Ebanie Bridges: “I want to change people’s lives. I’ve always been someone who wants to help and teach.”
Life is very different now for Ebanie Bridges. Things have changed dramatically for her in the past year or so. But for Bridges, it was all part of the plan. To her, It was no real surprise how quickly her life has changed. In truth, if an injury hadn’t ruled her out of a world title fight with Rachel Ball last year, she would have got here even quicker.
2021 has resulted in four fights, three wins, but the one setback made her. Despite losing to Shannon Courtenay on her first trip to UK soil, the manner of that defeat solidified Bridges has far more than the lingerie model some wanted to label her as. Courtenay was supposed to knock her back into the land of social media. But sometimes, even in defeat, you can come out the winner. The born fighter inside her was always likely to shine through on her moment of truth.
Bridges returned to England twice more, impressively stopping a fully prepared Bec Connolly at Fight Camp before fighting through injuries to overcome the tough Mailys Gangloff in Leeds a few weeks later.
But Bridges then needed a breather, maybe the world did too. The Australian went off the radar, physically and mentally she needed the rest. Bridges never stops, but even the workaholic needed to give herself a break and live a more sedate life.
But the rest was always going to be short-lived. Even as our Zoom interview started, Bridges was packing her bags, the globetrotting and the living out of a suitcase about to begin once more. A short trip to America followed by a series of meet and greet dates in the UK, before a return to the ring planned for early next year. Bridges told FightPost the hand injury she suffered in the Gangloff fight is healing and she is back in training gearing up for what comes next:
“My hands getting better all the time, my physio said hopefully, I can start punching with it next week, she wants me to go as long as I can without impact. I’m coming over to England and I will be training with Mark Tibbs so I want to be able to throw the right hand when I come over there. Besides the hand, I am now back in full training.”
For Bridges, the hustle and the work rarely stop. Bridges pushes herself harder than most, inside and outside of the ring. The injuries, a minor inconvenience, she just carries on regardless trying to maximise every single second of her life:
“I’m 35, I don’t have time to pace myself. Am I going to wait while everything is better and then get ring rust? I have had a rest, my last fight was in September. I went home, spent time in quarantine, I filmed the SAS series which was hard on my body. But since then I have rested my body, I had 3/4 weeks complete rest. Physically and mentally I shut everything out. Then I thought let’s get going again and now I back into it again.”
Bridges went back home to Australia in September for the first time since March. It was a painful and emotional sacrifice, but a necessary one. Sometimes the easy decision isn’t the right decision. Bridges not for the first time in her life chose the hardest one, leaving her life behind to chase the glory. Previously Bridges would be unrecognised in her home country, a far cry from some of the near hysteria she encounters on UK soil. But her success has now reached her homeland, and despite her upturn in life, Bridges hasn’t forgotten those that helped her get there:
“People are recognising me a little more over here now, which is surprising because boxing isn’t really that big over here. I have been seeing a lot of my old sponsors, they were the original sponsors and they have always had my back paying for my flights for the Shannon Courtenay bout. Since that fight, I have got more sponsors now especially in the UK. But it is good to show your appreciation and love for those that were there at the start because without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. They will always be part of my journey in some way.”
‘The Blonde Bomber’ was never going to sit still for long. In truth, it is not in her nature. Bridges gets restless, plans are seemingly always being made. Bridges will likely be chasing something for the rest of her life, there will always be something to achieve you would assume. The immediate aim is a world title, Eddie Hearn has said he is looking to make that fight next for her. Bridges would have liked a belt before now, but early next year she could get her wish:
“I’m looking at February/March time, certainly no earlier than February and I don’t want to leave it any longer than March, obviously it all depends on if my hand holds out when I start punching with it properly again. My next fight I am hoping it will be for a world title, I know Eddie has said he is trying to get me a world title fight and I think I deserve one.”
Bridges has held training camps in Australia, Philadelphia and in the UK. Travelling into different timezones is never ideal, it’s much harder on the body and the wallet also. Fighting in America is an option but a slimmer one in comparison to a possible fight in the UK. Much of her fanbase and the majority of her sponsors are based in the UK. The likelihood is that Bridges will look to continue to build on many things early next year with another fight in the UK. Bridges told FightPost that where she fights next will determine where her training camp lands:
“What I would like to do is set up a training camp in the UK, especially if that is where I will be fighting. It is just smarter for me to be over there. Everything is there in the UK for me like my sponsors, it is just a smarter move financially for me to base myself there for a training camp. I can keep building there. I love my trainers and my camp in America, they are all amazing, but economically the UK makes more sense if that is where I will be fighting. I think if I fight in America I will build a camp there as well because it is less travelling for me.”
There is probably no better example of a meteoric rise than the Ebanie Bridges story. Through her own unique marketing strategy, Bridges has very quickly but highly effectively, built her brand. As she once told me: “I built me.”
It is very easy to lose sight of just how far she has come in such a short time. But if an injury hadn’t scuppered her plans last year it could have come even quicker:
“This time last year I should have been fighting Rachel Ball for the world title and then I got my shoulder injury. I was then on my way back home from America thinking that’s my world title fight gone. But I always say everything happens for a reason and that fight wasn’t meant to happen and my introduction to the UK was meant to be the Courtenay fight.”
Bridges is resilience personified, a life of overcoming adversity, injuries just part of the course. A low key return to action in March was quickly followed by the long-anticipated grudge match that made her. In an arena without fans, Bridges made a lot of noise and more than proved her point.
The jealousy by some of her success was predictable, but many more are now learning from her methods:
“It’s crazy to think about how far it has come. Even in March this year I was fighting in a car park in Australia. And now I am the most talked-about female fighter in the industry and that has only really happened in the last few months. I see a lot of girls online and I feel I have paved the way. I like them being different and being themselves because it brings more excitement to women’s boxing.”
Respect is hard-earned in boxing, Bridges knows this all too well:
“Some fans are fickle, they have a go at me about the Gangloff fight. But watch it without the commentators and tell me I lost. I’m definitely getting more respect now than when I was first on the scene before I fought Shannon. My fans are very supportive and it has grown. I do have the respect now and it is nice to have that respect but I am not a person that cares about respect and at the end of the day I am just being me. I know how hard I work I respect myself, if people respect me then great if not then I don’t really care. I don’t need anyone else to respect me to feel accomplished.”
It is doubtful if Bridges will ever be truly satisfied, her story has many chapters left to write. But make no mistake, Bridges is a fighter at heart and she wants to go in the record books as a world champion:
“Look at me I’m not even a world champion yet and look at how big my brand is. Once I get a world title it will be a big thing for me and that is what I am fighting for, that’s where I want to be in my career. I want to be in those books as a world champion. Hopefully, those dreams come true and that’s what I want.”
Bridges is a school teacher for a reason. Maybe she is at her happiest when she is giving back. Heavily driven by your own desires doesn’t mean you have to be self-centered. The time Bridges gives back rarely gets a mention, many want to force another narrative that drives more clicks on their readers. Bridges is incredibly passionate about her own career, but when you hear her talk about inspiring others the passion goes up a notch.
“It is only just beginning, boxing is a short career for me, but even when I have finished fighting I still see myself as being in it as a commentator or something and still being a big voice in the sport and I still hope to inspire and help other fighters. My passion is helping people believe in themselves and seeing people reach their goals. I like to get the kids to believe in themselves and have dreams and to go and get and not just sit back and wish and hope and have that mindset that anything is possible. If my brand continues to grow I can inspire and motivate people on a much wider scale, I want to change people’s lives. I’ve always been someone who wants to help and teach.
“The whole point of what I am doing now and the reason I push so hard on the PR stuff and building that brand and my name is that I know boxing won’t be around forever and after boxing, I can use that to have a career and inspire people. A lot of people don’t have a plan after boxing and they struggle because they are lost and that’s not me. I want to use my brand to be successful and to help people as well.”
Bridges said recently on her Twitter account that you don’t have to shrink for anyone, and regularly talks about just being you. It is these types of messages that are so important to many people. If you are not true to yourself how can you possibly be happy with your life. Bridges will return to teaching at some point, not because she has to, but because she wants to. That is the Ebanie Bridges few will want to acknowledge.
It is too easy to hate in life and be jealous of what others achieve. Bridges suffers more hate than she deserves, she won’t care of course, but she deserves better. She talks about inspiring others, and that has already started. Instead of hating there are many more now learning from her, there is always a way to get your story out, in many ways, there is always room for more.
It is hard spending time with her and not being motivated to leave self-pity at the door and get up and do something and follow your dreams. Life is way too short, you only get one go at it, make the best of it.
After a troubled start in life Bridges vowed not to waste a single second of her life again. It’s fair to say she is doing exactly that.