Women’s boxing is on the rise, the sport now has household names like Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron winning and defending their versions of world titles and Nicola Adams becoming a two time Olympic champion and hopefully a World champion in the near future. Because of them, more and more females are getting involved with the sport we all love. But they’re not the only ones paving the way for more women to get involved: You’ve got #TeamSouthpawJab’s own Hannah Rankin – the WBC Silver Middleweight Champion, MTK’s new signing Roseanna Cox and the first female Commonwealth champion from the UK, Stacey Copeland to name a few.
Add one to that list. Nina Bradley attempts to become the first UK female to win the Commonwealth title on home soil this coming Saturday. Nina is one of the hidden gems of the Women’s boxing scene in the UK, but it’s not been a short road to this position for the unbeaten Lincolnshire native, who will hold a new record if she wins
“Boxing for me started around 8 years ago, one of the lads brought up a charity boxing event. I went through with it, I stopped the girl in the second round – I loved the buzz and the whole energy of it. The following week one of the guys from the local amateur club approached me and said ‘if you’re going to do it, why not with us?’.
I went down to Boston ABC where it all started for me. I was there two weeks, had my medical and was ready to fight. There were no other girls down there at the time. Everything grew from there; I became national champion with them and boxed internationally. It got really big and a lot of home town girls started joining. It was awesome really.”
We quickly got onto the matter at hand – the Super-Lightweight Commonwealth title and the history that could be made by becoming the first female fighter to win one on home soil. Nina said of it,
“I’m not the first female to fight for it in the UK, Sam Smith fought for it and unfortunately lost by stoppage. I think the girl came over and took Sam by surprise. But I believe she’s on the comeback – I’m not the first girl to fight for it on home soil but hopefully I’ll become the first to win it on home soil – obviously we’ve had Stacey Copeland win hers in Africa which is fantastic. For me we’ve got it here and my amazing sponsors have made this happen for me. I’m absolutely buzzing at the moment but I know the nerves will kick in soon but training has gone so well – it’s all good!”
In the opposite corner and hoping to derail Nina’s plans is Feriche Mashauri, the unbeaten East & Central African Boxing Federation champion.
“We don’t know a lot (about Mashauri) – I watched her last two fights. I’ll never underestimate my opponent and I won’t start that now. She’s unbeaten and will be coming to win. She won’t want to take any prisoners just like I won’t. Neither of us wants to lose our 0. What I’ve seen of her – she’s strong and has a lovely jab and backhand. I’m going to have to be cautious in there, we’ve got 10 rounds to get through. She looks fit. We’ve got a game plan but we all know anyone who steps between those ropes – you can have a game plan but it can go out the window. We’re going to have to dig deep but all the work has been done in the gym – I’ll be ready.”
This isn’t the first time Nina has prepared for a title fight, having had a Midlands Area title fight scrapped due to several different reasons. She explains,
“We was pencilled in for the Midlands Title a few times. There’s many reasons it didn’t happen – Lauren Johnson got injured and then she couldn’t do the next date we had. Then they offered an alternative that we couldn’t do. So the fight just never happened. Don’t get me wrong – I’d have loved to have won the Midlands title but with the sponsors I’ve got we’ve been able to move forward and get the Commonwealth Title fight and what an amazing opportunity it is!
I think it is easier for the men to move forward like this but it’s a good title and will rank me on the world scene. I want to show what I’m about on Saturday, we’ve got a dangerous opponent who is probably better than everyone I’ve boxed and I want to show everyone I’ve got the heart for this and I’ve got what it takes to do this.”
The aforementioned boom Women’s Boxing is having is evident in the coverage it is now getting, and Nina herself has seen the changes towards female fighters first hand.
“There was a handful of female boxers in the UK and I think we’ve got about 30 now. It’s only going to keep growing and lets be honest we could ask a lot of fans out there about the ladies that have been fighting on TV, what were the most entertaining and exciting fights – the female fights would be up there, we always put on a show. I think we’re starting to get respected and we’re starting to get followers – people want to watch us. People are starting to realise that this fight game isn’t just for men – like any sport.
There’s no sport that’s just for females and there’s no sport that’s just for men and I think that’s how it should be. The boom for women’s boxing, it is big now. I think it’s only going to get bigger and we never got that before. Before we’d get ‘oh you’re a woman, you should box and get hit in the face’ – we don’t get that now. We’re respected. People are in awe, they’re often shocked and say ‘you go to work, then go to the gym and then go home and look after your son!? Huge respect to you’. It’s things like that that make me know it’s 100% booming at the moment.”
Nina had covered how the fans have taken to the emergence of the women’s boxing boom, but I wondered whether she had seen and hostility from within the sport or whether she had always received the respect she deserved from promoters and fighters alike.
“I don’t think it is hard to get the respect now because promoters and other boxers are seeing what we do. You can ask Carl (Greaves); when I’m in the gym I’m in the gym. I’m not there to play around. I go to the gym to work. You have girls like Hannah Rankin who was in the gym the other day, Roseanna (Cox) was in there. We don’t mess about. Yeah we have a laugh but when we need to switch it on and put the work in we put the work in as much as the guys.
We’ve got the dedication and motivation and the heart. I think the respect is there from promoters. I know Carl supports me 100%, he’s got the utmost respect and he can’t praise me enough for my dedication – some days I’m running from work in my work stuff to the gym, into my gym stuff and into a full gym session. You can’t not respect us for what we do”
As big as the Commonwealth Title is and knowing that Nina wouldn’t be looking past her opponent, I wondered whether she had thought about what could lay ahead in her career with a win on Saturday night and whether she feels a world title fight could be on the horizon.
“If I win this title, which I’m going to! I do think it will lead to bigger fights. The only way from the Commonwealth Title is possibly a defence but it could lead to a world title and bigger fights and hopefully there’s girls out there who want the bigger fights and call me out! I’m different and I’m exciting. I’m not the perfect boxer but I love what I do and I will always put on a show and give 110%. It is what it is when you’re in there and I hope everyone enjoys watching! But yeah I think the Commonwealth Title with a win will propel me to bigger things soon”
Nina fights this Saturday for the Commonwealth Super-Lightweight title at the King Power Stadium in Leicester. Tickets are still available from Nina. If you want to go and cheer her onto success, book your tickets via 07818624309