Estelle the actuary squares up to Ann (who's somebody in TV)

Click to follow
The Independent Online

By day, Estelle Ford is an actuarial assistant with Canada Life, working at the life insurance company's headquarters in Potter's Bar. By night, she becomes Estelle "Model T" Ford, boxer.

By day, Estelle Ford is an actuarial assistant with Canada Life, working at the life insurance company's headquarters in Potter's Bar. By night, she becomes Estelle "Model T" Ford, boxer.

This week, the 25-year-old will make history when she fights Ann "Sweet P" Parisio, in the first-ever women's "white-collar" boxing bout to be staged in Britain.

White-collar boxing - in which lawyers, accountants and other professionals wind down by whaling the tar out of each other - is a growing phenomenon in this country and, until now, has been an all-male domain.

"If men can do it, why can't women?" asked Ms Ford, who has been training four times a week for the bout but who hopes to qualify as an actuary in five years' time. "Besides, anything men can do women can do better, and on the night we're going to show up the men."

The white-collar workers who take part in this sport are trained by professional and amateur boxers. They glove up and do combat for three two-minute rounds and the sport's governing body is The Real Fight Club, whose founder, Alan Lacey, brought white-collar boxing from the United States to the UK two years ago.

Mr Lacey says The Real Fight Club now has more than 1,000 members and of Ms Parisio's and Ms Ford's impending bout he adds: "It is not a gimmick. Both Estelle and Ann are exceptionally fit, motivated and talented natural athletes. They'll be putting the men on the undercard to shame."

The fight will takes place at the Grange City Hotel in London on Thursday in an event sponsored by, among others, Goldman Sachs and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. Money raised will go to charity.

Ms Parisio, 38, is a freelance television documentary maker who is training at the Lennox Lewis Centre in Clapton, east London. She shares Ms Ford's egalitarian enthusiasm for boxing, saying: "If men are sanctioned to do it, why shouldn't women?"

Not everyone is as keen on white-collar boxing as Ford and Parisio. Both the British Board of Boxing Control and the Amateur Boxing Association have expressed their objections to The Real Fight Club, claiming that its matches are an "unregulated" form of combat, an accident waiting to happen that would tarnish a sport whose abolition is called for often enough as it is.

But Mr Lacey insists white-collar boxing is safe. His fighters wear headgear, fight in large 16oz gloves and are assessed before each fight, at which a doctor and paramedics are ringside.

For all the doubters, Ms Parisio insists that there is a "controlled beauty and power" in boxing, and says it has changed her view of herself as a woman. "All women suffer a pressure to be thin and conform to the fashion industry's view of beauty. It's rubbish, but it still gets to you. Through boxing I can get away from all that - it's as if you can say 'who cares?'"

Both combatants have trained hard for their contest, in which they will go hell for leather to batter each other into submission. If no quarter will be given on the night, the women are at least agreed on one thing. They do not want the card girls, the glamour girls who climb into the ring between rounds. They want card men.

"Why not?" asks Ms Ford, while her opponent adds, "I want card men."

Whatever the outcome, Estelle Ford will find things at Canada Life mighty dull come Friday morning.

* The event is being held to raise money for the Daisy Fund, which aims to pay for the hospital treatment of Daisy Lloyd, a four year-old who was born with a rare form of cancer of the eye. See www.thedaisyfund.org

>

Comments