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Fit to Fight: Week 8

Lucy Fry looks back on the culmination of 8 weeks' hardcore training: fight night

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 10:43:53 GMT | Updated 1 years today

Week 8, and we come to the end of my boxing journey, last Friday night at Bethnal Green's York Hall.

 

Over the last 60 days I'd been punching, sprinting and weight-lifting as if my life depended on it and finally, here I was, the first of the evening's 15 boxing bouts; I heard my name called over the microphone, the tune I'd carefully selected to arrive to was booming as I walked through the crowds and up, into the ring. Headguard on, mouthguard on. My opponent, 25-year-old Nicola Hudson also took her corner. I had been told that she had fought before and would be vaguely matched to me in terms of height and weight, but knew nothing else. My heart pumped inside my chest, my stomach full of what felt more like cockroaches than butterflies. 

 

Luckily, I was no longer afraid of getting hit in the stomach, smashed on the nose or walloped across the side of the head. My primary concern was performance. That's how I know I've changed from a egotistical fitness fanatic (worried more about how my body looks in the mirror than with any genuine athletic ability) to a sportswoman: now I was thinking almost wholly about whether I would be able, under pressure, to put into practice all that I'd worked on. I wanted only one thing, to go home knowing I'd given my very best and nothing less, not just for me but also for my coach (the woman who has pushed and protected me in equal measure over the last 8 weeks), Cathy Brown (www.cathybrown.co.uk).

 

'It's a no contest fight,' the Referee told Hudson and me as we stepped forward, to touch gloves. 'Nobody's trying to knock anybody out, let's just see some boxing, ladies, please.'

 

A few weeks ago, this would have been sweet music to my ears. How sports(wo)manly, how gracious, how decent! Nobody goes home the loser and everybody takes a trophy that declares them a winner! But I am furious. I have trained, either to win, triumphant, or to lose, fair and square; I recognise that the result is immaterial in the grand scheme of things and that my journey through the last 60 days of blood, sweat and tears is what matters here. But still. I can't help feeling exceptionally patronised by this 'no decision' decision.

 

It is a fleeting thought though - there is no time for preening my feathers right now - the bell has gone and the fight is on. I get straight in there with a jab and slip, just as I've been trained, but from then until the end of the third round, I can recall only snapshots; the moment I hear my Irish friend, scream 'FRY' in a thick, Belfast accent; the moment my cornerman, Richie Kyle (personal trainer at The Third Space: www.thethirdspace.com), tells me to try some body shots; the all-important hand gestures from my coach, meaning slow down, relax, breathe…

 

'Once the adrenalin hits, you'll forget everything.'

 

It's something I had heard a lot from those in the know, particularly in relation to first fights and they were right, in one way: some of the moves I had worked on over and over in training were lost to me from the moment it begun. But in another way, a strange sense of immediacy and clarity hung over my head for those 6 minutes. I was aware of everything - I knew where I was and understood the personal importance of this moment - and even managed to think about the odd punch before I threw it (although most seemed to come from my body as if it belonged to someone else). Imagine the longest split-second ever, one that defies time itself yet somehow still operates within it. That's how long it was between the first and last bell.

 

The experience of fighting is so intense that it's virtually impossible to relax and appreciate it for all it is, whilst also doing the job in hand of trying to look the slicker, more skillful boxer. It was, just like Brown had warned me, over all too soon and, as I stood, hand raised (see pic) at the end, I felt overwhelmed to the point of numbness: I'd just finished my first ever fight. I'd never have this moment again. I looked around at all my friends and family cheering and felt a huge surge of pride. It was done, finished, but was Lucy - Firework - Fry also done with this complex, contradictory, confrontational sport? I don't know yet. Let me have another bit of sticky toffee pudding and think it over…

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