Ebanie Bridges: The Next Chapter
Sitting beside a canal on a freezing cold Spring evening, Covid secure it may be, hypothermia secure I have my doubts. Seated near the main doors, the obvious warmth inside those doors are like some kind of mental torture akin to a long lost Japanese gameshow.
Worksop, a Nottinghamshire town where the mine which formed an early identity, has long since gone, an unlikely setting for a fighter who has exploded onto the scene in recent times.
Ebanie Bridges may have fallen short against Shannon Courtenay just over a week ago, but the story is only just beginning. Bridges has stayed in the UK, an unofficial tour has begun, seeing friends, potential rivals and giving up her time to visit local gyms working and spending time with underprivileged children. Unselfish with her time, Bridges enjoys giving back. Enjoy the keyword.
The Australian is staying with her friend, local unbeaten boxer Nicola Hopewell. A long day in Liverpool has ended back in Worksop. Both look tired, both engage for around an hour without complaint. The grotesque eye swelling Bridges suffered against Courtenay is no more, there are still visible signs of battle but they are worn with pride.
The diminutive unimposing looking figure at first glance hides the danger that lies in her fists and that magnetic illuminating presence Bridges seems to have been blessed with. The dour demeanour that I inflict on the world seems to gravitate to fighters who are of an extroverted nature. An interest and fascination into the inner character of the fighter. Fighters are a rare breed, they are complex, for any writer they are a good source material. Some fighters can’t let go of the fighter persona, a personal insecurity or living up to the expectations of others, the reason insignificant but I always wonder at what cost to the fighter in question, everyone needs an off switch. Bridges is the opposite, no need for false actions or an aggressive stance outside of the workplace, a time and a place for such behaviour.
The more Bridges spoke in the cold air, the Sydney native clearly struggling with the weather she is unaccustomed to, but the more you hear and see the desire she has for her sport of choice, the passion never dims even in the coldness of the night. Boxing isn’t just a job, it is an obsession, knowledgeable and passionate, Bridges knows her sport. Highlighting her love for the Mexican fighting style, Bridges is in her element as she speaks about the sport she so clearly loves. The insight is informative to what makes her tick and what we can look forward to. Mental notes are made.
Even a year ago, Bridges largely unknown in the UK had something. A plan, a belief and confidence to execute that plan. The conviction in her voice evident, bold ambitions that would be too much for many. Dare to believe, a belief to achieve. There is no arrogance in her words, just self-belief with a little humour thrown in. Bridges speaks, you listen, you often laugh even if it’s an uncomfortable laugh at times.
The Bridges we see today was formed very early in her life. The troubled start to her life drove her forward, not wanting to waste any more of her life. Her parents encouraged her to be creative, the talented artist, developed that creativity far and beyond her drawings. Bridges had a blank canvas for life, her words painted many a picture.
The Twitter following has risen to over 60,000, impressive numbers earned on the back of a year of self-promotion. That following has generated massive interest, and despite coming up short in her recent world title bid, Bridges will soon begin the next stage of her career.
The performance against Courtenay proved she can fight, the exciting style and the charismatic personality ticks every box in the promoters handbook of prospective clients. Bridges has her reward, the monetary benefits of a new contract will soon be announced. The Australian is acutely aware of her market value and what she brings to the table. Even in defeat, Bridges now has the opportunity to go further and she will be paid her worth.
The opportunities that lie in wait will come at a price, a personal relationship put on hold, a difficult decision that didn’t come easy. Another week in the UK, will be followed by a return to Philadelphia to start preparations for her next fight. An opportunity to stay in England you suspect would be taken if it was financially viable, the adopted Brit you sense wants more. There will be no return to her home in Australia in the immediate future, boxing is now her life, everything else can wait no matter how painful to what is left behind.
Hopewell has her next outing this coming weekend, the time spent with Bridges will undoubtedly be of benefit. The confidence of Bridges will be passed on, words of wisdom offered to Hopewell was nice to hear. The admiration of the Worksop fighter for her Australian friend is obvious, many fighters could learn from Bridges. Hopewell will grow as a person and a fighter from her experiences this week. Hopewell has talent this week will have allowed it to grow a little more.
The more time you spend with Bridges you get to see more and more why she is where she is. Unique in her approach, beyond what some will try to tell you, there is a lot of depth to her methods and more so as a person. When she spoke about getting recognised in the street over the past few days in York and Liverpool, her face beams with pride, a joy at making someone’s day for the obligatory selfie. The new fans not a hindrance, a pleasure, a benefit of her occupation.
Look beyond a certain narrative you can see the real Ebanie Bridges. The filter left behind somewhere many years ago, will probably never be found, and for the sake of the story, and the entertainment that will undoubtedly follow, let’s hope it stays lost. A force of nature that even the English weather will not stop.