Pocket Rocket Ruby – European champion!

Date:

In September Dorset teen Ruby White travelled to Italy to compete in the EUBC Junior Boxing Championships – and won gold. Laura Hitchcock reports

Ruby White, the 15 year old from Dorset, is the newly-crowned European Champion
All images © Courtenay Hitchcock

Ruby White, the 15 year-old Stalbridge teenager who stands just five-foot-tall, travelled as part of the England squad to Italy in September for a week-long knockout tournament, and had four bouts in her Under 48kgs category.
‘I think people underestimate me, because of my size. They don’t notice my power and my strength,’ she says.
She won two of the bouts by stoppage; the quarter and semi-finals were won on points. ‘I knew the semi would be the hardest opponent. I wasn’t worried about beating her, but I knew she was the biggest challenge – she was strong, a good boxer. The others were … easier?’
Ruby may have felt the semi was a tougher bout, but England Boxing’s Matt Halfpenny reported on the final: ‘Ruby arguably produced her best performance of the championships in the final with an outstanding showing against Azerbaijan’s Narmin Alizada. The Sturminster Newton club boxer was quick out of the blocks, forcing two standing eight counts in the first round and a further count in the second before the ref stopped the contest to give the Three Lions their first gold.’
BV readers may well remember Ruby, who was spotted as a seven year-old by her coach Shaun Weeks at his Sturminster Newton boxing gym. When she was 12 she participated in the biggest female amateur championship in Europe, and won the ‘Best Prospect’ award (The BV, May 21).
Later last year she was selected at the England Boxing National Schools Championships as ‘Female Boxer of the Tournament’ – from all classes – by the England Talent coaches (The BV, Oct 21), and invited to join the GB Pathways squad.

Champion Ruby White with Hugo at home in Stalbridge

Corruption in the sport
Ruby’s dream since she first picked up a pair of boxing gloves was to win Gold at the Olympics in 2028. But amateur boxing has recently suffered a major blow with the announcement the sport will not be included in the programme for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
A 2021 independent investigation into the 2016 tournament in Rio de Janiero confirmed more than ten suspicious matches were likely corrupted as part of a “bout manipulation” scheme in place at the event. The report details how “compliant and complicit” referees and judges, acting under a “culture of fear, intimidation and obedience” created by the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA), corrupted the boxing tournament.
An Olympic medal is the most coveted prize for any amateur boxer and has been the starting point for many of the big names in the professional ranks. Now a number of Olympic boxing teams – including Team GB – have taken to social media to start a campaign to ensure boxing is included in the programme for the 2028 games.
‘I always dreamed of being in the Olympics,’ says Ruby ‘I was so upset when I heard. My dream is maybe gone. Now the aim is that when I age into the Youth category I can go to World Championships. Hopefully I’ll still be in the England squad when I go into Seniors in 2026, and I can then box in the Commonwealth Games. With no Olympics, if I can get a Commonwealth title, or win a World title, then that still gets me off to a good start when I turn professional. I don’t want to go pro too early, you really need to win something big to start your career.
‘But I have a feeling that boxing may be brought back – the 2028 Olympics are in Los Angeles, and boxing is massive in America. Imagine having the Olympics in a country where it is one of the biggest national sports and not actually having any boxing in it?’

Ruby with the celebratory poster which hangs in her gym

Teen spirit
How does life as a normal teenager fit around such a dedication to her sport?
‘When I’m in training camps, like the eight weeks I did in Sheffield every weekend in the lead up to the European Championships, I can’t do anything else.’ Ruby said ‘But when I’m not at camp, I work Saturdays and Sundays, and I cover odd shifts during the week too. And of course I get to see my mates. I’m going out tonight! I’m in Year 11, it’s the year we all go to parties!
‘But yes – if I have a bout coming up obviously I’m sensible.
‘My friends are so proud of me, so supportive. They all watch my bouts, and I never get any stick from anyone at school.’
Ruby acknowledges the impact on her family, and on Shaun, too:
‘It’s not just the time taken up in driving me around. The finance side is tough. I don’t have a sponsor. We’ve set up a GoFundMe page, which I’m really grateful to people for donating through, it really helps. But when I have to travel to Sheffield for the GB training camps it’s £180 each trip just for the fuel. If it’s just a one-day training session there’s no accommodation provided, and it’s a five hour journey each way. And then obviously there’s travelling for bouts etc. We have to find that, plus any equipment I need. I do worry about it.’

Ruby in the Sturminster Newton gym with her title belts and golden gloves

A new future
With the massive rise in awareness around women’s sport in 2022, does Ruby think the women’s football team has helped the women’s boxing audience?
‘Yes. Definitely. The England team has such a big support system. They’re all over every social media. And I loved that meme this summer:
“Men: Football’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home…
“Women, 60 years later: … For goodness’ sake, I’ll get it myself.”
‘I loved that! But the knock-on effect is that women’s sport is finally becoming mainstream. It’s not just football, it’s rugby, cricket … and in boxing. Sky Sports’ main Saturday Night Fight in October was an all-women show for the first time. And the O2 was packed! That just wouldn’t have happened even a few years ago.’
Coach Shaun agrees ‘Without a doubt Ruby’s prospects are very different from those she would have had even five or six years ago at the same stage.’
So what’s next?
‘I have a bout in November against a boxer from Switzerland. Then on the first weekend in December I’m in another international tournament, the England Boxing Women’s Winter Box Cup in Manchester.’

Ruby hopes the Olympic committee will reverse its decision to remove boxing from the 2028 Games.

If you feel you can help with sponsorship of Ruby or SturminsterABC let us know and we’ll put you in touch.

Ruby’s titles:
2 x MTK Lonsdale Box Cup
National Cadet Champion
Bristol Box Cup Champion
Riviera Box Cup Champion
3 x MTK Lonsdale Box Cup Champion
3 x Western Counties Junior Champion
3 x National Junior Champion
2 x Golden Girls (Sweden) Box Cup Champion
GB Three Nations Junior Champion
European Junior Champion

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

More like this
Related

The rise of artisan Sundays

Jules Bradburn’s market empire expands to Dorchester – the...

Great Pottery Throw Down star at the new Dorset Spring Show!

The special guest at the inaugural Dorset Spring Show...

Small hands making a big impact

Bingo halls to community calls – Shaftesbury’s Rotakids, a...

FOLDE. Officially the Best Indie Bookshop in the South West

From neighbours to award-winning booksellers, FOLDE’s founders transform their...