In need of some inspiration? Amy Andrew turned her back on a career in journalism to pursue her love of boxing. She now teaches at leading studios across London including BLOK, Kobox and Sweat by BXR – all while competing in actual fights! We talk to her about starting from scratch again at the age of 30 to turn her dream into a reality…
How did your boxing love affair start?
I signed up to a white collar charity bout a couple of years ago on a whim. I knew nothing about boxing outside of what I’d picked up from Million Dollar Baby – and was hooked straight away. For me, the technique aspect of boxing is addictive. There is always more to learn and ways to improve on what you are already doing right.
While I understand that the actual getting-in-the-ring part of boxing is not for everyone, having a fight looming on the horizon gave me a reason to get up and go to the gym in the morning. The rest – weight loss and fitness – fell into place because, after I fell in love with boxing, I started training more regularly. Now I box at amateur level. Even for people that don’t want to fight, boxing fitness is great because it is fun. You are learning a skill at the same time as getting into shape.
Do you have a defining moment where you knew that you wanted to leave your job and make boxing your new career?
Not really. I was a journalist for nearly 10 years and had been thinking about a career change for a little while. After leaving my journalist job I briefly worked at Sport England, doing PR for their brilliant This Girl Can campaign, which was a great experience but not what I really wanted to do, which was work in fitness.
It was difficult to make the move away from a steady salary and I had a sense of guilt because a career change felt to me like I was wasting the ten years I had put into journalism. Plus, I was worried about disappointing my family in starting from scratch again at the age of 30!
But, quite quickly I decided that if I didn’t make the leap, then I would be wasting precious time thinking about something I wanted to do, rather than actually getting on with doing it, and progressing in my new career to the point I wanted to be at. So I just up and quit my job! Very scary!
Training and teaching must take it’s toll on your body and energy levels. How do you fuel your body?
Sh*t loads of fruit and vegetables. I find that I easily burn out as I’m constantly either working or training. I try to fit in seeing friends as much as possible as well. If I don’t stick to a diet with lots of fruit and veg and lots of nutrients I usually get ill. I’m a vegan so I’m always on a quest for new and interesting plant-based dishes!
Do you drink alcohol? If so, what is your favourite tipple of choice? If not, did you ever and has your career change had an effect on this?
Yep, for sure! I love wine – my family are HUGE enthusiasts. My mum is from New Zealand and we spend a lot of time wine tasting when we visit! I also LOVE whisky and Prosecco.
My alcohol consumption has changed radically since I took up boxing. Obviously as a boxer I need to watch my weight, so hangovers aren’t ideal as I tend to eat everything I can find! Plus it’s hard to train as intensely.
Before I took up boxing I also socialised a lot. But now I need to look after my immune system and stay healthy, so late nights aren’t great. Saying that, I’m very much of the opinion that a cheeky glass of wine here and there can’t hurt!
What would you say to someone who is new to boxing and interested to get started?
Do it! Don’t be intimidated by boxing – it’s lots of fun. There are all kinds of boxing opportunities – from boutique fitness classes to spit-and-sawdust amateur gyms, plus instructors all offer something different too – even those from the same gym.
Try a couple out and find the right fit for you. Whether that be a fun-time class with music and bright lights, like KOBOX, or something more authentic – such as recreational sessions at Islington Boxing Club or Rooney’s. You might even fall in love with boxing by signing up to a white collar fight, like I did! Once you find the right class for you, you’ll be hooked, I promise.
Tell us about your first fight?
It was terrifying! I had only put on gloves for the first time eight weeks before but I trained really hard for it. The girl I fought was quite a bit heavier than me as there weren’t a lot of other girls that wanted to fight so I was quite nervous – I even had a bit of a cry before I went in the ring!
Once I jumped through the ropes, though, I had a ball. It was by far the best thing I had ever done – a total rush. All my family and mates came to watch and they were shouting me on – it was wicked! It was in York Hall, the Mecca of British boxing, so it was humbling to think of all the big names in boxing that had stepped into that very ring before me.
In terms of the actual fight, it all passed in a bit of a blur. It was very hot and the lights were bright – all I could hear was the crowd shouting their heads off – and occasionally a bit of light abuse from the other girl’s supporters!
I felt very self-conscious at first, but anything I’d learnt about boxing running up to the fight went out the window and I turned into an aggressive ball of energy, swinging wildly! When my hand was raised at the end I thought I would burst, I was so happy.
I have only had 12 fights to date, including white collar, and I still get very nervous. Managing my emotions leading up to a fight is the toughest part for me, though. Usually when I’m emotional I eat more – but I have to be strict about food what with it being a weight sport, so I can be a bit of an emotional nightmare during the week or two leading up to a bout!
7. Where can we find you teaching classes in London?
All over! I’m primarily at KOBOX – in the City and Chelsea, which I love, as there are a great bunch of people working there. I’m also teaching classes at Sweat by BXR and BLOK, in East London, and coach at my boxing club, Islington Boxing Club. I have a couple of wonderful clients who have been with me from the very beginning from MXT Fitness. So I’m a busy girl! Come find me!
Do you miss your journalism career at all?
I loved being a journalist and worked with some brilliant and inspiring people at the Mail Online. As much as I enjoyed it, though, I feel such a passion for teaching boxing, and I’m in love with the sport. It’s great to be able to work in that environment and hopefully pass on of my enthusiasm on to others!
What’s on your ‘to-do’ list for 2017?
To win some more fights! I was out for a month or so with an injury so now I’m raring to go! I am also working towards my Level 2 England Boxing coaching certificate. There’s not too many women that have it still. Work-wise I want to keep growing and learning. Eventually, one day, I would like to open my own gym.
What were your friends reactions to leaving your desk job?
My friends have all been very supportive. It’s tough because I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, as my working and training hours are pretty antisocial – lots of evenings, weekends and early mornings.
It’s hard to focus on every part of your life at once and I’m very lucky to have such wonderful and patient friends. My family and boyfriend have been a rock for me, though. They’ve been very understanding and hugely proud and supportive, which has made things a lot easier.
Favourite healthy restaurant in London?
Oh God; so many! I’m always thinking about my next meal and love trying different places.
I guess Arabica – a Lebanese restaurant – in Borough Market tops my list because of the wonderful hummus and great vibes.
Tanya’s in Kensington is a real treat and their food is delicious- but I always leave hungry… I need bigger plates! My favourite of all, though, is Cookdaily, an aggressive-looking vegan lunch-bowl cafe in boxpark Shoreditch that serves the kind of food that makes you sad as soon as you start tucking in, because you know every mouthwatering spoonful takes you closer to the end of your meal!