Proving that women can punch well above their weight

Rachel Bower.
Rachel Bower.
  • Wakefield-born Rachel Bower is a champion boxer. James Cann and Julie Marshall spoke to her.
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With her long curly hair and her slight, feminine build it’s hard to imagine Rachel Bower in a boxing ring. But the 32-year-old from Walton, near Wakefield, has just become national Elite Champion Female Boxer at 54kg and consequently will represent England in the Three Nations squad in Rotherham this weekend.

Rachel proved too strong for opponent Jenna O’Reilly and recorded a technical knockout victory in the fourth round of their final.

Rachel, a serving police officer with the Met in London, came late to boxing: “I have always been a bit of a tomboy, climbing trees, building dens and going out and getting into trouble with my mates,” she says.

“I represented my school at everything going and Wakefield at cross country level and surprised everyone by doing really well at New College Pontefract and gaining four A-Levels at Grade A, which no one really expected.

“I never thought about boxing though, I never considered boxing or had any interest in it.

After school she went to Bournemouth University to study public relations and after graduating moved to London to join the police. “After I joined the police force someone suggested that I give boxing a go and I entered this big police tournament.

“I ended up winning by a walkover because there was only one other girl at my weight and she pulled out at the last minute. “So my first fight was representing the police against the RAF, having never boxed in a match before.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been picked to represent my country,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to taking this opportunity to progress to the next level and seeing how far I can push myself.

“Boxing internationally is what I have been working towards for years so I’m glad all my hard work has paid off.

“Winning the English title was such a proud moment, The championships were held in the Echo Arena in Liverpool and, for the first time in history, at the same time as the men’s.”

Rachel competed in the 2011 World Police and Fire Games in New York and came home with a silver medal. “I ended up boxing above my weight category which,in hindsight I’m not very pleased about.

“In the final I ended up boxing my teammate and room mate Hayley Webb and she was boxing for England at the time so she was at a very high standard.

This year the 2015 games are being held in Fairfax, West Virginia and Rachel is hoping for a gold medal. “I’m really looking forward to the games in June, It’s a big event; all the police forces, fires services and prison services enter it and it’s great to be part of it.”

After the 2011 games Rachel considered hanging up her gloves and studied for a coaching qualification.

But in 2014 she moved offices and found herself 10 minutes away from Fitzroy Lodge in Lambeth, a famous old club that has been teaching people to box since 1908; it was frequented by world champion David Haye when he was an amateur. She began training with them and now competes for them.

She will join Jenna O’Reilly in the Three Nations event with the semi-finals getting underway at 11am on Saturday and the finals at the same time on Sunday.

Rachel is keen to spread the word among young girls that boxing is a sport they can enjoy and do well at and wishes she had discovered boxing at a much early age.

“I spar against young girls and it’s not until they start talking about school that I realise I’m old enough to be their mum, she says. “ I just wish that I’d discovered boxing when I was their age and I think about how far I could have gone by now.”