At Fight for Peace, we are always looking for new ways to engage more women and girls in our services, particularly within boxing and martial arts. This month, we caught up with Nicole, long-term member of Fight for Peace who has recently started supporting the team as a volunteer Youth Worker.
We wanted to find out about her experience of boxing and martial arts at Fight for Peace, and what other activities young women and girls can get involved in at our London Academy.
“I found Fight for Peace through my cousin’s friend. We were in Westfield looking for gym outfits and he brought us here. When I found out it was free, I was hooked!
When I first had my boxing session, before the session I was nervous because I wasn’t around grown men very often. But the encouragement I got from them during the mixed sessions kept me coming and kept me motivated.
It wasn’t anything sexual from my teammates or coaches, which was refreshing. You know, a lot of girls go to the gym and get hit on and are made to feel uncomfortable – there was none of that. I felt very comfortable, even more comfortable than I was before.
I was quite insecure about my weight and my body but then after the first session and getting into boxing I started doing 1:1 sessions with the coaches and when people saw me doing it they were really impressed. It made me think, ‘you know what, I am doing the right thing.’
As well as increased confidence I would say I gained a lot of self awareness and self belief and motivation to carry on and see how far I could get with boxing and where boxing could take me.
My teammates and coaches were very encouraging too. Like when we were doing burpees and I was about to give up they told me to keep on going. When everyone else around me that was training as well saw me getting tired or about to stop they would motivate me to carry on. I think that’s what kept me coming.
To any young women and girls who are thinking of trying out boxing or a martial art I would tell them to just do it! See how you like it the first couple of times. It’s not by force, but if you don’t try you won’t know – that’s my advice, try it out. You’re not losing anything, you’re gaining experience from even trying it one time.
We also have all-female boxing sessions every Thursday and I think they are more chilled. You learn about the techniques and there’s no pressure to impress your other teammates. It feels as though everybody is on the same level, even if there are people more advanced than you, you feel comfortable and confident just doing the basics because it’s improving your skills.
With the mixed classes I feel like there’s so many people at different stages, so there may be a little more pressure to compete with your teammates. It’s more visible than when it’s just girls.
There are other things you can do at Fight for Peace too, like our Lutadoras sessions. If you come and join the session, you’ll be able to get involved with and get to know other girls. Once a month I lead a session called Your Best Friend which aims to help girls going through toxic relationships to identify them, and find ways to help a friend going through those situations.
There are other opportunities to get involved with too, like getting support with employability. I recently got my Youth Work Level 2 qualification, my England Boxing Coaching Level 1 and I am currently working on getting a Level 1 Fitness Instructor qualification.
I’m really excited to continue this journey and see what comes next.”
Lutadoras is our all-female personal development group where women and girls and those who identify as non-binary come together to share views, experiences and opinions in an open and non-judgemental space. These sessions are combined with our female-only sports sessions, every Thursday from 5pm.