An Interview With Ebanie Bridges
By Ben White
From the time when I wrote my last piece to now, I have been rummaging around for a story that will prove a knockout to the readers and one which will announce me back onto the journalism scene with a bang!
For this piece, I went down under where I discovered professional bantamweight boxer Ebanie ‘Blonde Bomber’ Bridges of New South Wales, Australia.
Ebanie like most professional boxers carries the ambition of becoming a world champion but, unlike most, Ebanie is also a teacher.
In an exclusive interview with Ebanie, we discussed all things boxing along with the highs and lows of her life journey, so strap yourselves in and enjoy not only this read but the journey of a boxer whose career is starting to unfold…
Ebanie is the youngest of three and having been raised alongside two brothers, Ebanie had to be tough from the start. Through childhood she regularly participated in sporting activities, from karate, soccer, and skating,
“It was only natural for me to be a tomboy” she insists.
Pre-teens she hated having to wear dresses, skirts or anything feminine, she admits
“I would often wear my brother’s clothes; I even wanted to get an undercut like them! (Thank god my Mum said no).”
As the years went by, her stance on appearance would change, she would grow into her femininity more but she admits to still being a tomboy at heart. Her adolescent years proved to be the toughest years of her life, she explains
“I experienced some really traumatic events throughout high school where I was in a very dark place but when I reached 18 I decided to turn my life around with the help and support of my parents. I pretty much blocked my parents out during my teenage years but I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, and my past has shaped me into the hard working, driven, strong, no quit woman I am today.”
Upon reflection of her younger years and when asked what piece of advice she would give to her younger self, Ebanie responds
“The same advice my parents gave me. Be true to yourself; don’t let anyone tell you who you are. In addition to that, everything happens for a reason; trust in god and the universe’s plan. If something doesn’t feel right, then there’s a 99% chance it’s not right. Cut the toxic people out of your life sooner rather than later.”
Her childhood also provided more cherished memories, from breaking wooden boards in her karate grading and achieving a black belt, to family holidays, and birthdays at her Omi and Opis (grandparents) where she recollects being spoilt with some amazing food!
Bolstered by the fact her boyfriend at the time was a big fan of both John Wayne Par (a kickboxer) and Kostya Tszyu, from the year 2000 Ebanie too become hooked on combat sports, dabbing into both kickboxing and Muay Thai during her teenage years, where she followed in the footsteps of her some of her own combat sport heroes in Van Dam, Jet Lee, Jackie Chan, and Rocky.
16 years later Ebanie tried her hand at boxing where she has since flourished. First in the amateurs where she won the National Golden Gloves title twice, along with some State titles too; and now as a professional, debuting on Australian PPV TV on February 8th 2019, on the undercard of Tim Tszyu, and making her US debut a year later.
“With the highs, there are lows” Ebanie recites “The one that stands out the most would be snapping my ankle in the first 10 seconds of my professional debut, I knew it was broken but there was no way I was going to quit on national television. I masked it for as long as I could and continued to fight for another 3 rounds through my adrenaline and will to win.”
Despite going on to win, the damage done resulted in surgery 2 days later, and further surgery 8 weeks later. Ebanie explains
“I was unable to put weight on my foot for almost 3 months; I had to learn to walk again. It was heart breaking for me, I’d just impressed Australia with this crazy win, opening numerous doors in the process but now I was house bound for 3 months and out for 8, I couldn’t drive or walk without crutches.”
This experience would prove to be invaluable for Ebanie, knowing that she can hit rock bottom and still rebuild in the way she has warrants great credit and shows immense bravery and resolve, something she will have to continue to demonstrate in the toughest sport of them all. She admits to the impact of injuries being hard and depressing and being the prevention to her progression. She then went on to draw attention to another low in her career, which is the constant pulling out of opponents; Ebanie explains
“In every fight I’ve had, opponents have pulled out, apart from my American one; in some cases I’ve had two pull-outs in the space of a week. This can be so stressful and disheartening, when preparing for every fight, I have that thought in the back of my mind “Is this fight going to fall through?” and being in Australia it’s hard to replace opponents, especially with quality because the pool is not big enough, we are so far away from the rest of the world.”
Boxing wasn’t legal for women to compete in, until 2008 in Australia but Ebanie is leading the charge for change and is keen for promoters to show more of an interest in women’s boxing, something she feels has not been shown so far.
From measuring up her opponents on the scales, to teaching measurements in classrooms, Ebanie is also a Maths teacher and balancing both careers she insists takes a lot of sacrifice.
“I am blessed that I work in a very understanding school that support me. The kids love it when I have time off for boxing because when I come back they get excited and start asking me 1000 questions, the first lesson back is a little unproductive haha (oops!). It’s great to inspire the kids and I always give ‘motivational speeches’ as they call it, so it’s all worth it, if they see me as an inspiration. School is not always about curriculum and academic but it’s important to teach young adults life skills too.”
Away from her professions ‘The Blonde Bomber’, is keen on sketching, something she takes from her dad who is an artist. She goes on to describe her parents as ‘amazing role models and incredible humans’
“They have set such an amazing example for me” she said. Alongside her parents, she heaps praise on her old bodybuilding coach Arina Manta, “She had a huge impact on my life and the woman I am now is with a lot of thanks to her. She helped me get my confidence back and showed me what a strong feminine woman is and that if you want anything, just go for it, don’t make excuses. She is an unbelievable woman who I have watched chase her dreams and be succesful in everything she sets her mind to; proving dreams can become a reality.”
Ebanie Bridges (4-0) is punching for the stars and with her grit, determination and talent; she has every chance of landing among them.