The FightPost Interviews: April Hunter
The world has changed so much in so little time. Everything we once took for granted is now gone, at least for now. Life may never ever be the same, hesitation and years of neglect has cost so many.
While it might be of little importance in the grand scheme of things, sport has inevitably stopped also, and fighters are forgotten when the news outlets report stories of hardship. They give so much with very little in return in so many different ways.
The unbeaten welterweight prospect April Hunter would have hoped to be celebrating her latest victory, but like many Hunter saw her scheduled fight earlier this month fall foul of the worldwide pandemic:
“I’m obviously devastated, but it’s just one of those things, there is nothing you can do to change it, you just have to deal with it and keep going.”
Football in the North-East is a religion, Hunter found her calling also. But an ACL injury when she was just 15, stopped a promising football career in its tracks.
But after a period of darkness and uncertainty, boxing not for the first time came to the rescue. Hunter turned pro after a brief amateur career and after only taking up boxing when she was 21, Hunter seems destined for a remarkable rise to the upper echelons of the sport.
The current lockdown hasn’t stopped Hunter from staying as ready as possible for when boxing gets the green light to go again:
“In our gym, we don’t do camps, I’m never out of the gym. I’ve been none stop flat out training for this fight since Boxing Day, because I had a fight in February. I’m still training now, ticking over, I’ve put a bit of weight on, my diet hasn’t been has clean as normal because I’ve been feeling sorry for myself a little. I love my sweets and that.”
There is an obvious difference between training, ticking over and getting into fighting shape, but Hunter sees herself being able to return to action relatively quickly:
“I reckon I could have been ready in 3 weeks, but because of my weight I’d be looking at around 5 weeks now.”
Hunter is probably more fortunate than many fighters who are currently having to do without their normal wage coming in. Loyal sponsors and her own general waste company, North East Waste, are helping her through the current drought in fighting opportunities.
Isolation and not doing the normal routine can be hard for some, but Hunter is making the best of a bad situation:
“I’m actually not struggling, that might be because it hasn’t been that long yet. I’m missing my coach, but I’m doing my training, and then I pick my girlfriend up from work, and then the day has gone. So if I stick to my training and a routine, it’s no different.”
Hunter is scheduled to fight again on June 27th, but there are obvious doubts even for a date that far in advance, even Hunter isn’t getting her hopes up:
“I don’t think it will happen, it’s too soon and even if it does it will be behind closed doors, Even if they lower the ban, they will still not have large gatherings.”
Boxing has done so much for Hunter, and has helped her overcome the tragic loss of her cousin Paul in 2018:
“Boxing has made me the person I am today. I’m so grateful for it, boxing keeps me right. I’ve realised how much I have missed it during all of this. Boxing has been nothing but a positive influence on my life and on me as a person. People don’t realise how much it means, I lost my cousin and I box for him rather than any belt, Paul loved his boxing.”
Even as an aspiring amateur, turning professional was always on her mind, and the timing couldn’t have been better with women’s boxing very much on the rise:
“Turning pro was always the aim, even at the start of my career, even when I wasn’t doing that good. The sport will only get better when the girls from the next Olympics turn over, there will be some good domestic fights.”
Hunter left her beloved North-East earlier this year for a holiday in the Maldives, where it is illegal to be gay. But Hunter and her partner posted a picture of them kissing, risking dire consequences, including prison:
“I didn’t think about what would happen, to be honest, I just uploaded the picture and then it started to get retweeted and I then thought we are still here. I wasn’t really scared, but I just thought I should probably just take it down until we get back. It was one of those things where you think afterwards why did I write that. I was really respectful when I was there, it wasn’t how some papers tried to portray it.”
Despite only turning pro last year, Hunter already has the big fights and world titles in her sights:
“I have been looking at the European champion at my weight, maybe in two fights time. I want to get that and then I would love a crack at Cecilia Braekhus. She’s amazing, but she is on the way out, and I am young and fresh.”
When we get some kind of normality back, boxing will have plenty of catching up to do. Fights will come thick and fast, and the likes of Hunter will very quickly be making up for lost time.
Young, ambitious and talented she will undoubtedly be manoeuvred to be challenging for world titles even quicker than even she might be expecting.