Knockout coach points the way

BOXING is not generally associated with women, particularly slim, small-framed women, but Alison Pullin is breaking the mould in a bid to ditch the stereotype. Alison, of Hillfield Avenue in Hitchin, is the first female assistant boxing coach in Hertfords

BOXING is not generally associated with women, particularly slim, small-framed women, but Alison Pullin is breaking the mould in a bid to ditch the stereotype.

Alison, of Hillfield Avenue in Hitchin, is the first female assistant boxing coach in Hertfordshire.

She works at North Herts Amateur Boxing Club, which is based at her partner's fitness centre, Wayne Armstrong's Boxing Gym on Station Approach in Hitchin.

Alison, 41, said: "When I was younger I used to do a lot of county running for Stevenage. When I stopped running I took up lots of different sports, including karate where I had one more belt to do before my black belt.


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"When I started seeing Wayne I began going to the gym more and watching the boxing. I was getting more and more into it the more I watched it.

"I qualified in July to be a coach, after being taught how to teach footwork, blocks, defence work - everything you need to be able to teach any boxers that want to do it."

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Alison believes more female boxing coaches are needed, and explained: "So many more women now want to compete in boxing and you need female coaches to teach these women because they need a chaperone when they have medicals."

She also explained that having a female boxing coach at the club can be encouraging to women and girls who want to take up the sport. She explained that there are two teenage girls who have just started boxing at the club and are quite embarrassed, but she is able to speak to them from a female's perspective and boost their confidence.

She said: "It's such a male-dominated sport and people just look at you and say you shouldn't be doing this.

"People are pretty shocked when they find out what I do. I'm really slim so people judge me on my size, but boxing is all about technique and being able to concentrate on what you are doing. It's a discipline."

As well as teaching women how to box, Alison also takes children's sessions. The Kids Gloves sessions cater for children as young as seven and up to the age of 17, but youngsters under the age of 11 cannot compete.

Asked what she enjoys most about being a boxing coach, Alison said: "Seeing someone who doesn't know anything about boxing when they first come gradually progressing to a level where Wayne can take over to take them on to competing standards."

Anyone interested in joining the boxing club, call the gym on 01462 457296, Wayne on 07919186529, or Alison on 07917669133.

For more information about the club, visit www.waynearmstrongboxing.co.uk

On November 1, the club will be holding a boxing show at Hitchin Town Hall. Tickets are £30 to include a curry meal, or £10 just to watch the boxing. The meal will be served at 6.30pm and the boxing starts at 8pm. For tickets, call any of the above phone numbers.

FACTFILE

* Women's boxing as a legitimate and competitive sport dates back to 1722 when British fighter, Elizabeth Wilkinson, entered the ring.

* The International Females Boxers Association (IFBA) was formed in February 1997.

* One of the primary goals of the IFBA is to develop female boxing into a sport which will persuade Olympic committees that women's boxing is worthy of being included in future world games.

* In October 1999, Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila "She-Bee Stingin" Ali, made her professional debut at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.

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