Jodie Wilkinson: “Boxing is all about mind over matter.”
By Ella Fenwick
When Jodie Wilkinson selflessly signed herself up for a white-collar boxing event in 2014 to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Trust, she never thought it would lead to the start of her whirlwind boxing career.
Wilkinson admitted, “To be honest I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know the difference between amateur and professional or white collar, they were all the same to me.”
After a life of playing in rugby league, Wilkinson never thought she would find herself swayed but a few white-collar bouts later she had a taste for the boxing world and unexpectedly everything was about to change.
“My friend is an ex-professional boxer. She took me down to the gym where I am now and introduced me to her old amateur coach. I haven’t looked back since,” said Wilkinson.
A debut amateur fight at the start of 2017, shortly followed by a second seemed like the perfect start for Wilkinson. With her boxing career beginning to bloom, it felt like the only way was up that was until Wilkinson faced a nasty surprise on the rugby pitch.
Being faced with a broken ankle meant Wilkinson had to put her boxing journey on pause and she began to wonder if it really was the right path for her. Wilkinson explained, “After coming back from breaking my ankle I had put a lot of weight on again, so I had to start from scratch. Then we came to 2018 and I was a little bit half-hearted with boxing. I questioned whether I wanted to just train to do it for fun or if I wanted to compete.”
Despite the little bump in the road, all it took was some sheer personal determination and support from her coaches for Wilkinson to soon enough be back in fighting shape. Without any hesitation Wilkinson was thrown into the deep end and saw herself through to the ABA championship finals.
“Winning the ABA’s was a turning point even thinking now back then I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just got in the ring and boxed,” said Wilkinson. “I didn’t realise how big of a tournament it is. Getting through to the finals and winning the ABA’s gives you the opportunity to have these assessments for Team GB.”
Which is exactly where Wilkinson ended up in 2019, having had her trials she was later informed of her place on the team in the September. The new chapter of fighting began in January 2020 as Wilkinson continued to ride the high of her achievements into the first couple of camps.
Unfortunately for Wilkinson this experience was short lived as the camps were soon closed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. “It came to a bit of halt for a few months and we did home training sessions instead, which we did on the Zoom calls which were really good and gave me some effective summer training.” Wilkinson said. “It kept me motivated but it has been a bit of a crazy time over the past year, but we are finally back training now in the camp which is good.”
During the pandemic the training timetable could only be described as demanding but mix that with working on the front line, Wilkinson was on to prove she could do it all. If Wilkinson didn’t have her hands full enough as it is with her thriving boxing career, she did nothing but amaze when she revealed that she has been juggling a whole other career for the past two and a half years alongside it too.
Wilkinson explained, “I take 999 calls for the Yorkshire ambulance service. I work night shifts. It is very hard. So, I work nights and then normally I try and train in the morning before I go to bed, or I will get up midday and do my training then go back to sleep ready for the next night shift.”
Although Wilkinson has been one to show a consistent confident and can-do attitude in the way she has strived for what she has achieved, even so it has to be admitted that entering the world of women’s boxing was still to be quite daunting.
“I have had to learn things don’t just come in a day, you are always learning and always developing something, even the basics. It is tough, but you get a lot of rewards from it. You know I was touching nearly a 100kg when I first started, so I just look at how far I have come, it just proves.” Wilkinson said. “I am still really new to the game. A lot of people have been in it since being kids, but I started when I was 19 just for the fun of doing a charity event.”
Wilkson continued, “I really only have had two full seasons in the amateur game. I just jumped straight into the deep end. I look where I am now, I never would have expected it. I have come so far from there, but I still have more to learn and improve on. Boxing is all about mind over matter.”
Even though the women’s boxing industry is booming, with some real talent emerging, Wilkinson has ensured she knows exactly what she wants and will not be shying away from letting anything stand in her way of that opportunity.
“My aim is the Commonwealth Games next year, that is my next goal at the moment,” Wilkinson said, “Obviously, everyone’s dream is to also compete at the Olympics. So, my fingers are crossed for Paris 2024, which is a good three years away now.”
Hopefully, this will be the start of seeing a lot more of Wilkinson in the next coming seasons, to watch her exciting career progress on Team GB and what other twists and turns her path will take.