Ebanie Bridges: Doing It Her Way
Women’s boxing has been gathering pace over the last few years. The years spent in the shadows, looking for acceptance, appear to be over.
Eddie Hearn gave it a prominent position on his recent Fight Camp series. All three fights delivered, arguably the best fights on the cards on which they featured.
But while the progress has been steady in recent times, there is still much work to do if full acceptance is to be realised.
A recent online debate featuring journalist Danny Flexen and the Australian fighter Ebanie Bridges focussed on should sexuality and looks be used to promote women’s boxing. Does it harm or hinder its progress?
I didn’t have too much of an issue with the video, it’s too easy to hate on another opinion that differs to your viewpoint. I do think it is a debate that’s worth happening, and I emphasise with some of the things Flexen said in the video.
Women’s boxing shouldn’t be using sexuality or looks to primarily promote it, but that is within the sport itself from a promotional point of view. Even though boxing is far from morally cleansed, I seriously doubt any promoter would dare enter that domain.
However, if individuals in any given fight are happy to touch on it, then that I think could make it a little more acceptable and comfortable for some. Bridges has touched on this herself, strongly of the belief that you can be feminine and still have the ability to fight.
Where I personally might differ from some of the narratives around not using sexuality or looks is when an individual, Bridges in this instance, wants to promote herself using her looks and whatever else she wants to use to raise her profile.
You can imagine the outcry if Bridges or any other female fighter went on Love Island, but male boxers have done exactly that previously. They knew it would raise their profile, and especially for Tommy Fury it most certainly worked.
There is a certain stigma around that reality show, a certain perceived demographic who watch it. Would the reaction or debate be the same if a female fighter went on the show, I suspect it wouldn’t.
The methods might differ, but is Bridges doing anything different to what Fury and Idris Virgo did. Equality works in many ways.
Bridges hasn’t got a big amateur background to fall back on, and at 33, needs to build on what time she has left in the sport. A pandemic has shortened that time even further.
The unbeaten Australian has used social media to its full effect in recent months. But if you look at certain comments about her, it would lead you to believe that she promotes herself by explicit photos and other such similar methods.
Critics will cherry-pick certain comments or photos to highlight what they are trying to force on their followers, often with personal agendas.
But comments or articles are rarely in balance with the actual truth. There is far more to Bridges than some would have you believe.
Bridges is indeed incredibly active on social media, it is very difficult to avoid her. Mixing humour with her brand of banter, there is rarely a dull moment on her Twitter account.
Social media brings hate, Bridges especially of late has attracted plenty. But one look at her feed tells a different story to the naysayers. It is for the most part, a boxing heavy feed.
There is that work ethic of hard graft that has served her well throughout most of her life. Bridges has been doing the rounds, giving endless interviews on all the multiple outlets that are out there. Giving up her time, which many other fighters don’t.
Many fighters complain about their lack of a profile, but do very little to change it. Inactive social media accounts are common, interviews are rare, people won’t know you unless you push to get your story out there.
I get that some fighters, probably more talented ones, will resent the attention Bridges is getting. But they should learn from her, there are many different ways to use social media to make yourself known. Being quiet, nobody will hear or see you.
Bridges knows exactly what she is doing, and there is an important message she is trying to tell. You don’t have to look a certain way to be able to fight, is something Bridges is passionate about.
The life story of Bridges rarely gets told, a problematic start to life, demons overcome, continuing to break stereotypes through her differing life journeys.
Once a mechanic, then a successful bodybuilder, now a fully qualified maths teacher and unbeaten professional boxer. A life of change, a life of doing what she wants to do, and how she wants to do it.
Bridges doesn’t subscribe to the normal, it seems she thrives on being that rebel. But being real and being true to herself is so important to her, her parent’s message of ‘be you’ always a constant reminder and inspiration to her.
Daring to be different brings critics, but Bridges has vowed not to change, and why should she.
What she is doing, is most definitely working, her profile has been raised immensely during the pandemic. While boxing stopped, she did anything but.
Bridges knows she will be defined in boxing, by what she does in the ring when her four-fight career gets up and running again, hopefully sometime later this year.
Promising entertainment, a Gatti like style when she returns, Bridges just wants to fight, and on the biggest possible stage available.
The easy way in life is to stick to the accepted way, appease to the accepted formula. Bridges wants to do it her way, and in many ways, she deserves credit for doing so, especially in a year of restrictions and being told what we can and can’t do.