The Oltai Boxing Interviews: Anelle Massey
By Paul Oltai
The end of 2018 is going to turn out to be an interesting end of year for Isle of Sheppey native Anelle Massey. Fresh out of qualifying as a prison officer the 25-year-old lightweight will also be stepping into the ring once again but this time for her professional debut. And what a place to do so by featuring on the big end of year show by Goodwin Promotions December 1st dubbed ‘Strike’ at the famous York Hall.
After taking a break of just over a year out of the sport, Anelle is now ready to try to impose herself on the women’s lightweight division, after having a relatively successful amateur career without hitting the lofty heights that some of her fellow lightweights Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron did. Anelle boxing at first out of Sheppey native boxing club Sheerness before moving to the more recognised Rumbles based in Sittingbourne.
Winning a junior ABA title and a southern area title as an elite senior shows the quality Anelle possesses whilst also travelling to places like Ireland and Denmark picking up medals in competitions hosted there, boxing at many levels within the amateur side of the sport.
Although at first boxing was not her first sporting love, having always been a sporty type of person Anelle played football at a high level donning the boots for respective teams like Gillingham and West Ham, she found it difficult to balance both boxing and football training together so pursued the football side of things and boxing took a back seat for the time being. But she enjoyed punching people in the face too much and found herself drawn back to the world of boxing.
We spoke about the team around her and what she hoped to gain from her professional career. Have a read below and see for yourselves why there will be a lot of eager eyes come Saturday at her debut.
What team do you have working around you?
‘So I have Daniel Woodgate training me, he is the man and the knowledge that man has is unbelievable and second to none. With him first and foremost we are mates so his best interest is me and getting the best out of me for me and not to put himself in the limelight or anything like that. My wellbeing is his top priority. I have Terry Cutler as my cuts man and I have Steve Goodwin as my manager and promoter. Dan was signed under him (Steve Goodwin) towards the end of his career and when we had a chat about who to go with and Dan suggested Steve so we had a meeting with him and he is just a down to earth guy who puts on great shows, plus I get to box at York Hall. He already has Nicola Adams and Sam Smith so knows a lot about women’s boxing so to me there wasn’t really any other option than to go with him.’
What do you think you can bring different to women’s boxing?
‘I am not one of these like a Claressa Shields and others who are loud and want to call everyone out and make themselves look the big un on twitter, I am not like that I will just fight anyone and am not scared of no one in the ring and I don’t mean that in a big-headed way. I will box anyone. I have come from doing alright as an amateur but not quite the Katie Taylor’s or Chantelle Cameron’s like I didn’t have the GB and Olympic backing them lot had so me turning over I am probably not a threat to any of them, but give me 5 fights in and people are going to start thinking, where has she come from? Within two years I would like to think I have a world title fight.’
‘It is frustrating to see sometimes with social media because there are some boxing out there you see and everyone is raving about them but I have smashed them to pieces in the amateurs. If you have the talk all well and good but you need to back it up or you will come unstuck whether that be your debut or your 10th fight you will get found out sooner or later.’
‘I am a down to earth person, I could win a world title tomorrow and still go to Maidstone for a night out with my friends as normal. I don’t let things get go my head or anything like that.’
Who would you say has been an inspiration in sports/life to you?
‘Obviously in boxing Katie Taylor because as a female boxer I think every young female boxer should look up to her, she has done everything in the amateurs. She won a world title within a year as a pro so in women’s boxing definitely Katie Taylor. But my all time favourite was Joe Calzaghe, I just love him there is just something about him as a fighter. I am not even a southpaw either. The relationship he had with his Dad and just the whole way he is a down to earth guy. He proved by never dodging anyone that he was a world-class fighter and I just really liked him to be honest. He had such a big heart and even in boxing when you have the talent if you don’t have the heart it wont work. It is not something you can teach and sometimes heart will beat talent.’
What would you say your aspirations within the sport are?
‘Obviously coming off not a great amateur record but still a good one people might think it is a long shot but I want to win a world title and will be disappointed if I hang my gloves up and have not reached world level. I just want to be an inspiration to female boxing, it is massive at the moment and I just want to continue to help it grow. When I had my first amateur fight there was barely anyone about, it is sad sometimes because you see all the girls working as hard if not harder than the boys in the gym and there is just not as many opportunities for them. For me it isn’t about the money or anything like that I just want to make a name for myself and put female boxing on the map as much as we all can really.
‘Especially coming from an island you have not got the best of opportunities where there are a handful of boxing clubs at most around you. I travel 45 minutes every night for training now just to get the best coaches for me. So especially coming from the island it would be great to put the Isle of Sheppey on the map as well, it is a lovely place to live but it hasn’t really got the most going on. My first amateur club Sheerness are there on the island but as for as opportunities for young people go there isn’t much and I would like to think me going far in boxing could change that.’
Living on a small island like you Sheppey do you get the backing from the residents?
‘Yes and no I mean as an amateur you do and I did, but where I have had just over a year out of the gym and I am not in the papers as much and all over Facebook when I was fighting I do have a few local sponsors who are backing me which is really helpful. I think once I get this first pro fight out the way and everyone can see I am back in the game and taking things serious again and that I want to just make a name for myself, then maybe I will start building that backing back up again.’
Having your debut so late into the year which will give you a good start to next year which direction do you hope to see yourself go in 2019?
‘I think 2019 will be a big year for me so once I have won well hopefully won on my debut I need to go in and make a statement which I am aware of obviously. Because of the weight I am going in at (lightweight) with the likes of Taylor and Cameron being there I have got to make a statement on the 1st December I would like to say I have a shot at a title next year like a European or Commonwealth or even a world title. It is different for the girls, I have been sparring Hannah Rankin a lot and she boxed Shields last week for a world title and won WBC Silver previously so it just goes to show if you can get your name out there and beat a few names you can fast track it a lot more because there isn’t as many of the girls out there as there is boys.
‘I am only 25 so I am in no rush but if a fight comes up and it is one we think we can win at that time then I will take it, but if my team don’t think I am quite at that level just yet we will be able to take our time with it. I will do whatever Dan and Steve tell me to be honest with you and I will just turn up and train, I fully trust every member in my team and I don’t doubt anything they tell me so I will just do as they say and see what happens. But being honest I do hope to have a title fight definitely.’
Do you do much outside of boxing?
‘To be honest with ya I am quite boring and live the life style of a boxer. I am out every morning doing my roadwork doing my runs, go to work all day finish there and straight to the gym, chill out on an evening and then sleep and back up the next day to do it all again. I miss out on just silly little things like eating pizza and have not had a pizza for like 15 weeks, I think Dominoes think I am dead.
‘I used to go every week without fail and they knew my order off by heart. I have cut all that out while making weight and rarely go out with friends when they all going out on the drink and obviously I can’t get involved with that at the moment so yeah my life is quite boring at the moment. But I like it because you have got to be disciplined and I want this more than anything and realise I messed up a bit in amateurs and sometimes did not take it as serious as I should sometimes. I reckon I could have been GB and boxing for England if I had really gave everything and had kind of fell out of love with it and was doing it for the sake of it. But now I have this new hunger and fire in my belly and I am more than happy to make the sacrifices to be honest with you. It is nice when people want you to go out and you have a genuine excuse to not socialise with people you don’t want to.’
How did you end up becoming a prison officer?
‘Initially it was the money to be honest, the money is unbelievable so that is the first thing that attracted me to it. Originally I wanted to do a OSG which is the one below officer then I thought you know what I have nothing to lose and went for my officers exam and did all the online exams and passed them which shocked me because they were really really hard. Then I had to go and do all these roleplay tests and maths and English tests and everything and I absolutely smashed it and got really high grades in it all.
‘I did all my training and passed all my exams for it and honestly I now love going to work and have never had a job like this where I have enjoyed going to work. In old jobs I used to always make up excuses to call in sick and leave early and not ever want to be there but with this one I have finally found a job I love. I think it is because I enjoy helping people a lot so obviously with the prisoners being in there to be rehabilitated and not reoffend I just go in there and be me, some people put a white shirt on and then think they are bullet-proof but I ain’t there for that.
‘If they talk to me with respect then they will get it back, I talk to people how I would want to be spoken to. Don’t get me wrong I don’t take no shit with them and have a bit of banter but they know when I am being serious. I just love it really and like I say the money attracted me at first but now I just love the job and it is a proper career for me with so much progression unlike some of my old dead-end ones.’
Do you have any sponsors you would like to give a shout out for helping you?
‘Can I thank Total Landscapes Ltd, K&M Building and Construction and Pavesmart Construction.’
If you are wanting to go to the show this weekend dubbed ‘Strike’ promoted by Goodwin Promotions at the famous York Hall where Anelle will make her debut there are still tickets available directly from Anelle herself, drop her a message on twitter on her handle @anelle_massey and buy directly from the boxer herself.