Bec Connolly: “Obviously I’m Going In To Win.”
By Hannah Lucas
For Bec Connolly, the biggest fight of her career is within touching distance.
When the lights go down and her ring walk anthem ripples around Eddie Hearn’s backyard, Connolly’s mind will be tunnel visioned on walking out of the ring successful.
After all, victory on the Fight Camp stage this weekend could unlock the door to a bout in which she could achieve her biggest dream – a belt.
But, her opponent won’t be making things easy for her. Remember the war between Ebanie Bridges and Shannon Courtenay, right? Well, Blonde Bomber Bridges will most certainly be coming back to this bout planning to bring the heat.
But that doesn’t faze Connolly. She’s not one for the trash talk – she remains focussed, composed and with her eyes on the prize, victory.
All Connolly will need then is for someone out there to recognise her potential and be willing to step up and take a chance by putting forward a lucrative offer to her.
She expressed her desire for that to become a reality, “hopefully there would be a really nice offer for the next fight, because my aim always was to retire from boxing with a belt. I wanted the Commonwealth, but I think this is a really good division for me to be in.”
The ambition of boxing success has been a goal Connolly, 37, has held for years. Her love for martial arts began at a young age where she reached a good level in her late teens, until a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder brought her final fight prematurely.
Fast forward to 2011, her hometown, Swindon, is a ‘fighting town’ and Bec is fresh out of her marriage after getting divorced.
She remembers, “it was the one thing that always niggled at me all the way through and then when I was back at square one again, I was like no, I’m going to see if I can fight and I walked in to Paddy Fitzpatrick’s gym and the rest is history, we hit it off and were like two peas in a pod.”
Connolly fast became a hot boxing prospect and joined the amateurs in 2016. But, she longed to be in the pro ranks.
“I didn’t really like the amateurs if I’m honest. It was just around the time where they were taking head guards away, but only for the men not the women and that really riled me, as I never wore a head guard sparring, I felt really claustrophobic in them.
“Paddy had George Groves at that time, so we were spending a lot of time up in London at and they were doing white collar, a really good circuit around Hammersmith and it was all ex amateur girls, so I was having a whale of a time getting the fights in. Then, it got to the point where it was impossible to get fights, everyone was like ‘nah’ and I lost a few, but I was winning the majority of things.
“Then I saw the Board wouldn’t take me because of my age and I didn’t have enough experience, but we went in (to the pros) with 32 fights in the end and decided that was the route we was going to go and just to fight anyone.”
But, for women, the pay gap between their male boxing counterparts is still huge. Boxing earnings alone are rarely enough to be an income source for them.
Alongside boxing, Connolly is a nutritionist and runs her own business.
“I’ve got my own ‘All or Nothing Fitness,’ so I’m a plant-based nutritionist, so I do a lot of PT and stuff. I hit it more from the mental side of things, a whole approach where it’s mind and body training, and I’m big on food curing. So, I do more medicinal programmes, where I make up people’s food if they have a diagnosis. It’s more of a detox, but it is completely possible to change yourselves with food, so I really enjoy what I do, especially when you change people’s lives.”
But, during the lockdowns, she found her business was on the verge of going under.
Rather than watching it sink and wallowing in self pit, Connolly tried her hand in all different occupations.
She recalls, “I was just doing anything in lockdown. At first I got mobilised, because I’m a part time soldier, then everyone got stood down, so I just picked up any work I could get – cleaning, scaffolding, labouring.”
Though Connolly struggled hardships relating to her work and finances during lockdown, she did manage to pick up an opportunity very few were lucky enough to at that time – a professional boxing bout.
In March, Connolly stepped in to take a fight against Bethnal Green boxer, Ramla Ali. But, she was only given three days’ notice.
With weight to cut, but so little time, she found herself struggling in the ring.
“I was one of the few that got out. I’m not one to make excuses, she won she’s a very good boxer, but I think given a proper camp, which I’m so glad I got one this time, 16lbs is a lot of weight to lose in three days.
“It didn’t hit me until the second or third round and I was like, ‘oh no, this does not feel good.’
“With this camp, I’ve had six weeks, so this is the first week of camp and if I had to fight tomorrow, I’d be like, ‘no way,’ so I can’t believe I actually managed to do it.”
But with the past in the past, ‘Lady Luck’ must only look forward now and casts her eye to her upcoming Fight Camp bout.
“I’m so excited, because we were going to do fight camp last year, the Ellie Scotney fight, but then both of us had different injuries and different problems, so it got delayed. But, I’m glad it happened in the end.
“But, yeah, I didn’t get to do Fight Camp, so when I saw Rachel and everyone there I was like, ‘oh my god, that looks wicked!’ So, I’m proper excited for this one.
“Obviously I’m going in to win. If she fights like she did in the Shannon fight it will be pure entertainment for eight rounds, but if I was her trainer, I’d be telling her to box more this time.
“You never know you can watch all the footage you want, but you don’t know till they’re stood in front of you, so I always concentrate on me and doing everything I do to the best of my ability and screw what someone else is doing, so that’s all I can do really, concentrate on me.”
But, for this fight, Connolly has gone solo – no trainer, just the knowledge she has gained herself along her journey through the sport.
“My coach Paddy left 18 months ago, then I was with Mike Reeves for the last two fights, but my life’s so chaotic I couldn’t commit the time that he required and it just wasn’t fair. So, I’ve gone out on my own for this one, which has been really difficult in some ways.
“I’ve got ten years behind me now, so I’m hoping I’ve been taught well through these coaches that I know what’s required, but then you’re always second guessing yourself like, ‘am I doing everything that’s required? Am I putting enough in?’ So, it’s been a bit of a transition to being bossed around in the gym, but it’s going good so far.”
Come Saturday night, Connolly’s self-taught techniques and independent training will be put to the test.
If her resilience, determination, and powerful mindset shine through, there’s no reason why the win can’t be hers for the taking.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing