The FightPost Interviews: Hannah Robinson
Bishop Auckland is one of those towns which time has seemingly forgot. A typical modern-day high street full of empty shops, desolate streets free from the hustle and bustle from a different time. High rates and the internet shopping boom all play their part in the demise of the local shop.
The North-East is currently enjoying a mini-boom within the boxing world and amateur boxing star Hannah Robinson is part of the revolution sweeping through women’s boxing at the moment.
Robinson was born in the old-market town but now resides 12 miles away in Darlington. She splits her time between Darlington and Sheffield, four days in the elite GB set up developing her in-ring skills and working two days as an NHS receptionist.
Even in her formative years, a career in sport looked pretty much a certainty:
“I was a bit of a tomboy at school, I did every sport going. I played football for Sunderland and played rugby at an high level. I also did cross country, athletics, I got my black belt in taekwondo when I was 12. I also did a bit of Thai Boxing, I liked most sports but especially combat sports. I liked the one and one element to them, I found it all quite rewarding.”
With so many options open to her, boxing came calling by way of the Rocky movies:
“I remember when I was 13 I got well into them, I had posters on my wall and everything. I then asked my friend at school if she fancied going to a boxing class. We got a bus to a local club, after a few sessions she dropped out, but I kept at it.”
Sadly injuries have played havoc with Robinson’s progress, and a knee injury delayed her first fight until she was 18:
“I was still playing football for the county and I did my ACL and I had three different surgeries on my knee. I decided to stop playing football and concentrate on boxing. But I didn’t have any junior experience, I had my first fight when I was a senior.”
Now representing Birtley ABC, Robinson despite a stop-start career has still managed 30 amateur fights which includes winning the GB Boxing Championship twice. Robinson progressed to being part of the GB team in November 2018 which has given her much-needed top-flight experience:
“It’s getting experience, with not boxing as a junior I am still relatively inexperienced internationally. I’ve now done training camps and fights abroad, and I want to get used to the different styles, to show I am capable of mixing at that level.”
Further injury woes left Robinson on the verge of leaving the sport and suffering mental illness:
“In 2016 I boxed for the English title, I dislocated my shoulder, I had to have surgery on it. Then I hyper-extended my elbow which also required surgery. I came back and everything was going well and then my shoulder popped out again in 2017 and I needed further surgery. It left me in a very low place mentally. Everything was going wrong, it was a bad year mentally. I also had some family issues and I saw a Doctor about depression in 2018. That is when I joined Birtley, I got a job with the NHS, and I just basically stuck to a routine for mental reasons. I then just gradually started getting better mentally.”
Robinson has made an incredible recovery from her injuries and the mental health issues she had to overcome:
“At the end of 2017 I didn’t really want to box again, but since then I have won the GB, the ABA’s and the Tri-Nations and getting myself on the GB team.”
Despite achieving so much, Robinson is far from finished and the 25-year-old lightweight has ambitious plans ahead:
“The aim is the Commonwealth Games in two years time. I feel I have come on so much since I have been on the Sheffield squad. I’m hoping to be full-time in Sheffield after this year’s Olympics and obviously, the next Olympics is my long-term target.”
Robinson doesn’t see herself joining the ever-increasing professional ranks anytime soon:
“I wouldn’t turn pro at the moment, I don’t feel as though I have any reason to right now. I’m getting the experience I need without having the worry of having to sell tickets. As of now, I’m just concentrating on developing as a boxer and travelling the world to different training camps and gaining further experience. If there comes a point where I am not enjoying it anymore, then maybe, but at the moment I’m really enjoying what I do.”
The softly spoken voice at the other end of the phone has clearly inherited some ‘Sheffield Steel.’ Refusing to let multiple injuries and her personal demons get in the way of what lies ahead, Robinson has demonstrated an impressive toughness inside and out of the ring.
The temptation to turn professional must be there, opportunity and the financial rewards are finally finding their way to women’s boxing.
But Robinson is mature enough to know the time isn’t yet right for her. The sport will continue to grow as will Robinson as a fighter. But at some point in the next four years, the professional ranks will gain another potential star.