The FightPost Interviews: Laura Pain
Despite the ongoing pandemic women’s boxing isn’t standing still. The numbers of professional fighters in the UK is still relatively low. At my last count we still only have around 40 female professional fighters. But those numbers are steadily rising, and London’s Laura Pain is the latest addition to the paid ranks.
Lockdown restrictions have given Laura a much-needed break from the rigorous intensified training her body has been accustomed to over the years, but the training never really fully stopped:
“I’ve been going out on runs and keeping as fit as possible. But I’ve also been having a little break because I think it is important to have a break sometimes. When I was an amateur I was always training, always staying ready, always keeping my weight down. So to be honest at the beginning of lockdown we didn’t really speak too much about turning professional we didn’t really know what would happen with it. But as it went on my coach/manager said have a rest now and then start back up after a month’s rest. So basically I just ticked over for about a month and I had some of the food I have been dreaming about for a while. Then we started back with the runs, and I have a spinning bike at home and luckily I have a gym in the back garden so I have been doing a lot of training in there.”
The intention to turn professional was always there, but the current circumstances have certainly speeded up the process:
“So we then decided to turn professional because the Elite’s wasn’t happening, I wasn’t getting the fights I wanted. I have always been dreaming about turning over, it’s always been there it was always what I was going to do. I think I am more suited to the pro game. I like a fight and I sit down on my shots. We wanted to wait while we knew if the Elite’s were going to happen because that is a very big thing to win. With me, I want to be active and as an amateur, I struggled to get enough fights so it just made sense to turn over. We knew it was going to be either this year or next year but it was just about how much more experience I wanted. But if I was going to wait a whole year and only have about 4 fights it is just not worth it. I’m only 22, I have got 10 years plus ahead of me. I have a lot of time and I don’t have to rush things.”
Women’s boxing has had a stop-start type of progress since that historic court case victory for Jane Couch in 1998. But the latest lease of life seems to have more potential, and the ever-increasing, if steady, additions to the ranks, points to the sport to keep growing and growing. Laura is in and around the weight where there seems to be greater depth and profile, and there are certainly plenty of options going forward as she embarks on her new career:
“It will be at super-flyweight or at bantamweight, it depends where the fights are really. I’ll probably do super-flyweight at the start and if there are opportunities at bantamweight then I will fight there. I will just take it as it comes, it will be a big learning curve and I will have to learn a lot and take the right opportunities at the right time. We will take our time but we are coming for those opportunities. I am not turning pro just to dip my toe in the water I want to get stuck in and I am looking forward to showcasing my skills. We have a 3-year plan and we will take it step by step and taking the chances when it is right to do so and not going in too fast. I want to be active I don’t want to just fight every now and again, I want to be as active as possible.”
A career in combat sports started in kickboxing which then graduated to boxing and after an at times frustrating amateur career, the move to the paid ranks was always inevitable:
“I started in kickboxing and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many fights I had because I was fighting virtually every weekend, I did that for 3 or 4 years. I travelled the world doing that and I was on a very good squad with my kickboxing. I then had four White-Collar fights in boxing then I became an amateur. I was part-time on the GB team up in Sheffield. But unfortunately, I kept getting injured which I think was due to the intensity of the training my body just wasn’t used to that type of training. I was up there for two years but I couldn’t really show them what I could do. I had seven fights last year, lost two on a split-decision but I was struggling to get regular fights. It was just a struggle, more mentally I struggled. It had a big backlash on me because I was injured a lot it was getting really hard on me mentally and I was getting really down about it. I couldn’t fight or show them what I could do. So when it was time to re-sign my contract I decided to let them release me.”
The determination was seemingly there at an early age. Being told that she would probably not be able to compete in sports because of problems arising from when she was born. That determination quickly became an obsession and with those early problems behind her Laura is only looking to the future:
“I was born with dislocated hips and I had a lot of operations and I really struggled as a kid. But I don’t really remember it. My hips are so good now I have never really struggled since, I’ve got full movement in them and they are so strong now. I do loads of running and I am fast as well I put them through a lot.”
From a relatively quick conversation on the phone, there was a certain confidence, without any degree of arrogance, that you can’t fail to be impressed by. For someone so young there is a lot of maturity about Laura. A detailed plan with set goals and she looks a prospect we should definitely be keeping an eye on:
“I wouldn’t be turning professional if I didn’t believe I could win a world title. Anybody who gets in the ring has to have that mentality. If you don’t think you can do it then you shouldn’t be putting yourself through it because of all the ups and downs. You can feel on top of the world but then you can quickly hit rock bottom in boxing. The eyes are definitely on the world title but as I say I am a beginner and I have a lot of time and we are looking at the end game, taking it step by step.”
Laura certainly has big ambitions in the sport, but is level-headed enough to know there is no rush, and with her being only 22, time is very much on her side. Laura looks and sounds like someone who has a very big future ahead of her.