Hannah Robinson: “I don’t want to leave the sport with any regrets.”
In many ways, the next phase in the life of the Bishop Auckland native and amateur starlet Hannah Robinson is about to begin. There are decisions to be made in her boxing career which has been put on hold in recent times to you know what. But outside of her boxing life, she has a clear path ahead of her.
Robinson is about to begin her second year studying for her Masters Degree at Sheffield University in Nutrition and Sports Exercise. Robinson told FightPost she has made changes in her already busy schedule to ensure her boxing and studying do not suffer:
“I’ve done my first year in my Masters, I’ve been doing it part-time. I did that and got a First Class and I am starting my second year this week. I’ve quit my job with the NHS because I just don’t have time anymore. I got away with it last year because everything was online but now I need to be physically there.”
At 27, Robinson has many years ahead of her in her sport of choice, but there are tentative plans already being made to use her degree wisely once her boxing career is over:
“Firstly I want to use it for my own knowledge for my boxing career. When I have finished boxing myself I want to use it to ideally work with boxers to help them with making weight because it is a massive thing in boxing especially with women because I think they are underrepresented and to get someone who has experienced it and studied it would obviously help. So I think there would be plenty of work for me.”
The last time I interviewed Robinson the world was very different. Early March 2020 was one of relative innocence a planet seemingly unsuspecting of what was about to hit. Everything has changed, Robinson her career already hit by previous injuries and was stalled once again by the pandemic. With no fight in two years, Robinson has used her time wisely and made changes to her training regime:
“A lot of things have changed since the last time we spoke. I am no longer with Birtley I am training in Darlington and I feel like a different boxer now. I haven’t boxed for two years now. I was training for the ABA’s when we spoke last and then they got cancelled and the world changed.”
Many fighters without a fight in sight and their normal place of training out of reach due to the numerous lockdowns lost motivation for their craft, Robinson was different. Changes made to her team saw the desire remain and improvements made:
“In the first lockdown everything was shut, gyms and everything, but I managed to buy a punchbag online and I put that up in my garden. I did a few weights and bits like that and that’s when I started training with Peter Shepperson in Darlington and I felt that I was improving and really coming on. Peter then opened his own gym and when we were in and out of lockdown he was staying open for the elite athletes.”
Robinson has been on Team GB since 2018 and her ring hiatus should end at the end of November when she is planning to enter the ABA’s which hopefully will kick start her career:
“I’m still part-time with Team GB, I have a week on week off with them in Sheffield. I’m just excited to box again. I’m doing the ABA’s again later this year, so hopefully, I will put on a really good performance there and then see where that takes me. I want to box in the Commonwealth Games next year.”
With no fight in recent times, Robinson is keen to get back to boxing. Thankfully the time off hasn’t been wasted, it has been used to hone her skills and when Robinson does return she promises to show us a much-improved version:
“I am desperate to get out it is frustrating more than anything. I am just trying to keep focused and keep my weight down. I haven’t really used this past year as time off, I love training so I just concentrated on the process of getting better. I have improved a lot. I have got better at a few things and worked on my own style. So I think it will be a completely different me when I start competing again.”
The professional side of the sport is riddled with politics much to the detriment of the Noble Art. But maybe even more so, the unpaid ranks struggles in the same manner. I have spoken to fighters who have left the amateur code in frustration for one reason or another. The lack of weight divisions is an ongoing problem. Fighters are often caught in a trap of being in limbo between different weight classes which restricts the opportunities they have and often leaves them with nowhere to go but turn over.
Hopefully, plans are being made to rectify that, which will help Robinson in the long term. But the immediate future the focus is on trying to get her weight down to be able to compete in November:
“It’s frustrating at the moment I was sort of expected to be moved on. They are bringing more weights out but they haven’t been announced yet. So at the moment, I don’t know if they will want me at a new weight. I’m kind of sat between two weight divisions. There is a 60kg and a 69kg, at the minute I am too heavy for 60kg but not big enough for 69kg. For the ABA’s I am going to try and get down to 60kg, but a new weight division of 64kg would be better for me but that weight hasn’t come in yet so they can’t offer us a position there.”
Women’s boxing has finally gained an acceptance, and the boom period shows no signs of slowing down. The wafer-thin depth looks to be quickly resolving itself as more and more are turning over and fighters coming over from other martial arts to flood the sport with new talent. In her period of frustration, Robinson has looked on with some envy. Having beaten the likes of Shannon Courtenay who is now a world champion, the temptation to join the revolution is obvious:
“There has been a temptation to turn professional. When you see people you have sparred with or beaten in the amateurs on TV getting that recognition it makes me think I can do that.
“Deep down I feel that I have got unfinished business in the amateurs, more experience and international medals. But in the professional ranks, you obviously get the financial rewards and the recognition that I don’t think I am getting at the minute. It is frustrating because I am training hard and improving loads but nobody is seeing it. I am not getting selected for tournaments and I am not on the TV doing what the professionals are doing. That does frustrate me at times but I also know I am still progressing as a boxer. There has been interest to turn professional and it is something I definitely want to do, I want to be a world champion. It’s just timing it and when I do it. I don’t want to leave the sport with any regrets.”
Robinson has been gaining experience sparring with world champions like Terri Harper and Chantelle Cameron. But there have been regular visits to the Joe Gallagher gym in Bolton. Frequent sparring with the likes of Natasha Jonas and the potential new star of the sport Rhiannon Dixon, who share a card this weekend in Liverpool:
“Peter takes me up to Bolton on a regular basis. It’s great sparring with the likes of Natasha and Rhiannon and the gym has such a great vibe. Sparring with the pro’s does inspire and makes you think I can do this. Women’s boxing has really taken off in the last year and where I was a little tempted before, now I’ve got some decisions to make.”
The future might be clouded but it still promises to be a golden one. It is hard not to feel sympathy for her plight. Robinson is still a fighter in isolation, struggling to find where she belongs in many ways.
Sooner rather than later Robinson will no doubt join the professional ranks, the temptation will become too hard to resist. With the right offer at the right time, one promoter will have an incredibly talented fighter on their books.