By Gary Kirkpatrick
IRVINE Vineburgh Boxing Club head coach Alec Mullen says the current scene for female boxing is worlds away from the scene 20 years ago.
Women’s boxing in the United Kingdom was banned up until 1996, when a ban was lifted by the Amateur Boxing Association of England.
But the women’s side has propelled in recent years, largely because of the success of Team GB in the previous two Olympic Games in London and Rio de Janeiro.
Mullen says women’s boxing has improved since the 1990s but feels it still needs more coverage. He said:
“In 1997, there were two girls from The Barn boxing club in Coatbridge who tried to get a license to box on amateur terms.
“These girls were 14 and 15 years old but they were told to ‘go home’ and ‘don’t be silly, women don’t box’.
“But it has picked up a lot since then.
“The women’s side needs more promotion. A lot of people don’t think women should be boxing. There’s still the stereotype where women should still be in the kitchen.”
Despite this, back at Mullen’s own club in Ayrshire, there are signs of real potential in young boxing star Brooke Neely.
The 12 year-old, who is a member of the club at Irvine, is making significant progress in the early stages of her amateur career after a successful past 12 monthsin the ring.
Mullen said: “Brooke has only fought six times and but has won four of them.
“She has been coming (to the club) since she was nine and is 2016 Scottish Novice Champion.
“She also boxed in the Hull Box Cup in June this year but was beaten by the Irish champion (in the final). But she’s doing great, there’s a lot of potential in her.
The general female scene at the club is also healthy and Mullen says the key to realising their potential is for the girls to have fun.
Mullen said: “We have a ladies boxing fitness class which started up in 2009. The numbers come and go – a lot of the women have families so it all depends on things like that.
“We also have girls aged eight and nine but they are still a bit young to be taking the sport seriously. As they get older, we’ll probably see more of them.
“It’s all about fun, definitely. It can get serious during sparring but we try and make the training fun. It is a hard sport. But it has to be fun.”