Not many people choose to leave the Team GB set up and turn professional right before the Olympics; certainly not many just into their twenties who’ve never been to an Olympics before. Definitely nobody from Catford has- but Ellie Scotney is the first. I went to meet Ellie, who has just turned over with Adam Booth as her manager and Matchroom Boxing promoting her.
I grew up in Catford and now live down the road in Forest Hill, essentially Catford’s more gentrified sibling. Ellie jokes that Catford is on the way up, “we’ve got two Costas now”. We meet in one, because the greasy spoon I suggest “took days to wash the smell out” last time she went.
With Scott Rawsthorne from Unknown Boxers joining us to take photos, I arrive to the two already deep into boxing talk. Ellie is a big fight fan and “knew quite a lot” about Adam Booth before signing with him as her manager. Known as The Dark Lord, Booth spoke to his new charge, who admits she was a little nervous.
“I thought ‘bloody hell’! So he’s rang me and talked it all through. He told me what to expect with the change of turning over and we met and it all went from there…
He’s very smart in how he talks, he doesn’t say much and what he does half of it I don’t understand! I value his opinions on things.”
Why turn over now, I ask? Ellie is pretty clear,
“From when I got up there [to the Team GB podium squad in Sheffield] I just wasn’t feeling myself and with the Olympics coming up, I fell out with the sport that I once loved and I thought I’ve got to change something here.”
The right move at the right time, plus the advantage of a head start as a pro over any Team GB boxers heading off to Japan, “fell into place perfectly”. Set to compete at (around) the featherweight division, Scotney quips there is a little bit of work to do ahead of her debut,
“I think I was born at 55 ½ Kilos! Once I get there I’ll be quite big at the weight.”
Another Matchroom prospect, Shannon Courtenay, had her first fight in March of 2019, and fought and won five times in the following twelve months. Ellie is keen to get started and be busy too, admitting that it takes a lot of work on her part first and foremost, “I’ve been brought up to do things the hard way, if I do everything right then things will work out.”
In the wake of Brit Terri Harper taking long reigning world champion Eve Wahlstrom’s titles in early February, Ellie is effusive in her praise, “Impressive performance, especially down the stretch, you could see her grow in confidence.
What a buzz, twenty three years old and now champion of the world.”
I pushed (somewhat cheekily) on anyone Scotney might like a scrap with, she doesn’t bite, “let me have my debut before I call people out!”
An issue affecting her career so far has been a hand injury, one which had a major impact on her competing. It was a frustrating time and involved operations, with pins and even some hip bone grafted in to strengthen the now fixed fist.
“I don’t go off in the airport so it’s alright. I was training with a cast on then I tried to cut it off myself. Can you imagine that in Catford just seeing a cast cut off on the floor?”
Actually I can, that is exactly the kind of thing I can imagine seeing in Catford, I just wouldn’t imagine it was a young lady who’d done it so she can go fight. No. No- again that is exactly the kind of reason for it I could envisage.
That hard time led Scotney to finding religion. It’s very much her own thing, not something she brings up without being asked, and I was impressed with how sensible she was about being an athlete of faith,
“Being injured is on a level with losing, and I’d always believed what I believed but I just found something in it then. That’s where I found religion.
Through times where I would have given up it’s just given me that guidance, that trust.
Some people can use religion as a weapon and I don’t agree with that, because it’s just the journey you’re on. There’s more to it than that.”
Describing herself as a “boxer-fighter” who likes body shots (“people don’t do them enough”) Ellie has gone from “nine and following my brother down the gym, I was a little fat kid back then” to Team GB, to Adam Booth and Matchroom boxing. Still working in B & Q, “in my orange outfit, selling screws”, you get the impression the South East Londoner will be moving into new territory in 2020. From her sensible, down to earth demeanor it should be one Scotney adapts to with relative ease.
She may have to conquer one thing fast, though,
“To me, Catford is home, when I do leave it I’m like ugh, I ain’t used to this. I hate crossing the river man!”