Alli takes to the ring for coaching at Hornets Boxing Club in Ramsgate

Alli (in orange) at the Hornet's ladies session

The boxing ring has traditionally been the domain of men, with the British Amateur Boxing Association only sanctioning its first competition for women in 1997.

But female boxing goes back to at least to the early 18th century, when Elizabeth Wilkinson fought both men and women in London and it is now enjoying a growth in popularity.

At the Hornets Boxing Club in Ramsgate women and families train at the gym as well as men and many sessions are led by former teaching assistant Alli Wright.

Alli didn’t take up the sport until she was 49-years-old, proving determination can overcome perceived age and gender barriers.

She said: “I had always wanted to box from the age of about nine but they didn’t let girls into boxing gyms then, it wasn’t until the 90s that women were able to get involved in the sport.

Family session

“I started looking around for somewhere to go and I was in a spin class when one of the women said her friend did it.”

Alli originally tried out at a gym in Dover but ended up with a broken rib after a sparring session. She then moved on to training with Mark Frew at Folkestone Boxing Club and then his own TKO Folkestone gym.

Alli said: “I had private sessions and went to club nights but I wanted to fight. At 49 I was too old – 32 was the oldest you could be then although that has changed.”

Alli then tried out a Dover gym where she could take part in unregulated fights.

She continued until 2018, participating in nine fights which resulted mostly in draws.

In 2017 Alli got in contact with Chris Daley, head coach at Ramsgate’s Hornets Boxing Club, with a view to taking on a training role.

Family session

She said: “Chris told me I could shadow the trainers and learn how to coach. To become a level one coach I had to be free from fighting for six months. So, in June last year I retired and made the decision to end my boxing fights and signed up for the level one course.

“I did that in October 2018.”

Alli, who recently passed her level 2 England Boxing Certificate, coaches family sessions on a Sunday and women’s boxing in the week.

The 54-year-old also takes sessions at the club in Dover, through hall hire, but cannot be involved in any unregulated activities under Boxing England rules.

She said: “My intention is to be the best I can be, coaching all age groups, juniors, seniors, women, families.”

Hornets Boxing Academy is based at 18 Leigh Road in Ramsgate. Find the club on facebook or at website the-hornets.wixsite.com/chrisdaley 

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