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"You Can't Fight Because You're Too Pretty"

Thursday, 08 March 2018

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day and the achievements and successes of women all over the world — both political and social.

We have dedicated our Women’s Day post to Cathy Brown, an ex-international boxer who continues to inspire the next generation of women to get into the ring and fight for titles as well as equality.

European Flyweight champion and once ranked 3rd in the world, Cathy is now following a different career path of personal training at Third Space Gymand is a fully qualified cognitive behavioural therapist and sports psychologist.

After a seven-year long career as a Forensic Photographer, Cathy gave up everything to pursue her dream.

In order to fully understand Cathy’s battle, remember that up until the mid-90s it was illegal for women to professionally fight each other and remarkably, women’s boxing was not shown on the BBC until 2010, despite men being idolised within the sport for decades prior to this.

Biscuit invited Cathy for an interview to discuss her achievements and experience as a boxer…

How has your experience as a woman shaped your career?”

When I was younger I was in an abusive relationship, I was raped and abused over a two year period when I was 16.

I was adamant that nobody was ever going to bully me like that again, and it was this experience that inspired me to take up boxing. It’s not that boxing gives you the tools to knock someone out, it’s more to do with the sense of belonging and self-worth that it instils in you.

Throughout my career, I have been fighting a battle with sexism to get into the ring. Men would tell me “you can’t fight because you’re too pretty”, and I would often get told “we don’t allow women in this gym, you can’t train here”.

Early in my career, I had to negotiate ways into the ring by beating down barriers and negotiating financial deals with promoters. Promoters would question the sporting ability of women and whether or not the public would want to watch women fight, so I had to make deals with small promotors to sell enough tickets to cover my opponents cost.

No companies would sponsor me because I am a woman, so I worked full time to fund myself. People often ask why, as a woman, I enjoy fighting. The heart of a fighter is the same whether you are a man or woman, my physical appearance doesn’t change that.

“Who is your biggest female inspiration?”

I intensely admire any woman who has become successful against all odds. Professional sport continues to be a hard battle for all women. We still have a long way to go before we are all treated as equals.

“What drives you each day?”

My sporting motto is never give up. I have the will and determination to succeed and to make things the best I can. I’m very OCD and meticulous about everything, and I never do anything half-heartedly. I absolutely put my all into every task I take on.

Boxing gives me inner strength, both domestically and in sport. It also helps overcome the personal and professional challenges we face each day.

What is your advice to young women looking to pursue a career in a male-dominated sport?

The boxing world still remains overprotective with its status as a man’s sport. There isn’t much incentive for women to turn professional as it’s extremely hard work and it’s a battle from outside of the ring to get into the ring.

One of the best pieces of advice I could give would be never to expect anything from anyone, rely on yourself to get you places. Don’t give up and always follow your dream, work on taking negative things and turning them into positives.

Not only is Cathy breaking ground in the boxing world, she is also successfully venturing into the business world and has just created her new app, Boxology. In their latest issue, Courier Magazine celebrates female founders such as Cathy and the challenges faced by women in business. A challenge which is very familiar to Biscuit’s founder, Frances Li. Frances decided to go it alone and start her own recruitment business specialising in first class office support staff and has been leading by example in the field ever since.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”.

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