Women Fighting Their Corner

Words by Sophie Merlo


In a city renowned for it’s boxing history, only a fistful of women train. One such woman is 28 year old ‘Lady’ Debby Tarrant, who boxes for the Empire Amateur Boxing Club in St. Pauls…

‘I got into boxing about 2 years ago.’ Debby says. ‘I was at a loose end … just got out of a bad relationship. I was drinking and knew I didn’t want to become part of the pub furniture. Something had to change.’

She’d always been interested in boxing, having been taken to fights by her then boyfriend. She’d fancied having a go but her ex hadn’t been keen on the idea, but as soon as he was out of the picture, Debby realised there was nothing stopping her; she hasn’t looked back since.

‘I train every day, twice per day… boxing isn’t something you can go into half-heartedly. It takes lots of commitment.’

Before going to her day job, Debby arrives at the gym at 7.15am for plymometrics – explosive movements to work on power – before cardio. After work, she returns to the gym to pound punch bags or goes for a run. As if that weren’t commitment enough, Debby follows a strict nutrition plan: ‘lots of fish, no bread, pasta or potatoes.’ I ask about chocolate and Debby laughs ruefully: ‘none of that either.’


‘Luckily, I haven’t encountered any sexism … people have been great.’

Debby isn’t just determined in the ring: as trainee manager in an optical wholesale company, she’s going places in her career. With a clear entrepreneurial streak, she’s also set up an online business selling shabby chic. ‘I’m not ruling out turning pro as a boxer,’ says Debby. ‘But there’s fewer opportunities for women to make money in this sport.’ hence needing to pursue other things. ‘Luckily, I haven’t encountered any sexism … people have been great.’

No doubt Debby and other female fighters have been helped by trail-blazing Jane Couch, the first woman to turn pro-boxer in England. Jane is now a Bristol-based boxing promoter. Even though Debbie doesn’t box under Jane, she feels indebted to her. ‘I also find Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Adams inspirational.’

‘Boxing hasn’t just made me fitter, it’s increased my confidence. I’d  recommend boxing to anyone!”

Debby then tells me about her first fight. ‘I got a huge buzz, even though I didn’t win.’ She adds,’ I don’t think anyone can truly understand boxing until they get into the ring for themselves.’

Debby is obviously a vivacious woman. ‘Boxing hasn’t just made me fitter, it’s increased my confidence. I’d  recommend boxing to anyone! It would be wonderful to see even more women involved!’

See more in the summer edition of the magazine https://bristolwoman.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/summer-issue/


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