WHEN you think of women’s boxing in this country one name immediately springs to mind.
And that is Katie Taylor, who at this stage is a legend of the sport worldwide.
After that, you may be aware of Kellie Harrington and locally the name of Christina Desmond may come to mind. Recently, the name and success of Leanne Murphy from the Togher Boxing club has seen her stock rise and now there is another new kid on the block.
Or champion women boxer to be exact.
Nycole Hayes, 19, from Deerpark, is expected to be the next Cork boxer to make waves in 2019. The Togher BC star is expected to join her clubmate Murphy as one of the rising stars of the sport over the next 12 months.
Only in the sport for three years, but already, the 19-year-old is three times Irish champion, and recently became Winter Box cup champion in England.
Here she tells us how boxing is more than just a hobby of hers.
“Boxing has taught me so much in life,” said Hayes.
“What started out as a hobby and a way of keeping fit, has now become an obsession of something I thoroughly enjoy.
“Through boxing, I have matured a lot which has developed me as a person. I have learned discipline and dedication.
“I have made friends for life whether it’s through boxers in the club, opposition fighters, my coaches - this is definitely one of the key factors to my enjoyment however for me what I have learned most is that you’ll never get something you want if you don’t work hard for it.
“This is something I can take through life with me, long after my boxing days will end.
“The latest competition I was involved in was the England women’s winter box cup In Manchester.
“I loved this as I went over to gain experience and especially because it was a female box cup.
“I got a straight final and boxed an English girl. I knew it would be a tough fight getting into the ring as it was in her backyard.
“I gave her three counts, one in the first and two in the last, I was delighted to have won. Because I would be one of the oldest girls in the boxing club I feel as though there’s that bit of pressure on me because they look up to me, but that just makes me work harder.
“However, there are also younger girls that I inspire to. Girls that work so hard.
“Leanne Murphy is a very hard working girl, and it just goes to show as she won her bronze Europeans medal only recently, she puts so much time and effort into boxing, and that’s what I love to see.”
“I would recommend boxing to youngsters because personally, I find it very good for mental health and like all sports it is so good for clearing the mind.
“But there’s something different with boxing in my opinion, especially the atmosphere in Togher boxing club, it just feels like all your problems are left outside the minute you walk in that door.
“For me, that’s a huge motivation to keep at the sport. It’s where I feel most at ease. A lot of this is down to the great people at the club. I wouldn’t be anywhere I am today if it wasn’t for the amazing coaches in Togher boxing club.
“They put their whole life into this sport, each and every one of them means so much to me and play a big part in my life.
“My main coach would be Micky Olden who has been by my side and believed in me from day one. He’s like a father to me.”
This is expected to be a busy year for the dental nurse who hopes to continue developing as a boxer and making a step closer in reaching the European championships.
“For 2019 my aim is to gain more Irish titles. The U22s is in January, and these will be great preparation for my elite championship in February.
“I don’t know who I am against until we weigh in but that won’t bother me as we are both going for the same prize and it’s all down to the better boxer on the day, but also where all the hard work shows.
“These will both be held in the National Stadium in Dublin. The most important aim for me in 2019 is I hope to gain as much experience as I can.
“It’s my third year boxing and I know I still have many years ahead of me, but I feel like this is my year. At the moment I am training six days a week, some days it may be two sessions.
“This for me is tough as I work until 8 o’clock which would mean a run before work and then straight from work to do another session in the boxing club. It’s not easy but it’s the only way around it. I want the titles so the work has to be put in.
“I would try spar twice a week if it suits, but definitely once a week. I run three or four times a week and I get one rest day and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like most boxers, I live more for the moment and take every fight at a time.
“I would love to be in the Olympics at some stage but for now I’m enjoying and learning each fight at a time, and not jumping ahead of myself, but instead I am working hard and hopefully, I can achieve all that I set out to do.”