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понедельник, 30 января 2017 г.

Fight club for girls!

Gone are the times when a bad day at the office meant diving into a bottle of wine to unwind. A new breed of women don’t get stressed, they get violent

This evening is fight night at the Troxy, a cavernous old cinema nestled in the heart of London's East End. The 1,000-strong crowd is already hyped up when, suddenly, the deep bass lines of Move Bitch by American rapper Ludacris pound through the sound system. The hard-hitting song title gives some clue as to what the crowd can expect.

The girls are pulling no punches
Tonight's fight is different for two reasons. Firstly, it's a white-collar affair. Competitors are all mid-management professionals working in office and city jobs. Secondly, women are taking to the ring for the first time in the event's history.
Like the premise behind Fight Club, the cult movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, businessmen in London have been competing in these events for years. And, as women will be boxing for the first time in the 2012 London Olympics, they've been allowed to take part here, too.
The only thing that differentiates them from the boys is the chest protectors they wear underneath their bras.
First up tonight are Sabina Begum and Tiffany Simons. They make their way through the baying crowd towards the boxing ring, illuminated by strobe lights.
By day, both women power dress for their office jobs. They love all things girlie - shopping, going to the cinema, choosing make-up. And they've got wardrobes full of hot frocks and high heels.
But tonight, they're wearing red and blue silk shorts and vest tops, with padded head wear and mouth guards to protect themselves. It means they're free to focus on their game and throwing that killer left hook.
A bell rings to start the fight and the spectators fall silent as the women begin sparring. Then as their padded gloves power into each other's bodies, the crowd erupts.
"You've got to have a lot of balls to get into that ring," says Dan Walker, 28, a banker who's watching the action. "I admire any woman who can do it."
It's great prep for sealing a deal!
Boxing is high risk. But these women will argue that the potential for injury is there in every sport - any guy is just as likely to break his leg playing football as these women are getting physical in the ring.
After three rounds lasting one and a half minutes each, the fight is over. But surprisingly, there's no winner and no prizes at the end. Tonight's fight is purely to raise money for a local gym's boxing group. Why then are these women so drawn to the ring?
"Boxing's changed my life," says Tiffany, 33. "I needed a way of coping with work stress and this gives me the buzz I need."
Sabina, 25, agrees. "Training gives me a high and landing punches makes me feel good."
Sports psychologist Professor Andy Lane, from the University of Wolverhampton, isn't surprised female boxing is becoming more popular. "Boxing involves a great deal of emotional control, confidence and mental toughness," he says. "These are also key attributes for women in high-powered jobs. They're used to working in male-dominated environments and going into the ring in a traditionally male-dominated sport is another way of proving they can take on the boys."
And it's not just their fitness levels that improve - job prospects could, too. "Boxing can help women increase their confidence for confrontations at work, as they're less likely to feel intimidated," says Andy.
"You need to be single-minded to box, and the sport's ultimately about being the last one standing. In that sense, the training and competition are great preparation for sealing a deal in the boardroom."
Well, we guess it beats chanting along to a motivational CD...

"Boxing's the best form of stress relief"

Tiffany leaves her heels at home on fight night
Tiffany Simons, 33, from Essex is a distribution and logistics team leader for a private bank in London. She says:
"Six months ago, I'd never have dreamed I'd be taking part in a boxing match. You'd be more likely to find me in a bar with the lads from work, trying to forget what a stressful day we'd all had.
Now I strap up my hands, slip on my gloves and pound my frustrations away in the ring. It's so tiring, I don't have a chance to think about work - all I can focus on is not getting my nose broken.
I started boxing after seeing an advert in the paper from a local gym offering training for women. At first, I wasn't sure if it was for me. I imagined it was a man's sport and that women would be laughed at. But I needed a way to cope with the stress of office life. I'm in charge of a team of 11 men and I have to make sure everything runs like clockwork. When things go wrong it can be incredibly stressful. I'd kick-boxed before and had loved the rush of adrenaline it gave me, so I decided to see if boxing could give me the same buzz and stress relief.

Tiffany gets into 'the zone'
I didn't want to be the only woman there, so I phoned the gym first, and when the organiser said I wouldn't be on my own I felt a bit better.
I turned up to the first lesson in my smart work clothes, expecting just to watch at first. The gym was gritty, a really basic place, but I liked the fact there were no airs and graces, and after a few minutes, I decided to get changed into my gym kit and jump straight in. Although it was mainly men training, it was comforting to see a few other women there as well.
The first couple of weeks were about improving my levels of fitness, shadow boxing, hitting the punch bag, learning what to do. Now, I train three times a week for two hours at a time.
I've lost 7lb but have put on muscle and my arms look much more toned. I've cut down on my drinking, and I've stopped going out to the pub with friends on Friday nights, as I just can't cope with a Saturday morning training session if I have a hangover. It's too painful!
I'm not afraid to get hurt in the ring, though. If I'm honest, I was more worried about looking silly on fight night in front of my friends and family than breaking any bones.
I've taken a few hits in the face during training, so I know now what to expect. Luckily my head gear protected me. I don't have a boyfriend sitting at home worrying about me, but my family are incredibly supportive. They know how headstrong I am, so they'd never try to stop me.
I'm not afraid to get hurt in the ring
When I first told the men at work about my new hobby, there were quite a few jokes about me getting knocked out. Some of them even said it wasn't for women! That only riled me even more to prove to them that I can be as tough as a guy.
Before my fight against Sabina, I had six practice bouts with other women in training and they got quite vicious. It was a shock when one amateur female boxer whacked me on the nose. But she gave some great tips at the end of the fight - telling me not to drop my left hand, which helped. She also said: 'The first thing I'd do in a real fight is break your nose and while you're concentrating on the pain, I'd hit your body.'
It was a real shock, but feeling the pain made me want to win even more. I've fought one guy so far and that was brilliant because it meant I could punch even harder.
I gave a girl a nosebleed the other day. I asked her if she was OK, but you can't worry about it too much otherwise you wouldn't go back in the ring. You have to put your emotions aside - you're there to win, after all.
Boxing has changed my life. Instead of going for an after-work pint to combat my stress, I bash it out in the ring. I wanted to prove I was 'man enough' to go ahead with the fight and now I have, nothing's going to stop me."

"Landing a punch feels great"

Sabina knows no pain, no gain!
Sabina Begum, 25, from London is a corporate banker. She says:
"My parents will go mad when they find out I've been boxing. I told my two brothers when I started, but swore them to secrecy as I didn't want Mum and Dad stopping me. I love it too much!
My two-hour training sessions twice a week leave me on an incredible high and de-stressed from my high-pressure career in banking.
Although I was a member of a gym, I hadn't done any sports for years. So when one of the guys in my office suggested I tried boxing, I don't know why I said yes.

I was terrified the first time I stepped into the boxing club. My first training session left me in bits. It was the skipping that got me. I'd never done it before and couldn't coordinate myself for weeks - I dreaded that more than getting in the ring!
The first time I fought someone, I was scared. I held back a bit, bobbing around at the edge, trying not to get involved. But once I'd been punched a couple of times, something inside me snapped, I wanted to hit back. I landed a few hits on my opponent and felt a rush. I was hooked.
The worst injury I've had is a hard punch to the nose. I didn't feel it at the time, but the next day I was in agony and had to put ice on it. My boyfriend was very upset. But he's supportive and even comes to watch me fight.
My new hobby has caused quite a stir at work. The girls think it's great, but some of the guys said I shouldn't be doing it. My manager told me he didn't approve, saying it wasn't a sport for women. But I don't care. I fully intend to keep fighting.
Competing for the first time against Tiffany was nerve-wracking. But after I threw the first punch I forgot where I was and just got stuck in. It was the first time I'd felt serious pain, as Tiffany really went for it, but I gave as good as I got. I came out of the ring on such a massive high. I can't wait for my next match to feel that rush again."

"My husband hates me fighting"

Clare gets a thrill in the ring
Clare Sheikh, 47, from London, is group director of strategy and marketing for an insurance company. She couldn't take part in the white-collar match because of an injury. She says:
"I feel like I lead a double life. In the morning I go to work in a designer Diane von Furstenberg dress. I slip on my Louboutins and stride into the boardroom to head up a conference. A few hours later, I change into my scruffy shorts and washed-out T-shirt and jog to London's East End to punch the hell out of another woman in a boxing ring.
I've been white-collar boxing for almost four months - much to the horror of my husband Ayyaz and 15-year-old daughter, Jessica. They're both terrified of me being injured in a fight. I'm not afraid though. I've always been into physically demanding sports. I play squash and polo, so when one of my colleagues dared me to take part in a boxing match, I couldn't refuse.
The first thing I noticed as I walked into the gym was the smell of sweat as half a dozen muscular guys thrashed it out. There's nothing fancy about boxing.
I was so nervous, not because I was afraid of getting hurt, but because I knew I wouldn't be fit enough. I was thrown in at the deep end: a half-hour run, followed by 45 minutes of circuit training, then shadow boxing and a sparring session with one of the other girls. I held back at first because it felt weird hitting another woman, but pretty soon I was getting a thrill from landing a punch.
After the first session, I was so tired I fell asleep on the train home and missed my stop! For the next three days, I could barely move, my body ached so much.
But after doing two weekly two-hour sessions plus squash and running on four other nights, I was soon in the best shape I'd been in for years.
The sparring I've done in training can get vicious. Last week, one of the girls smacked me so hard I got a nosebleed. I came into work with a massive bruise the next day, but my colleagues didn't flinch - I've competed in polo matches for years and I'm always getting injured. That's why I had to pull out of the big fight night - I broke my collarbone falling off a horse.
What I love about boxing is that everyone's the same when they step in the ring. I don't have a clue what anyone else does for a job, I just know that we are all here for the same reason. And not only does it keep you fit, it does wonders for your confidence. Being able to hold your own in the ring makes you more assertive. I've sat in business meetings where someone has annoyed me and thought: 'If we were in a ring I'd polish you off.' But I just flash them a smile instead and keep my thoughts to myself!"

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