Sports student Courtney is a knockout
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Fighting-fit Courtney Clarke floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.
But it wasn’t always that way.
The 17-year-old UCB student, who is taking a Level 3 sport BTEC, has just taken part in her first women’s boxing bouts and has an unbeaten record of two straight wins.
Courtney turned to the punishing noble art as a young girl in a battle to shed weight.
Today, her ideal fighting class is middle heavyweight and she clocks 13 stone on the scales. It’s a far cry from the days when she weighed in at 19 stone as a 12-year-old super heavyweight.
“I’ve lost about six stone,” says Courtney, who smiles with supreme confidence. “I was bullied at school. Being 19 stone, you are the biggest target."
She says that one day “it just clicked that I was too big” and she started going to boxing training purely for the strict fitness regime rather than the combat. But she quickly fell in love with the physical discipline and technique of the sport.
“I didn’t want to miss a session, even when I was ill,” she said. “I did about six months and lost three or four stone.”
Courtney, who was training in Tamworth, where she lives, was asked if she fancied joining the town’s main boxing club and found herself donning gloves as a 14-year-old. She is now based at Nechells boxing club in Birmingham, where she trains once a week.
“I like the skill of boxing,” says Courtney. “Some people like to go out and fight people. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the fight, but I love the skill element."
She had her first fight at Bromford Social Club in Birmingham at the start of the boxing season in November. She fought in the open heavyweight class, taking on an opponent who was 25 kilos bigger and coming out on top at the end of three two-minute rounds.
Courtney says: “I loved it. It is the best thing I have ever done in my life. You get such a buzz out of it.
“People were screaming and cheering but you can’t hear any of the noise. All you hear is the bell going at the last round. When I won, I jumped three feet in the air.”
Courtney, a second-year student, beat the same opponent in a return match in December and is now hoping to progress in women’s boxing in the Midlands region.