Roughing it up at the ABAs
Two fights in one day would leave some amateur boxers flat on the canvas with a face resembling the rear end of a London bus – but not these women from All Stars Boxing Club. Lesley Sackey and Zaneta Sierpinska both clinched ABA titles in
By Jonny Weeks
Two fights in one day would leave some amateur boxers flat on the canvas with a face resembling the rear end of a London bus - but not these women from All Stars Boxing Club.
Lesley Sackey and Zaneta Sierpinska both clinched ABA titles in their respective weight categories at the National Championships in Hendon last month.
Sackey cruised through her 70kg semi-final in the morning and then fought on with a bloody nose in the afternoon final, while Sierpinska had to gorge on sandwiches just to tip the scales for the 63kg semis.
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What is more, neither had won a regulated fight prior to the championships.
Sackey said of her victory in the final against Kelly Morgan: "I'm a bit precious about my nose, so when I got hit with a lucky jab in the second round and started bleeding, I really let her have it.
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"She was a tough girl, which you'd expect being from the Navy. She was very strong and a bit taller than me. But like most fighters I think she struggled with the fact that I'm southpaw.
"I knew I had come back strongly, so I thought the decision would go my way. But you never quite know with boxing - it's a funny sport."
Sackey's win in the semi-final had been much more clear-cut. She gave her opponent such a pummelling that the referee ended the contest in the second round after three standing counts.
"I caught her in the face quite a lot with my left. I'm trying not to make it sound nasty, but it was a little," she said.
Sierpinska, meanwhile, who comes from Poland, endured a more turbulent route to the finals.
She had been expecting to fight in the 60kg class, but had mistakenly been entered into the 63kg class.
"I had to go out and fill my belly with sandwiches and juice," she said. "I was so full when I got to the weigh in it made it quite a stressful start.
"But my opponent wasn't the best. She was like most girls - she just tried to punch and punch in the first round until she had run out of fuel."
Sierpinska won the semi on points, and then beat Gemma Hampson in the final on points.
"I was a bit surprised to win the final because I thought at the time that it was 50-50," she said.
"But when I watched the tape back, I felt I showed a greater range of shots."
For both girls the schedule of two fights in one day proved a difficult challenge.
"It's tough physically and also mentally because you have all that adrenalin as you're waiting for the next fight," said Sackey, who began boxing 18 months ago after joining an exercise class at the All Stars club in Harrow Road.
"They wouldn't allow two fights in one day in my home country," added Sierpinska, who began boxing three years ago just before moving to London to study law.
With just three fights and no wins between them prior to the ABAs, they could hardly have expected to perform so well. But, as Sackey puts it, boxing can be perfectly simple.
"The object is to hit and not be hit. If you can do that with power and technique, you can win.