has a boxing career record of 31 wins, 11 losses and 4 draws.
When asked what he wants to see from the girls on fight night, Durrant said: “I think more than anything when you invest in people and you give a lot to people, what you want to see is them just have no regrets at the end of it and give everything they’ve got.
“The bottom line is this is life changing, this changes people’s lives. They don’t realise it until they’ve done it but it does change people’s lives.
“A lot of people come to us for different reasons, for different backgrounds, for different things that have happened to them in their lives.
“They’re doing this for different reasons, it’s always nice to see the conclusion of that.”
On getting involved, he said: “If you don’t want to do this you get found out really really quick.
“If it’s just something you decided might be a bit of a laugh, it is really not the place.
“If you absolutely, definitely want to do it, come and do it. And you’ll get everything and more out of it.”