5:00pm Tuesday 4th December 2012
By Pete Hughes
“YOU step up to the ring, your nerves kick in, and your heart starts beating faster.
“You go to the corner, your coach talks to you and after that you can’t remember anything.”
These are the words of 14-year-old Niamh McGuckin, from Berinsfield.
When she joined the Berinsfield Amateur Boxing Club at the age of nine, she was the only girl there.
Last year, she was National Champion for her age group.
“It was pretty amazing really. I never thought I would get that far,” she said. “I just wanted to push myself further to see if I could win it.”
If you are not afraid of getting punched by a girl, you should be.
Although a minority sport, the numbers are increasing.
Niamh went to a training squad for Team GB following the Olympics, where the organisers were expecting 50 girls, and 78 turned up.
“That is the strange thing about girls’ boxing,” explains Niamh’s coach, Mel Corrigan.
“There are not many girls around at the moment, so more make it through to the finals. I get girls come in and think they are fit because they are thin.
“They look at big girls and think ‘look at you’, and then find out they can’t do half of what a big girl can do.”
Chloe Gorringe, also 14, started boxing at the club a year ago, because she was getting bullied.
She said: “I wanted to do something to prove that I could, and I have gained so much confidence. There is also a competitive side.”
Mr Corrigan starting boxing at 13.
He said: “Me and my friend had a look in one night and we thought ‘we could beat up these guys’, and we got beaten up ourselves. It is a wonderful sport. Once it is in your blood it never gets out.”
Mr Corrigan started the ABC to give the young people of Berinsfield something to do, and to keep them away from drink, drugs and smoking.
Mr Corrigan said: “I give 16 hours a week keeping kids of the street – tell me a youth club that does that.”
His effort seems to be paying off. Niamh and Chloe both say that they will do whatever they can to box their way to the Olympics.
Niamh said: “I want to put the effort in, because I know I wouldn’t do that for anything else.”
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