Good Causes

LGBT-friendly boxing class puts Natalie in fighting form

Natalie Deans says boxing has changed her life, and when you hear her amazing story it’s easy to understand why. Just 12 months after joining an LGBT-friendly boxing class at a gym in Glasgow, she had shed almost 25 kilos and was punching her way to a silver medal at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris.

Natalie, 30, said, “Learning to box has been an amazing experience. My confidence has really grown because you feel in control of your body – you’re constantly doing technical drills and you have all this muscle memory that’s building up. It’s an emotional, physical and mental shift that feels fantastic.”

Natalie pulled on boxing gloves for the first time in May 2017 when she joined the LGBT-friendly Legit Boxing Team at the Edge Gym in Glasgow’s West End. Funding from The National Lottery has helped the pioneering group buy new equipment and extend its reach by offering free sessions to people unable to afford the regular fee.

The Legit Boxing Team was set up to break down some of the stereotypes surrounding boxing clubs and encourage members of the LGBT community to get involved.

Natalie said, “Walking into a boxing gym can be an intimidating experience - the sight of a group of massive, sweaty guys can be terrifying. The fact is everyone at the Edge Gym is lovely, but a lot of people who have joined the Legit Boxing Team say they wouldn’t have had the confidence to attend a regular boxing session.”

For Natalie, boxing quickly became an essential part of her life. As well as the Legit sessions on Saturdays, she now attends 4 or 5 other boxing classes at the Edge Gym each week.

What does she love about the sport? She said, “You get a weird sense of calm and control despite the fact someone is throwing punches at your face and you’re trying to dodge them.”

Natalie’s prowess in the ring saw her fight in the Scottish Novice Championships in Motherwell in November 2019. She was beaten in the final, but it is easy to imagine her star will continue to rise once competitions resume.

How would she encourage other people in the LGBT community to get in the ring? She said, “I would say ‘face your fears and give it a shot’. Boxing is a huge part of my life and everyone at the gym is like family.”

23rd June 2021

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