Female membership thriving at Sheffield City

May 9, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Sheffield City Boxing Club’s female engagement is going from strength to strength – with the help of the ‘Punch Like A Girl’ project.

Held for the first time at the Hunslet Club in Leeds in 2019, the initiative – funded by the Yorkshire Sport Foundation – saw several women from across the region attend a female-only England Boxing Level One Coaching Course.

Among those to successfully secure their qualifications was Sophie Harrison, who has since begun to assist with the coaching at Sheffield City’s female-only sessions twice a week.

“I wasn’t originally sold on the idea of a female only course, but once I attended, I realised it provided a platform for so many women to find their voices,” she said.

“Amanda (Groarke) and the other coach educators created a safe and comfortable learning environment for us all to build the confidence to lead. It was actually really great to see an entire room filled with women all starting their boxing coaching journeys!”

Attending this course kickstarted a lot for me…straight away I was able to assist the already existing female-only Thursday session at Sheffield City ABC, as well as start up a second one on a Tuesday.

“Off the back of this, I felt more confident as a coach and I was employed by the Brendan Ingle Foundation and since then I have taken on a full-time role working for an organisation called Fight For Good as Boxing Project Coordinator.”

Nationally, prior to lockdown, similar Punch Like a Girl courses had begun to be rolled out in other parts of the country.

Sophie, meanwhile, has continued to lead her club’s female-only sessions, delivering them in a Covid-secure outdoor space since last March.

She added: “Over the last couple of years, Sheffield City has seen the female attendee numbers only climb, and we see the confidence build up in the women too. Some females cross over to the mixed sessions too, which is great to see.

“The pandemic has had a massive effect on the club, with it being unable to open its doors for periods when a full lockdown has been in operation.

“However, the demand never went away and Brendan was super-resourceful in putting together a Covid-secure sheltered outside space.

“Now we are back in full swing and seeing really strong numbers of women attending each week. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to get the second female-only session up and running again!”

Once restrictions are lifted, the club is looking forward to another female coach taking up her place a Level One course, which was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Sharrow-based gym is also encouraging more female boxers to become Level One Coaches and, eventually, for some to qualify as Level Two coaches.

Founder and Head Coach Brendan Warburton said: “The sessions have been really well attended with around 20 females attending every week. We have also had an increase in females attending our other boxing sessions.

“Being passionate about our sport, I want to make boxing training accessible to as many people as possible – not just to the people who want to compete, but also to the people who want to get the many benefits that boxing training can provide without getting in a ring.”

“Our female membership is around 30 per cent and I would like this to keep growing. I see having female-only sessions that are delivered by an all-female coaching team as a crucial part to that.

“I will certainly keep helping and developing our female coaches to achieve this and, in the long term, I’m hopeful we could also have female coaches that could take on a lead role in developing a female-only competitive boxers’ session.”

For more information on Sheffield City Boxing Club, go to the website by clicking here.