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'I want a bold age, not an old age' - Taking up boxing at 77

Author and life coach Marianne Heron says she is surprised how her taking up boxing at the age o...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.10 28 Aug 2020


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'I want a bold age, not an old...

'I want a bold age, not an old age' - Taking up boxing at 77

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.10 28 Aug 2020


Share this article


Author and life coach Marianne Heron says she is surprised how her taking up boxing at the age of 77 has been reacted to.

She started with a one-on-one boxing session at a Dublin gym and hasn't looked back.

She also says older people need to be staying active, especially during lockdown or restrictions.

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She told The Hard Sholder the first thing that peaked her interest was curiosity.

"I spied this story about these amazing Zulu granny's who'd taken up boxing in a gym in Johannesburg, and were saying how young it made them feel.

"So I thought 'why not'.

"And then there's the whole way that the image of boxing has changed - thanks to people like Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington - it's part of the feminisation of sport.

"But there was another, more political reason: given the way that the effects of lockdown and cocooning, social isolation and lack of exercise is exactly what you don't want to do for people in my age group.

"This is getting especially important now given that the numbers in this age group - there's nearly coming on to 750,000 of us over-65 now, and in the next 30 years that's going to double.

"So you really want people to age well, and I thought it might be a good way of looking at that."

She said this can be done quite easily.

"I went one-on-one and I went along to Neil Bowman's gym in Blackrock.

"We did six sessions to get me started - to begin with, they will lend you the equipment.

"But it's a very accessible sport.

"You need your hand-bindings, you need your boxing gloves and those come in at under 50 when you're starting out".

"You can wear pretty well what you want - a tracksuit, tracksuit bottom, shorts, what have you - so very accessible".

"I'm really surprised by the level of reaction that there was to this story, which makes me think that it's very unusual for somebody to do this.

"And I worry, I'm concerned about what happens to people after retirement because of what I do.

"It seems to me that people are giving up doing things on account of their age.

"If you don't use it, you tend to lose it: I'm all in favour of having a bold age, rather than an old age".

'I want a bold age, not an old age' - Taking up boxing at 77

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She said her fitness regime is not particularly grueling.

"I garden a lot, but there's lots of things that gardening doesn't reach - as it were.

"I walk, yes, I don't like the golf culture... I realised how unfit I was once I started doing my boxing training, and it's made me vow to up my fitness levels.

"And it does give you a really full body workout."

"It's a long way off floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, as Mohammed Ali has said, that I am so far."

"These days, and especially in relation to women's boxing I think, we have moved away from that old prize fighting, knock-out image necessarily.

"But it's more about the skill and the stamina and the fitness.

"It does give you a really good mental workout too, because you've so much going on: you've got to have your chin in, you hands up, you've got to be dancing on your toes, and you've got to have this whole sequence of punches.

"And then that's only the beginning - you've got to learn the ring craft, how you deal with your opponent, you've got to learn the defensive moves - which is very important, that whole thing of rolling and swaying".

"People think it's about aggression: no, you can't do that really.

"If you get angry, if you lose it you will lose".

Main image: Picture by: Facebook/Marianne Elisabeth Heron

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