Girls! Come and join our fight club

FARAH JAMIL may have trained for a year before her first fight, but she is still ready for the hard slog to become one of Scotland's next Commonwealth boxing stars.

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Scottish featherweight champion Farah Jamil and Pauline MacDonald of Bellahouston Amateur Boxing Club have started a      Tuesday night training session for women. Picture: Martin Shields
Scottish featherweight champion Farah Jamil and Pauline MacDonald of Bellahouston Amateur Boxing Club have started a Tuesday night training session for women. Picture: Martin Shields

The 25-year-old from Pollokshields hopes to represent her country in four years time when the sporting spectacular hits the Gold Coast.

Despite only taking up boxing a year ago, Farah already holds the Scottish featherweight title and has her eye on turning professional in the future.

Farah said: "I trained for a year for the Scottish title fight.

"I knew I had it in me and I could do it. I believed in myself and the coaches believed in me too.

"I had another fight two weeks after that in Fife, and I won that as well. I never imagined this could happen."

As a child, Farah was always a bit of a tomboy, and enjoyed playing football and judo.

When she told her family she wanted to become a boxer, their initial response was "girls don't do that", but Farah followed her passion and now, she says, her family is much more supportive.

"My family were really worried about it." explained Farah.

"My dad thought I should go for it and knew I could defend myself, but my mum and my gran didn't want me to do it.

"They said it wasn't good for girls.

"Mum came to watch me fighting for the Scottish title, and she can now see how happy I am and how good I am at it, so I think she's getting used to it now."

Having volunteered as a security guard during Glasgow's Commonwealth games, the 25-year-old is desperate to get back in the ring.

She and fellow club member Pauline MacDonald were lucky enough to be invited to train with Boxing Scotland, the sport's official governing body, and completed their first session last week.

Pauline, 30, also took up the sport a year ago and said the changes in her physical and mental health have been incredible.

"I first started doing it for fitness but I've always had that challenging side to me." she said.

"Once I got into it I wanted to take it further and fight.

I'M quite a healthy person so I also do it just to keep my body in shape as well, and it's great for your mental health too."

To encourage more women into the sport, they have started a women's training session at the Bellahouston Club every Tuesday night.

Now they have another five women who they regularly train with, and are hoping the number will continue to grow.

They are two of only 89 registered female boxers in Scotland, a figure which has increased more than 600% in the last three years.

However, the small numbers and lack of funding mean there is still not enough competing opportunities for women.

Richard Thomas, the chairman of Boxing Scotland, is keen to attract more women into the sport with the hope of entering Scottish female boxers into the next Commonwealth Games.

Richard said: " I'm absolutely sure we will have females at the Gold Coast.

"The last four years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of women boxers in Scotland, although the numbers are very small.

EVEN now, though the increase is impressive, it's just not enough to create this critical momentum and the competition we need.

"Farah boxed in the Scottish final in front of 3000 people and it was only her second bout. That's incredible but we need to focus on getting people more experience, and if there are not enough opponents, and this would be the same for any age group or gender, you don't get enough competitive opportunity.

"All the training and sparring is excellent - but boxers need to box."

The organisation is now trying to encourage younger people to take up boxing, focusing on those aged 10 and above.

Richard added: "We want to get everybody involved but we are also absolutely focused now on attracting the 10-14 age group.

"We will be running with fairly limited funding but we will be running initiatives with younger girls."

The boxing boss said events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics are crucial for getting youngsters interested in sport.

The London Olympics were the first to showcase women's boxing, with Team GB's Nicola Adams and Ireland's Katie Taylor both securing gold medals in their categories.

Farah was inspired to take up the sport after watching the 2012 bouts on television, and she hopes many more Glasgow youngsters will follow in her footsteps now the Commonwealth Games have ended.

For more information on boxing, visit www.boxingscotland.co.uk and for details or to get involved at Bellahouston Amateur Boxing Club, visit www.facebook.com/BellahoustonAmateurBoxingClub.

hannah.rodger@eveningtimes.co.uk

Sport

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