Lisa Whiteside: The Second Coming

Lisa Whiteside: The Second Coming

By Lewie Laing

Curveballs seem to come at any moment in life, normally when you least expect them. They can derail ideas, knock belief and confidence, and grind some to a halt. For others, like Chorley-born Lisa Whiteside, the curveballs have been more a blessing and growth experience that have her now, eagerly awaiting a second coming in the boxing ring. 

The highly-rated and decorated Team GB amateur star turned pro in 2019, following medals at European and world championships, topped off by a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Whiteside won all three pro bouts and looked on course for big things. Life, however, had other ideas. Family plans were hampered by boxing.

“I ended up stepping away from the pro game after winning three fights at flyweight. Me and my husband were wanting to start a family. It became apparent after speaking to specialists that depleting my body and making weight was stopping us from having a family so stepping away from boxing was a no-brainer, there was no doubt in my mind and I didn’t think I would be coming back to either.

“I got to about the 20-week stage of pregnancy and I just got that fire back, I knew I wanted to return to boxing and get my little boy, Jensen, a world title. I have so much more willpower and desire now to do it for my boy.”

Whiteside returned to boxing following the birth of her son and made good progress in the gym. Just as the plans were being put in place for a return to the ring, life would again throw a curveball, leaving her with questions on whether coming back was even possible.

“I was due to return summer time of 2021, close to signing a deal and making an announcement. I was sparring and tore the tendon in my rotator cuff in my shoulder. It was a tough time, it was very expensive to go private and get the operation, so I went through down the NHS route. It was hard and in my mind, I did think, can I come back from this after such a long time out and a long wait for the operation. Priorities change in life but I kept pushing and believed in myself. And here I am, ready and excited about what’s to come.”

Now 36, Lisa Whiteside is back in the gym again and awaiting the green light on what is very much a second coming. She knows she will need to move quicker than some in the red hot world that is women’s boxing but would not want it any other way. The curveballs in life and time out of the ring have her approaching this second coming differently with the end goal being clear for all to see.  

She has unwavering confidence and belief in herself driven by her boy, Jensen, and the support of her family, and fully expects to be in the world title mix sooner rather than later. With three fights already as a pro, she knows what is to come, and that can stand her in good stead. While learning in the ring has increased, her team outside of the ring has also, in the aim of fulfilling her potential.

“My goal is to get my boy a world title, S-JAM boxing, my management team is looking at the best route to go for me coming back. I want to get the first fight back done and dusted, not an easy fight but a fight I can come and have a second debut almost. Get rid of the ring rust and then I’m ready to go, I’m hoping for a very big year. I am not cocky, but I believe in myself, I am capable of beating the best and want the big fights. The average age of a female world champ is 37 and I’m 36 so I’m right on time. I know I can do it, and it isn’t something I want to look back on and regret not doing.

“I’ve had a pre-training camp just to build myself back to a level ready to start full training camp. We are on the verge of announcing a new deal and fight. I’m working with strength and conditioning coach, Kristian Blacklock who works with Tyson Fury, if you want to be the best, you have to be trained by the best, the difference in the 5 weeks I have been with him is just phenomenal. I’m still with my boxing coach Mick, who has been with me since my amateur days and knows me inside out. We’ve been working a lot more on technique, being smarter. I used to be full throttle, hard spars, but the small changes we’ve been making, working around the shoulder injury, have added a lot to my game and I hope to show that when I get back into the ring.”

Women’s boxing has grown so much while Whiteside has been watching from afar. Women are fighting on almost every card that is put together by promoters every week, with some cards being headlined by females. It is a different landscape from the one Whiteside exited in 2019. 

Whiteside is convinced her style will suit the pro games, the first three fights are proof of that. She will return at a comfortable weight that is currently one of the most talked-about divisions in all of boxing, ready to make her mark.

“The women’s game now has really gone boom while I’ve been away! I can’t wait to get back involved. The time away has put me in such a great place mentally. I’m thankful for my time out and in that time, women’s boxing has gone to a whole new level.” 

My style is more suited to the pro game, you see the majority of people coming through and turning pro all have that high-level amateur pedigree. I have the same pedigree and I’ve had three pro fights at flyweight but I’ll be coming back at super-bantamweight, possibly bantamweight depending on what opportunity arises. They are busy weight classes right now! Most of us females don’t want to box journeywomen, we want to get in with the best and go for it, take the risk as we believe we can win.”

Whiteside has stood shoulder to shoulder with some of Britain’s best amateurs who are now professionals and speaks of how proud she is one of those, Savannah Marshall. The pair were teammates when Marshall won gold and while concentrating on kickstarting her own career, Whiteside paid tribute to her friend and the platform she is creating for other women following her path.

“To see my good friend Savannah Marshall headlining live on Sky, defending her world title, I was absolutely made up for her. Not many people know but I was there when she beat Claressa Shields in the amateurs so I will not be missing that one when it gets announced!

“We spent a lot of time travelling the world together. I remember watching Sav become the world amateur champion on her 21st birthday, it was so special. And I’m so pleased to see what she has gone on to achieve.”

Whiteside is grounded and content with how life has played out to now. She has a son and a supportive family while being able to continue boxing, something she has done now for 15 years and has given a lot to. She reflects on how she got into boxing in the first place and just how far she has come, along with just how important her family is in her day-to-day life. It is clear without her family, nothing else would matter. 

Boxing taking a backseat is perhaps, the only reason it can now be the main focus for Whiteside. What once hindered life, is now part of the main focus in life and Lisa Whiteside can’t wait to do what she does best, all for her family and in particular, her boy, Jensen.

“I only started boxing when I was 21 just for fitness to help me when I was training for the police. I was a police officer and took a career break to get onto Team GB where I was for around 6 years, travelling the world. I was away from home a lot, sacrificed a lot but also gained a lot of experience and achievements. Who would have thought starting something for fitness would lead to travelling the world doing something I love, it’s surreal and there is still so much more to come.

“I have an amazing mum and my husband John, who help me and support me. We have a great routine for Jensen that allows me to train full time with their help. I gave a talk to an amateur club not so long ago, Jensen came and watched as I body sparred with some of the girls, he was mesmerised. 

“Everything is for him, if I can do it, then it is for him.”

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