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White Collar Boxing - Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Updated on November 25, 2017

Welcome to my 10 week diary of white collar boxing training, squeezed into 1 blog. :)

Week 1 – Sheer hell. Well…The first few weeks in general were hell, and that was purely cardio. It killed us all. The City of Belfast Boxing Academy is in an old primary school; turning it into a gym is what I call entrepreneurial skills at its best! Every part of that old school was used for our training. For our first session, we had to run laps round the entire building, which included climbing over old stair banisters and through corridors. I think we sprinted for literally an hour straight during one session.

Weeks 2-3 - I'll never look at a deck of cards in the same way again after playing our trainer Terry's version. Every suit in the deck represented a different exercise, i.e. Spades were Burpees - 11 of Spades meant 11 Burpees, 8 of Hearts = 8 press-ups.. you get the jist.

The PwC white collar boxers 2017
The PwC white collar boxers 2017

Getting hit for the first time - and multiple times

Week 4 - The first time getting punched - and it was by Terry. Now Terry is an old amateur fighter in both martial arts and boxing. He's like a big bald gorilla - kind of reminds me of the coach from that movie Dodgeball (dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!) - Real tough love sort of guy (although it's not tough to love him; a big softie really)

I've never been hit before - just not that type of girl. But I kept telling myself that it wouldn't be as bad as everyone makes it out to be...

I was wrong. Terry punched us all three times each in the core, and in the head (we were wearing head guards, although they didn't help much - watching everyone else get punched I was certain they had whiplash from their necks snapping back). A few weeks later Terry then proceeded to whack us all individually in the abdomens with a (not very) padded baseball bat while we lifted a weight, which was meant to help us "take a body shot while maintaining our breathing". I have to admit - this brought tears to my eyes. But the negative reinforcement work. More than 50 people started the boxing; less than half remained after the first few weeks of taking these brutal hits - both to our bodies and to our self-esteem.

Did I mention I put my head guard on back to front in week 4?!?!?!

Award for the blondest fighter goes to....
Award for the blondest fighter goes to....

Sparring & Stress

Weeks 5-6 - I got stress headaches every time I stepped into the ring to spar - which didn't help when I was then getting hit repeatedly in the face on top of it all. The headaches didn't stop until around week 7 or 8. In all honesty I wasn't stressed out about getting hurt - I was overthinking everything; worrying that I wouldn't do well or that my reflexes weren't fast enough. I used to see getting hit at all as letting in a goal (best metaphor I can think of right now) but it isn't. You have to get hit sometimes, to get your own hit in, and you have to always think about the next punch that's coming, not the one that just got you. Contrary to what the majority of people think, boxing isn’t about being aggressive at all. It’s about being calm and focused, but more than anything, relaxed; which is what I wasn’t for ages. As stupid as it sounds, I stopped thinking and relaxed one day, and the headaches went away! I could actually box.


Finally getting the hang of things - apart from in the bottom left corner! Ouch
Finally getting the hang of things - apart from in the bottom left corner! Ouch

Katie Taylor who?!?!

OK, so maybe my champion belt was from a lucky bag.....
OK, so maybe my champion belt was from a lucky bag.....

Blood Sweat & Tears

... Quite literally

My first ever black eye...

Week 7 - Pretty positive everyone had some sort of mental breakdown at some point during the 10 weeks. Mine came mid-week 7. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I was still working 9-5 every day (sometimes longer), training 3 times a week for hours on end with the boxing club, and attempting to train a further 2 times a week on my own. I just came home from club training one night and burst into tears. Quitting was never an option though, not even then.

Week 9 - I received the first black eye and bloody nose I've ever had in my life exactly a week before the fight. Myself and another girl went six rounds sparring. Six. You only do three on the night - but because I got through those six that's how I knew I was ready. Terry literally ironed out my black eye the next morning with an ice cold piece of metal. Not gonna lie - I thought I was the coolest person ever. Boxer's black eye?! Sure I'll be the next Katie Taylor now...

Trying to look like proper boxers here.. I'm trying to show off the black eye as much as possible!

My boyfriend was also training for his own white collar fight at the time (unrelated to mine)
My boyfriend was also training for his own white collar fight at the time (unrelated to mine)


Week 10 – Fight night. I know reading back over this all, it sounds like absolute hell. But honestly, every last second was, and is still worth it. I know none of us are professional boxers, or even amateurs, but as anyone who has done it before will tell you, it’s such an amazing achievement. We collectively raised £15,000 for Barnardo’s children’s charity, and as much of an absolute cheesy cliché it is, it was such a journey for all of us. The respect I have for actual boxers now is beyond belief, but it is definitely a sport I would recommend to anyone (I’ve lost a stone in 10 weeks!) and I would advise everyone to do a white collar fight once in their lifetime for a feeling of absolute accomplishment.

Niamh 'Khaleesi' Campbell


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