Bec Connolly: “I don’t know who I am without boxing anymore. It saves me every single time from myself.“
By Lewie Laing
Bec Connolly (3-13-0) returns to the ring this Saturday at Wembley Arena to face the up and coming prospect, Ebonie Jones (1-0-1), in a bid to get back to winning ways and put an end to the seven-fight losing streak she is currently on. The record and losing streak don’t tell the full story for a fighter who is often in the away corner on short notice, against the latest prospect on the seemingly never-ending production line.
Last time out, ‘Lady Luck’ was stopped inside two rounds by the unbeaten Nina Hughes in a stoppage she felt at the time was slightly early. It was not the loss itself that bothered Connolly, more the opportunity lost because of it.
“I thought the stoppage against Nina Hughes was an early stoppage, I was pretty annoyed. Because of the stoppage, you get a suspension. 28th of May I was meant to be fighting in New York but because of the suspension, I missed that by two days and, that chance was gone.
“In the fight, I felt okay but I recently fought Skye (Nicolson), I’ve had a few weight cuts lately and I felt that. I knew New York was coming up, I was just worried about getting cut. Instead of fighting my fight, I was more reserved and cautious. I felt okay, Hughes missed a few shots before the ref jumped in but I get it from the ref’s perspective since watching it back.”
Connolly concedes that for a while, life has not been right outside the ring and while she doesn’t use that as an excuse for the losses in boxing, she admits her mind has been elsewhere for a lot of the time. The pressures of working on different businesses, children, relationships, and boxing had reached a head coming up to the Hughes fight and Connolly carried that into the fight.
Connolly has been in this game long enough to know how important being fully focused on boxing is and the dedication needed to reach the required standard to perform on fight night.
“After that Hughes fight, I knew I needed to get my life outside the ring sorted. The stresses of life were having too much of an impact on my boxing. I think it’s fair to say since probably the Bridges fight, I’ve been distracted and had a lot going on. I’m going back to basics, back to myself for this fight. I feel life outside of boxing is now calming down and I’m in a better place. I want to go out there and put on a fight, I love a brawl. I was gutted the way the Hughes fight went, I hadn’t even broken a sweat! I’m excited to go into this next fight with Jones. I’ve put New York behind me, I’m naturally quite positive, and there are still at least two years left for me. I will fight absolutely anyone, and that makes fights win, win for me. I started on the white-collar circuit, and now I’m boxing at Wembley Arena!”
Connolly’s link with boxing started over 10 years ago, in 2011, when following a relationship breakdown, she started the sport to keep her mind right and to have something to focus on. She fought on white-collar shows and enjoyed every minute of it.
Like many in life, boxing and other forms of combat sport have helped to guide us and mould us, well almost. It is a sport that quickly becomes addictive and brings out the best in whoever participates while providing a sense of belonging, guidance, and purpose.
Connolly started with Judo as a kid and knows just how important it was for her to have that anchor of discipline and a family feel within the club. As time has gone by, the featherweight fighter openly admits that it is boxing that has saved her numerous times, from the person standing in the mirror.
“I don’t know who I am without boxing anymore. It saves me every single time from myself. I will box for as long as I possibly can.” Connolly told FightPost.
“Everyone has their story, I grew up in a broken home but loved judo. I would go straight to the gym after school every night of the week. I thought it was being paid for me to attend but it turns out the coach was doing it for free. I was given that as a kid and it helped turn me into who I am today so if I can help children in the community, I will because I know firsthand the effect it has and the good it does.”
Connolly’s journey through boxing has been a hard one. There have been times she has thought of walking away, due to the demand of the brutal business.
What we see as fans on TV, the fame, money and nice cars is a far cry from the reality of those who turn professional away from the bright lights and cameras of big media outlets and promotional companies. Connolly was one of those and knows just how hard it is.
“I spent years selling tickets, small hall shows, it’s a very hard gig. I was told the first 10 fights are the hardest, where you’ve got to work your backside off to make any money and make progress in the rankings. It had me on the verge of giving up a couple of times but I stuck at it.
“On my 10th fight, I got the (Ellie) Scotney fight on the Matchroom show. I was driven to the venue, put up in a hotel, and well looked after. I love doing what I do, I’ve had to work hard to get to where I am, taking fights at short notice and fights I was never meant to win but I get to live my dream, to box and earn a living on big shows. I know I’m often in the away corner and I know my level but I went from never lacing up a pair of boxing gloves to fighting in Eddie Hearn’s back garden!”
The Swindon fighter grows in excitement as the conversation continues, as she maps out her future both immediate and long-term. She has learned from past mistakes of trying to juggle too much at once and feels like life is becoming more peaceful around her, allowing her to focus on the things that matter most. It is clear from every word spoken that helping people is at the centre of every plan Connolly has.
Not only is Connolly a professional boxer, but she is also a reservist in the British Army, and runs a nutrition and fitness business, ‘All Or Nothing Fitness’. Plans are in motion to continue the trend of helping others and the timing seems to be lining up perfectly for Connolly to kickstart her plans both in and out of boxing.
“I have a nutrition and training business. I love the training and helping people. I have a friend I’ve partnered up with in Poland, where we have renovated barns into retreats where people can go to get a break from life and recharge while pushing themselves with boxing and physical training, almost like a fight camp. We have done a lot of research and have the people who are experts in mental health, so we are targeting short one and two-week camps with intensified sessions where we can get people back onto their right path as quickly as possible, I’m very passionate about this as we don’t have a long time in life.”
“I took a year’s leave from the British Army as a reservist, and I am due to go back too soon. I thought I’d get this fight out the way, get the next one booked in, and then get back to the army on weekends, I like the lifestyle and structure it gives. The army has been very good to me so I’m excited to get back there and start helping where I can.
“I am the first female to qualify as a front-line soldier. It isn’t something many people know. I was pushed to my limits, let’s put it that way. I passed out 10 days for the (Natasha) Jonas fight so it was all a whirlwind.”
Connolly plans on becoming a trainer and managing female fighters who are coming through when she hangs up the gloves, knowing her career speaks for itself. She has been in with current world champions Ebanie Bridges, Natasha Jonas, and former world champ, Terri Harper along with hot prospects, Ellie Scotney, Ramla Ali, and Skye Nicolson. The experience of fighting that calibre of opposition on such big stages cannot be bought or faked.
As of right now, however, Connolly is fully focused on giving herself and her fans as many memorable nights as possible. There is the hope of a shot at a title. There may be losses on the record but Connolly has always drawn the short straw, it has been done the hard way, and it is never on her terms. Whichever way the fights play out for Connolly, you can guarantee there will be excitement against anyone put in front of her.
“The Bridges fight probably changed me I had no coach, the big stage for a world title eliminator, the pressure got to me, I had a lot going on outside of boxing. I just fell short but that is something others can learn from, my experiences, what to do and what not to do.
“I know I’m British, Commonwealth level, and can mix it with these girls at this level and girls coming through. I can absolutely fight at that level and would like to get one more shot at a title. I may not make it at world level but I can win at Commonwealth level.
“I know I’ve been in this game a long time now and time isn’t on my side, I just want to give my all the next couple of years. I want to be in the most exciting fights, regardless of what corner I am in. I will fight absolutely anyone at any time. No protecting records or picking fights, I will fight anyone.”