Bec Connolly: “I woke up Wednesday to do the weight cut but I felt absolutely horrendous.“
Even from the outside looking in Bec Connolly is a fighter you can’t help have great sympathy for. Life is hard, very hard at times. But trust me, if you knew the full story, the sympathy would be greatly enhanced, it would probably turn to anger and with good reason. There is a story to tell, when she can, she will.
Nothing runs in straight lines for a fighter you can’t help pulling for. One of the unsung heroes of the game, underappreciated, but a vital piece of the jigsaw in a sport of deep murky waters. Connolly in life and in boxing is often swimming against the tide, often fighting with a tsunami of personal problems, the ‘Lady Luck’ nickname is ironic, and in many ways, a harsh reality of her life.
Luck has always been in short supply for someone who never seems to catch a break but who quite remarkably seems to always be able to smile through the constant rounds of adversity and disappointment. This week was supposed to be different, fight camp had been going well, Connolly had been talking up her planned fight tonight in London with Nina Hughes, which she hoped would then lead to a fight with Shannon Courtenay later this year.
“Training camp had been really good. I’ve got a new coach and we have been working on my downfalls, many of them. And yeah, just been feeling really good and looking forward to the fight right up until Tuesday,” Connolly told me over Zoom.
But seemingly as ever, in the typical Connolly way, bad luck yet again intervened. Connolly went to bed on Tuesday evening feeling fine, but when she woke on Wednesday morning, she was anything but fine. Suddenly everything had changed, Connolly had stomach pains, she was feeling nauseous and suffering from what she described as a banging headache. But she initially put it down to having an early period, and there were no instant thoughts about Covid or pulling out of the fight. But any lingering hopes of fighting were extinguished by a positive Covid test:
“I still haven’t had any Covid symptoms at all and that’s why I didn’t know or suspect it was Covid. I woke up Wednesday to do the weight cut but I felt absolutely horrendous. I felt sick, really ill which obviously isn’t a Covid symptom. I just put it down to my period because it was unexpected, I just felt so rough. I just said to myself I am on such a calorie deficit it’s probably just that as well. I just said ask them if they would accept this weight because then I don’t have to weight cut at all and I could just stay in bed, rest and get better.
“But I didn’t hear anything, so I dragged myself through the weight cut, I made 124. And then I got my PCR test from Tuesday, and like I said I still haven’t got any Covid symptoms even now. I still feel rough but it is in my stomach and in my head.”
There were strong words said about Connolly when the fight was officially cancelled, hopefully, just in frustration, and suggestions she was as much as 8lbs over the agreed 123lbs limit. Connolly just laughed when I asked her if this was true:
“I don’t cut that amount of weight on the last day. I said can we do 125 just so I didn’t have to do a weight cut. Some of the things that were said were so unnecessary, I have earned my stripes in this game I have never not made weight. If you look at Rome for my last fight I did a one day camp and still made 124. I’d still rather have gone in and given her a fight rather than just pulling out.”
There was some scepticism about the positive Covid test, possibly a convenient excuse for not being able to make weight, but evidence, history and common sense would suggest otherwise:
“It is my step sons birthday at the weekend we have so many plans everything now is completely out of the window, it’s not just about boxing. This is my living I need the money as much as the next person. My sparring partner Gemma Ruegg was supposed to be fighting on the same night and she has had to pull out as well, her test has come back positive as well, so it’s not just me. But even without Covid I felt really unwell I wasn’t in a fit state to fight, it would have been pulled either way.”
Connolly hopes to be back in the gym early next week after her mandatory isolation period is over, and is already targeting a fight in April, hopefully, with Hughes if the fight can be rescheduled. Despite her losing record Connolly still has ambitions in the sport, and before the illness, she seemed in a really good place and looking for a win that could change everything for her.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Connolly, and she spent much of Thursday feeling sorry for herself with a little bit of anger thrown in for good measure. But the mood had changed a little by the time of our Zoom call, the smile was back and she was looking forward once more. Few would begrudge her a change of luck.