Three North Dorset ladies, three national champions

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In a month which saw the national ladies football team conquer Europe, three North Dorset women are quietly attaining GB success, says Rachael Rowe

We’ve all enjoyed watching the Lionesses win the European Football Championships this summer. Even more impressive than their skill on the field has been their legacy beyond the trophy. They are inspiring girls and women to get involved in the sport – and loudly paying tribute to all those women who inspired and led the way, enabling their success.
Right here in North Dorset, quietly working hard the way women footballers have for years, are some trailblazing women who are also achieving national and international success, paving the way for more girls to follow in what are traditionally male sports.

Kate Davey and her partner Shaun Backburn, who both earned title belts at the British Open

Kate Davey
Okeford Fitzpaine-based Kate Davey is the 2022 World Karate & Kickboxing Union (WKU) British Open Champion in the 70kg and 65kg kickboxing classes. Her success has led to a call-up to the WKU England squad for the world championships in Cardiff this autumn.
So how did she get started?
“I’ve always been an extremely competitive person. I have had horses since I was two, and been involved with competing for years. I went to a Blandford kickboxing lesson to try it, and I was hooked. Then I met my partner, who teaches kickboxing with another organisation. I’m a purple belt currently – I haven’t been able to grade up because of Covid, but that’s coming up soon.”

Ruby ‘The Pocket Rocket’ Else-White with her belts and trophies

Ruby Else-White
Fifteen-year-old Ruby Else-White is no stranger to regular BV readers; we’ve been tracking the Stalbridge teenager’s career for the last 18 months. When she was seven, Ruby took part in the village pantomime with her mum. ‘We met another family and I noticed one of them was a boxer. He invited me to go for a lesson, and that was it. I’ve been boxing for eight and a half years now. When the coach (Shaun Weeks of Sturminster Newton Amateur Boxing Club) first saw me box, he told everyone I would be a national champion.’
Ruby – known as the Pocket Rocket – lived up to that claim when she became the national champion and two-time Box Cup winner in 2019. Since then she has gone on to win 12 further championships and has won an impressive 26 out of 31 matches. When she won the Prospect Award in Sweden, it was the first time the award had left the country. Until Ruby got her hands on it, the Swedes had always won – now it’s in Stalbridge.

Kim Robinson – 7th Dan Master – with her examiners Master Sahota (left) and Grand Master Sahota

Kim Robinson
Taekwondo Master Kim Robinson from Blandford is the youngest female 7th Dan Master in the country. ‘There are very few lady masters. I was six when I started – my whole family started young. My older sister was eight (Kim’s sister is Karen Mayne, now a 5th Dan kickboxer and owner of a well-known local kickboxing school). Dad worked with the instructor, and we started off in the 1980s. Once my brothers got to six years old, we were all doing taekwondo.
Kim’s remarkably young for a 7th Dan. It’s rare to get this far for either sex: a black belt must train for two years as a 2nd Dan to achieve their 3rd, then three years to gain a 4th and so on. A 7th Dan is a minimum training time of 31 years if you pass every grading on time.

Are more women involved?
Like most of us, Ruby watched the Lionesses.
‘I was really happy for them. It’s like women’s boxing – we need them getting it out there. I liked that the women won the Euros, when the men were unable to!’
Kate found getting into kickboxing easy. ‘People think it’s a male thing. But there are lots of women doing it. People just don’t realise it. And everyone is so friendly. We’re all one family. Everyone knows each other and it’s a really relaxing sport.’
Kim has noticed an increase in women taking up taekwondo. ‘I teach a lot of kids and have around 200 students, 180 of whom are young kids. Several are there for the discipline you learn with taekwondo, but adults tend to focus more on fitness. Recently we have seen many teen girls, and seven ladies have joined in the last month. I’m not sure – maybe women have been inspired by all the sports?”

Becoming a Champion
All three of these women are breaking down the prevailing misogynistic view of contact sports, driving forward the changes – and bringing success to the Blackmore Vale. When Kate Davey won her British Championship, it was a special moment. ‘I thought I’d be knocked out in 30 seconds. But my coach said: “you’re not going to let her do that to you, are you?”. I used the space to stay calm, used everything I had been taught and my fitness to win. After lockdown, it was such a reward. All the work I had put in – it was a massive achievement.”
Kim had to travel to Leicester to earn her 7th Dan Master qualification. ‘Over the 30 or so years, I have learned 24 patterns. Of course, you learn the most challenging patterns as a black belt, such as breaking boards or doing a flying sidekick.’
You would think Ruby had time on her side, but she has her eye firmly on the Olympics in 2028. ‘The minimum age for boxing is 19 – in 2028 I’ll be 21. I got through to the first selection and have the second one this weekend. They only take people they think will win gold. First there were nine of us and now we’re down to five. Women’s boxing has only been an Olympic sport since 2012. Lots of people had to fight to get the International Olympic Committee to take the sport seriously.’
Ruby’s mum Heidi added: ‘Ruby is so dedicated, and the discipline keeps her focused. She’d rather train than sit on an Xbox!’

The benefit of contact
All three contact sports are excellent at giving you a complete workout. Fitness adviser and BV columnist Mel Mitchell says: ‘Contact sports are a great way of releasing stress and building endurance, strength and co-ordination. And let’s not forget the social side, which is always great from a mental health perspective.”

Fancy trying something new?

If you have read this and are inspired to give a new sport a try, all three women have advice.
Kim runs KR Martial Arts, and has classes across Dorset, including at Blandford Forum, Sturminster Newton and Wimborne. She offers free taster sessions (be warned, you could get hooked!)
Ruby would be very happy to see more females at the boxing classes in Sturminster Newton, as she’s the only one at the moment!
Finally, Kate and her partner run kickboxing training in Blandford Forum and also offer a free taster session.

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