Tasha Boyes: “Boxing Keeps My Head Straight.”
By Chris Akers
As brutal a sport as boxing can be, it has also provided assistance and stability to people’s lives in many ways.
One such example of this is Tasha Boyes.
Upon hearing about two sisters whose parents had died in the Manchester bombing, Tasha decided that she wanted to aid them in some way.
What she decided to do came to her after watching her now trainer participate in a boxing match through Pink Collar, an event organisation bringing together ladies to compete in a White Collar Boxing style tournament.
“So the person who is my coach now, she had done a previous boxing match. It was through Pink Collar. I’d gone to watch somebody I knew. Through seeing her fight, I just wanted to get into that ring. So when this opportunity came up, I thought ‘I gonna take it. Give it a bash see what it’s like.’ “
After signing up for that charity fight in aid of the sisters, Tasha competed in another charity fight in June 2018, raising money for a local boxer’s daughter who is disabled.
From there, she decided to take it further, having 12 fights on the unlicensed circuit. Her record was six wins, four losses and two draws, winning the super flyweight British challenge title along the way.
Turning pro, she was due to share the ring with Nicola Hopewell on her debut, but the coronavirus lockdown was implemented shortly before the fight was due to take place. Like many fighters, she has had to cope with self isolation in her own way.
“Just trying to tick over really. Keep my lungs open and keep busy as best I can. I’m missing the indoors. I’ve just been training in my garden. Luckily I brought some weights years ago. So I dug them out, got my skipping rope. You just got to make the best of a bad situation.”
Having turned pro as well as her time on the unlicensed circuit, has there been any differences between the two in terms of your approach towards both?
“I upped my training a lot more, cos you find that going from unlicensed to pro, a lot of the pros have been amateur, so they’re very well-schooled. They’ve been doing it for years. I’ve had to work on a lot of stuff, but I just go in with the same mentality. A fight’s a fight.”
That Tasha is skipping and using weights during the lockdown is not a surprise, as she has ‘always been athletic and I always like to be on the go all the time.’
“I used to play a lot of football when I was younger. Played for a local team for a good few years. Then I went to school and that all changed.”
It wasn’t until 2017 that Tasha got into boxing, though she was not a boxing fan when she was younger.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I was a boxing fan. This sounds really bad, but I was just more of a fighter. So I like to scrap basically. But obviously as I got older, I realised I can’t be doing that all the time as I’ll get into trouble.”
Growing up in York, she had a good upbringing, though the trouble she mentioned was sticking up for herself in school.
“Basically what it was is that it was the first day of Year seven at school and I got into a fight. Broke the girl’s nose and from that everybody saw me as the hard one and wanted to fight me. So then I had to stand my ground all the time. But I wouldn’t say it was a rough upbringing. I’d say it was a good upbringing.”
When asking the question who inspires a boxer, most fighters name a fighter they look up to or a family member. Tasha’s inspiration is closer to home. Herself.
“To be fair, I don’t really have anyone I look up to. I think it’s just more from a personal perspective. Boxing keeps my head straight and I found that if I stopped training, like over Christmas I stopped training for two weeks and I was a mess. So I do it more for myself really, to prove to myself that I can stick at something and that if you put your mind to it, you get to where you want to be.”
Helping Tasha at this time in her pro career is local boxer Carly McKenzie.
“York’s small so we’ve known each other anyway. But she did approach me for that Pink Collar and ask if I wanted to box. But I wasn’t in the right mindset at that time. Then it was just after the charity one she said ‘I can see something in you. You have a fighter’s mentality.’ So she just said, ‘come on.’ So we just started training in her back garden. Then she just took me out on the circuit.”
What is it about Carly as a trainer that Tasha likes?
“She pushes me, but she doesn’t push me to the point where I don’t enjoy it. Things do get tedious but she’ll always back me up and be like ‘It’s boring, but when you get into that fight it pays off.’ She’s good in the respect that she keeps you grounded and pushes you through. When you ask me earlier who I look up to, I do look up to her because she’s been boxing a while and she’s boxed everybody. She’s 40 and still going. She’s one to look up to.”
Once the current pandemic simmers down and Tasha can get back to her pro career, like any fighter, she would like to win titles. But over the next 12 months, experience and challenging herself is key.
“I want to get a couple of fights under my belt really. Going pro and doing my pro debut, it’s more to see where I’m at. I’m not too worried about getting a couple of losses. Like I say, I’m more about challenging myself. So I can come up against someone like Nicola, who looks flashy and might put me on my arse.
“But the next fight I could come up against someone who can’t get past my range. So I’m just taking it as it comes. Getting a couple of belts would be great, but I’m not one of these who big myself, as you can end up looking stupid. I’m quite reserved in that respect.”