After a ten year boxing career, where she was ranked number 3 in the world, Cathy Brown is now one of London’s most in-demand coaches. She talks to us about her work fusing boxing with cognitive behavioural therapy, to empower women and children who have been raped by ISIS…
When did you first get into boxing?
I started kickboxing in 1992 (when I was 22), and fought for 6 years. Then in 1998 I became only the 2nd women to receive a professional boxing licence. I fought for 10 years winning the English and European title and becoming ranked number 3 in the World.
How does the sport make you feel?
There is such a powerful positive impact you get from boxing, physically and mentally. It gave me self-worth, self-esteem, and strong sense of belonging. It is hugely empowering. When I am having a bad day, once I have boxed, I feel calmer, have more mental clarity and feel stronger.
Why did you decide to teach?
I had experienced all of the amazing benefits of boxing and how it helped me through some extremely hard times, and still does to the is day. So, I wanted to share that with others. I get extreme satisfaction out of coaching, especially when I see the amazing positive effects it has on people, and that I have helped people become stronger both with physical and mental health. I gave up my career as a forensic photographer to coach and I will never look back, it is so rewarding. I teach 8 classes per week at Third Space.
Tell us about Boxology…
We created Boxology® because we wanted to coach personal trainers, sports coaches to be able to hold boxing pads effectively and safely. More and more people want to box, so they are asking their trainers/coaches to hold pads for them during their sessions. It gives trainers an added skill to their box of attributes they can offer to their clients (the courses are ActiveIQ and CIMSPA endorsed, so they get CPD points). We wanted them to understand the beautiful art of boxing, so not only do we offer two day courses, we have books on amazon, which cover anatomy/physiology, coaching skills and strengthening work plus apps on IOS and ANDROID, to show how to box in video format.
What are some of your frustrations with the fitness industry?
Everyone is looking for the ‘NEW’ thing, the ‘miracle workout’ and the ‘miracle diet’. So, naturally industry people are capitalising on this. The frustration I have with this, is that the statement “A little information, can be a dangerous thing”, is very true. For example; HIIT training is great BUT if that is all you do, day in day out then you will get injured, run your adrenals into the ground and over train, which can have detrimental long term effects. But, some people in the fitness industry are pushing it so hard as to it’s the only way; they are not selling to people that they also need to do controlled strength and conditioning/rest days/vary their training. I have been in the fitness industry for over 26 years, and I can see the negative effects it is having on people. It’s the same with ‘diets’, the best diet is a ‘balanced’ diet, which is a long term ‘lifestyle’ choice, yes the results may take longer, but they will sustain for longer too.
Tell more about your work with Boxing Sisters…
I was approached by a charity run by Taban Shoresh, who is an amazing woman. The Lotus Flower charity raises money direct to fund safe house for women and children in the Rwanga refugee camp. The Rwanga refugee camp is in the Kurdistan region and home to almost 3,000 Yazidi families (approximately 15,000 people) who had to flee for their lives when ISIS attacked their hometown in August 2014. I am going there to work with the children and women who have been raped by ISIS; there are so many heart breaking stories, some girls (between 7 and 10) have been sold many times to ISIS for sex and endured abuse that is unimaginable. All the children and women have been left with devastation mentally and physically, and I am hoping the power of boxing will be able to help them open up about their ordeals, get them to feel physically and mentally stronger and become confident again then using my CBT experience talk to them to help them create a coping mechanism. I am hoping to raise 40k so that we can keep a safe house open, where they will have a secure place to feel protected and that they belong.You can donate here.
You’re also a CBT & Life Therapist? tell us more…
After being told I needed to retire from boxing, earlier than I wanted, I hit depression as I had relied on boxing for so long for mental strength. I didn’t like who I was becoming, I was getting angry all of the time, which was the reason I got into boxing. I needed to do something, I studied sports psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy to be able to understand myself more so that I could help myself become stronger in a different way. Boxing mixed with CBT was proving to be even more powerful, and I found I could help clients even more who were going through bad times. After getting to know myself more, I know that being adopted made me feel like I didn’t belong and coaching boxing alongside helping people using therapy, made me feel I was doing something great and gave me an inner confidence that I was worthy to be here.
Can you describe a typical day?
Hmm that’s difficult, as each day is different, I generally train 6 clients and 2 classes per day, then go home and work on developing Boxology®. Some days I take time out to do motivational talks within companies, then go back to work. At weekends, I either run Boxology® courses or every 2/3 weeks I go back up to Newcastle to sit with my mum for the weekend (she is in late stages of dementia, so can’t talk or walk and doesn’t know who I am). Then in between all of that I work on Boxing Sisters.
What are 3 things you wish you could tell your younger self?
1. Don’t conform to what others want you to be, be honest, be real and always be YOU!
2. Times will get really hard, but always know, they will pass and you will come out of the other side stronger. No matter how hard things get, keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if its baby steps; keep moving forward.
3. You are worthy.
You can do this!