Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! Dynamite does really come in small packages.
Words by Kylie Quinn
Cathy walks across the gym floor and gives us all a huge smile. I’ve never met a boxer before, but I’ve always thought they’d fall into the stern faced, tough-cookie box. As Cathy starts telling us about how she almost had a panic attack while getting her eyelashes tinted, I realise she’s not your average boxer. She’s pretty, petite and ever so polite. The alias of Cathy “The Bitch" Brown hardly seems appropriate, but then again I haven’t seen her punch someone’s lights out.
Having retired from professional boxing, she is now a personal trainer at The Third Space, which is more like Seventh Heaven for gym fundies. From Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Ozone treated pools, an in-house Acupuncturist and (my favourite) courtesy fresh fluffy white towels, this place is impressive.
We’ve all been kitted out with latest Lonsdale gear, so even though we have no idea what we’re doing, we look like pros, which must count for something. Once inside the boxing ring I can’t help bouncing off the ropes a couple of times (just to see how it feels). OK, time to get serious.
Cathy shows us some basic punches and techniques and after a 2-hour session of punching, ducking and some serious cardio we’re sweating our bums off. Not only is it a great all-round body workout but super stress relief. You can really channel all that negative energy. Visualising, for example, your mother-in-law, ex-boyfriend or that person who bullied you at school while doing jabs and upper cuts really releases anger you may not have known you had.
After the class I managed to ask Cathy a few questions.
What inspired you to leave Forensic Photography and become a professional Boxer?
I thought that if I wanted to do boxing, I’d have to give 100%. Working as a Forensic Photographer and being on call all the time was proving to be really difficult. I tried it for a while but I wanted to dedicate more time to my training. So I decided to give up my job. You only really get one chance in life, so when you get an opportunity you have to take it!
So, no looking back?
Definitely not. I did Forensics for about 7 years and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. But boxing opened a whole new world for me, I’ve met so many great people, done so many great things. I've experienced things in life I would never have if I’d stuck with doing photography.
Have you ever had to use your boxing skills outside the ring in a self-defence situation?
Only mentally, by being strong and keeping calm in a situation. In boxing you’re taught to keep really calm and I can also use that if I’m confronted with something outside the ring. But I never had to use physical violence.
Is there any way you can describe what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a K.O?
No, I’ve never been knocked out (laughs). I’ve never gone down. But I’ve been out off my feet, I’ve been hit hard and I've also been hurt quite badly. It’s quite disillusioning, but you get the mental strength to say to yourself "OK, I’ve just been hit really hard, I’m seeing white lights and I’m not feeling too good, but I’ve stood back up on my feet." It’s about knowing where you are and keeping it together.
But you’ve given a few knock out punches yourself?
(Smiles hugely) Yeah, I have. I’ve knocked out about 14 people (laughs). It feels good.
What music gets you fired up before a fight?
Hip Hop and R&B, sort of "does a tiger impression" music.
So no rock'n'roll, heavy metal stuff?
No, I’m not really a rock chick. I’ve always liked the sort of Hip Hop, Lil’ Kim, female rap stuff.
Some boxing lessons to warm up for the interview...
Is it hard to meet men who are not intimidated by your strength?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve been with someone for a while now, but it was really difficult to find him. I’m quite strong in everything that I do and I can fight as well. I've asked a couple of guys out in my time but they laughed at me, going “I just don’t think I’ll be able to handle you Cathy." They think you’re gonna punch them. I’ve never ever hit or used any physical force against any of my boyfriends, but a lot of guys have this perception that you’d be quite handy. They have this whole joke about if I’d come home and the washing up wasn’t done that I’d give them a good lamping (laughs). Of course I’d tell them off but I would never ever use physical violence.
When you were competing, what was your relationship like with the other competitors? Did you use to work each other up quite a lot, like the men do?
I’m a good sports woman, I always went up and shook the hand of my competitors. Outside the ring I used to be really polite. But as soon as you get in the ring it’s a different story, then basically you’re fighting them, you’re trying to hurt them and to knock them out. I think that's why I got my name “The Bitch". They tried to make me throw water in someone’s face once though and I refused to do it, it was out of character.
You’ve sailed across the Atlantic, so you must have an affinity towards the ocean. Have you ever tried surfing?
No, I’d love to though…absolutely (smiles).
Do you think your boxing strength would help you in the water?
Yeah, it’s just getting that core nice and strong I think. I’d absolutely love to surf.
Isobel at Brand Nation and Lonsdale