Katie Healy: ‘I Just Want to Make an Impact in a Way People Remember.’
By Louis Devereux
Women’s Boxing has exploded in popularity in recent years, and there has never been more opportunities for ambitious female fighters to make their mark in the professional game.
One such fighter is Katie Healy, a 23-year-old former world champion kickboxer from Wolverhampton. Currently sat at 2-0 in the professional game, her night fight is scheduled for December the 17th in Birmingham, and Katie told me she has never felt so confident in the lead up to a fight before.
‘To be honest, every day I pick up something different and I learn something new every session. Particularly after my last fight, there are a few things I’ve been working on, putting on pressure and keeping a higher pace, for example.
‘Even when I’m sparring, there might be something I didn’t pick up on a month ago, that I’m now noticing and improving on. It just feels like I’m constantly learning, which is exactly what you want to be feeling before a fight.’
As a relative novice to professional boxing, I wondered how Katie felt her career was progressing so far, where she saw her career going over the next couple of years, and who she was interested in fighting.
‘It’s progressing quite quickly, which I’ve definitely been lucky with. I’ve been backed from the start by my coach, my team, and my promoter Dennis Hobson. I’ve been on the Fightzone shows since the very start and that’s been a massive part of my progress, and I really feel like I’m going at the right pace so far. Going into the new year I expect you’ll see more challenging fights and more difficult fights, which are the sort of fights I want to be involved in.
‘I’m not so much looking at fighting particular people; I’m a lot more focussed on my own career. Even back in the kickboxing days I never called out an opponent; don’t get me wrong, I watch a lot of female fights in my weight class and I think yeah, I’d love to fight them, but I’ve never been the type to say ‘I want to fight you and I’d beat you easy.
‘I trust the decision of my coaches and my manager, and I put my full confidence and trust in them so whoever they put me in front of, that’s who I’ll fight. It’s very rare that I study a fighter because I feel like if I can’t adapt to their style in the first 30 seconds or so, then that’s my own fault. People ask who I’m fighting next and a lot of the time I genuinely don’t know; I’ve always been a lot more focussed on myself than on my opponent.’
Following her success in kickboxing and her flawless professional record thus far, I was interested to find out where Katie believed her ceiling to be, and whether she believed herself to be capable of winning a world title, the pinnacle of professional boxing.
‘I think I would be lying if I didn’t say I want to be a world champion. Like I said, I don’t focus on opponents because I’m more interested in achievements and winning things. Right now, I’m most focussed on improving in every fight I have. Boxing is all about adapting, so my main goal now is to learn the sport, make progress, and keep getting better. In the future, it will be more about headlining shows, winning titles and that sort of thing.’
If you look back to just a few years ago, the idea of a female fighter talking about headlining shows and winning world titles would have seemed almost beyond belief. But women’s boxing has grown to the point where they are amongst some of the biggest names in boxing, and the majority of fight fans enjoy male and female fights equally. I asked Katie why she thought this was, and where she saw women’s boxing going over the next few years.
‘Over the last 18 months, women’s boxing has just gone mad hasn’t it! Every women’s fight is genuinely exciting, and I know people want 3 minute rounds and I have mixed opinions, but I know that because we only get two minutes we don’t have time for inaction. Every round is explosive from start to finish, and every female comes to fight.
‘I just see it getting bigger and bigger to be honest. What’s so lovely to see is the massive increase in young girls getting into the sport, and feeling like they can get into the sport because they now have role models. There’s so much talent coming through and they all want to fight; we all just want to prove what we can do.
‘Women’s boxing is the biggest it has ever been at the moment, and I feel like I joined at the perfect time. People like Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams have really made it mainstream and there are so many young girls at my gym, which is so encouraging to see. I had a few t-shirts made for my last fight, and seeing them wearing them made me feel really proud, like I’m almost a role model for these girls. It’s always been a male dominated sport but hopefully now it’s easier for these girls to visualise themselves being successful.’
As a former kickboxing star, I was interested to find out whether Katie would ever consider following in the footsteps of fighters like Claressa Shields or James Toney, and cross over into MMA.
‘No, I don’t think I’d ever consider MMA. I am so bad at fighting on the ground! I’ve tried to give it a go in training, but it has just never been for me. I enjoy watching it, but my strength is my height and my striking so I wouldn’t stand a chance on the floor. I’d never say never but at the moment I can’t see that being for me.’
With MMA and everything else put firmly on the backburner, it’s clear that Katie’s ambitions lay strictly within boxing, and being successful in the sport. Like all fighters, Katie will leave behind a legacy after retirement, and I ended the interview by asking Katie what she wanted that legacy to be, and how she would like to be remembered.
‘I just want to make an impact in a way people remember. I’d love to be remembered in a positive way; I haven’t found my exact niche yet, but I want to leave my mark and in a few fights time, I’m hoping I will have done enough to make a difference.’
Photo Credit: @afphotgraphy_